Across the table sits two beautiful ladies, I just downed the best steak of my life, a ribeye from a quaint little restaurant in San Carlos de Bariloche, and all of a sudden I feel queazy. The night before I’d drank my fill of whiskey shots and old fashioned’s and slid 100 Argentinian pesos (not a whole lot) to the bartender to play Johnny Cash for the entire night and nothing but Johnny Cash. I danced to my heart’s content, swirling and swinging the ladies who joined me for a drink and were brave enough to allow me to take the lead and try my best to impersonate Mr. Patrick Swayze.
That was in El Calafate. Tonight I’m in Bariloche, and the two women across from me have not a hint of the twists and turns of the night before, so when that queazy feeling led me to stand up mid-meal and rush to the bathroom downstairs, they were a bit taken aback. When I told them I’d just release that incredible steak back into the wild (I puked in the toilet downstairs), they had a good laugh at my expense, capping off what was a struggle of a day, one that projectile vomit oddly enough made a bit better, as did their company.
For that entire day I’d been in a funk, unable to bring myself to read a book or write an article or answer an email. Sure, I was a tad hungover and I’d flown on one of those airplane things, so I dismissed it as such, being hungover. This “funk”, however, carried over to the next day, and even the next. My motivation level wasn’t in it’s typical fine form, nor my ability to just do, rather than build up the steam or convince myself to do the work. I was a shell of who I am and couldn’t snap out of it. (Read: A Man’s Guide to Defeating Depression)
I’m sure you’ve been in a funk at some point in your life. I’ve had a few too many to count, they’re a part of life, the ups and downs, ebbs and flows, highs and lows, yada yada yada… But how do we break them? How to we climb our way out of them as soon as humanly possible? Sure, we have control over our thoughts, we can choose to think sad thoughts or we can snap out of them and on to happier ones, but what can wake us the fuck up and back into the world as the conquerors we’re at least trying to be?
A slap in the face? A plunge into cold water? What jolts us back into the reality that we’re awesome, that we have more power than we realize, and that to waste even a second in the haze that is the blues is such an utter waste of whatever talents have been bestowed upon us?
I’ve found a few solutions to funks, action-steps that actually work. A process that you can go through to bring you out of your funk and back into the world as the awesome human this world, and those around you, needs you to be. I avoided this process for a couple days, it’s actually just my morning routine with a few wrinkles, and I suffered as a result.
Next time you’re in a funk, go through this process.
1. The morning primer.
Tony Robbins talks a lot about his “primer” morning routine. It sets him up for the best day possible. It “primes” him for success, for focus, and to be at his best as every day requires him to be, and us to be.
It’s incredibly important, especially when you’re in a funk, to have a routine that you follow as habit, without thought. Something you automatically wake up and go through. Here are a few things to add to your routine, things you should do everyday, but that become all the more important when you’re in a funk.
a. Get up as soon as you wake up. Don’t let this process linger. Force yourself to stand as soon as your eyes open. Commit to this the night before. (read: 10 Tips to Take Back Your Morning)
b. Walk directly to the shower, get in, and turn it on cold, and yes in that order. Stay in that freezing, nut-shrinking water for at least 5 minutes. The cold shower will not only ignite your nervous system, but it will give you a boost of testosterone, and testosterone has been shown to decrease depression in men. It’ll also wake you as fast as humanly possible.
c. Next, grab a notebook, possibly an awesome book you’re reading, and get outside. Get the fresh air in your lungs and the wind on your face (obviously, get dressed before you go outside, forgot to mention that). With this notebook in hand, write down 3 things you’re thankful for. Then get in those things. It sounds goofy but don’t just write them down, close your eyes, do whatever you have to do to be in those things you’re grateful for.
Next, write down 3 things you want to make happen today. Make these things actionable, as in you’re going to do them as soon as you start your day, which will soon happen. I also pray. If you’re not a praying fella, talk to yourself in silence. Get your words out there and into the world. Work through, in part what the heck’s brought you into this funk and say what you’re thankful for and what you’re going to make happen.
Then, if you have a good book, spend 20-30 minutes reading it. I have a few books that I go to if things just aren’t going as I’d like them to. Possible go to books to have at your disposal for such times:
- The Greatest Salesman in the World
- Think and Grow Rich
- Man’s Search for Meaning
- How to Stop Worrying and Start Living
- Unbroken by Laura Hillenbrand
note: you can buy all of them from Amazon in the links above.
I’ve also found music helps. Not of the singing variety, but instrumental music, specifically from movies that I love. Lone Survivor has a great soundtrack, and it’s tough to beat Braveheart, Gladiator, and the Last of the Mohicans. Turn that on right when you get up. Have it blasting so you can hear it in the shower. Let it feed the warrior within you.
2. Make your bed.
You could do this first, actually I highly recommend that this be the first thing you do. It’s the simple act of accomplishing a task, doing something, that gets us in the process of doing other things. When you’re doing things you forget about your funk. I’ve begun to do this daily and it’s not something I ever did, ever. It seems pointless because you’re just going to mess it up once again, but this simple act can be transformative as it starts a domino effect that ends with you simply finishing more tasks and being more productive and ignorant as to the reasons for your funk.
3. Create energy.
Energy plays a huge role in our mood. It’s tough to be in a bad mood if we’re full of energy, which is largely regulated by our diets, rest, and physical condition.
This starts, obviously, the night before. Whatever you’re doing, staying up late watching movies, no matter how funny, won’t turn things around, sleep will. Get a good sleep. Routine plays a large, very large, role in sleep. So get on a firm sleep schedule. Your sleep and energy levels have much more to do with your happiness than that party on a friday or saturday night that will be no more than a replica of every other party on every other friday or saturday night party or night out.
Get to sleep early. You’ll thank yourself tomorrow. And stay away from alcohol. Hydration is very important and you don’t want anything that will dehydrate you.
When you wake up, after you go through your routine and make your bed, whenever it’s time to eat, include the following:
a. Meat. It slows the rise of blood sugar, allowing you to experience elevated energy levels throughout the day rather than that late morning or afternoon crash that usually comes with sombre thoughts and relative uselessness.
b. Vegetables. They’re healthy for you. Eat a salad with your bacon or fish in the morning. You’ll feel lighter, cleansed, full of energy.
c. A BIG glass of lemon water. The evidence surrounding the alkalizing effect of lemons and lemon water is shaky, but man, does it wake you up in the morning. You feel better with lemon water in the morning as opposed to the straight up liquid on it’s own.
The other thing this accomplishes is hydration. Being sufficiently hydrated will help you have more energy, be more productive, and give you endurance. Having this first thing in the morning feeds your muscles and your body that have been working all night, using water, without having it replaced. Get a big glass and down it.
d. Fats. This can include your meats or oils on your salad, or it can be those eggs with the yolks that I’m so very fond of. They’re great for you. I eat a ton of them. When you’re in a funk, though, dial it back just a bit, the last thing you want to feel is full as well as lazy or “down”. Fats naturally increase testosterone levels, and although a lot of your testosterone, or lack-thereof, has to do with your body fat levels, fats are very important.
It’s the cholesterol that we get from dietary fats of the saturated, monounsaturated, and polyunsaturated variety, that allows us to produce this wonderful hormone, a hormone that combats feelings of depression in men.
So, if you want to get out of your funk, boost your T levels and increase your energy levels.
e. Vitamin D. This is the most important nutrient when you’re in a funk. First, it “free’s” up your testosterone levels, and most scientific minds see “free T” – testosterone that isn’t bound to a protein, thus free to move about the body and do what it’s made to do – as the only form of testosterone that really matters. The sun is the best source of vitamin D, but we don’t always have access to it. If the sun is out, get out in the sun! Spend an entire day basking in its glory. Regardless, take 4,000 IU of a good form of D3 in the morning, and the same amount after your workout or before bed.
You know the “winter blues” or seasonal depression? They’re largely attributed to a lack of D3. It’s an incredibly important nutrient, and one that we’re just discovering, really, how vital it is to our mental stability and our overall happiness. Not only that, we’re learning just how much D3 we need and can supplement with, hence the 8k IU’s in a single day. I stretch that to 10k in the winter. So take your D3.
Here’s the source of D that I use: Athletic Greens liquid (important) Vitamin D3
4. Release some endorphins.
There is power in movement. By moving and exercising you release powerful endorphins that can bring you out of even the greatest funk. They really do act like a drug. The runner’s high is a real thing. That feeling of being on top of the world when your muscle feels like it’s about to burst during a pump needs to be recreated when you’re feeling down, singing the blues, in a funk.
Go to the gym. Get active. Go play some kind of sport. Ideally get outside and go play some kind of sport. Just get moving. Movement is the kicker. It’s what will bring you back into the world as the awesome fella you are, and that the world needs you to be. So force yourself to move and get active. The funk is incredibly difficult to remain in after a great workout.
Looking for an awesome, brief workout? Check this out: Free Workout to Burn Fat and Build Muscle.
5. Get to work.
In your actionable list that you created early on in the day, if you’re honestly feeling like crap or simply down in the dumps, write things that you’ll be able to accomplish. Don’t be too audacious, just tackle things that will bring you closer to your goal but things you can actually finish. Don’t go to easy on yourself, but don’t aim to conquer the world all at once.
Take baby steps. Accomplishment will bring you back. In the end it’s all on you to get out of this funk. There are things you can do that will help, but you have to do them.
Some will look at this as unfair and in doing so will remain in the funk forever or, by chance, get out of it. Others, the winners, see this as empowering, this ability to bring yourself out of despair. That fact that “it’s all on you” is liberating, empowering, it brings control over your life to the man living it. (Read: The Truth About Happiness and Who Controls Your Fate)
You’ll notice that this routine is all about doing. When you’re doing and too busy to feel down, you don’t. The cure for the blues is to get busy and get busy early. When you’re busy you feel important. Guess what, you are important. And whatever mission you’re on, getting shit done is a necessity to seeing it to fruition. That’s where this step becomes important; you need to get something, anything done, if you want to bring yourself out of this funk.
6. Write down your dream.
I’m a dreamer. I’m not a dreamer in the sense that I think my dreams should stay in the world of Peter Pan and Captain Hook. I dream because I like having a clear vision of where I’m going. Dreaming, to me, is very important. It’s visualizing where I’m going to be.
The final step of this “get out of the funk” process, is to write down your dream. Take a 30-minute break from work, pull out a pen and a pad and get specific. Write what your life will ideally look like in 10 years. Ideally. No limitations. This is yours. You don’t have to share it with anyone, so be as audacious as you want, but be real. Make this what you really want. I really want a house that I build, with a couple dogs, a nice truck in the driveway, on a dozen acres of land with a horse in the stable. That’s what I really want. The details within this stuff makes it real, alive.
Write down your dream. How you wake up. Who you work with. What you do for work, because work’s important. This is 70% of your time, you should do something that you either love or enables you to live whatever life you want.
Dream. Dare mightily. The dream aspect to this list is the fun part. It’s where you get to write down where you will be. When you know where you will be you can start getting there.
When you’re going to a place, there’s no funk. Nothing can bring the man down, and keep him down, who’s going to a place of glory. Movement is a powerful thing. Create that place you’re going to. Bring yourself out of this funk because life shan’t be lived in gloom, but in glory.