I spent a good portion of this year in a bit of a funk. Several things in my life just weren’t working out like I wanted; I wrote about it here. I kept taking action as best I could to improve my circumstances and slowly they have gotten better. But the funk lingered.
I’m prone to funks. I’ve learned that when they don’t pass on their own I need to do two things:
- Shake up my routines. I’m a bit absent-minded; without set routines I’ll forget to do things like brush my teeth. But when I’m in a funk, the routines feel very stale. Changing some habits around helps everyday things feel fresh.
- Do the opposite of what I want to do. If you’re prone to funks, too, you know how easy it is to let inertia take over. You sleep in later and later. You don’t keep up with the housework and the place starts looking unkept. Stuff like that. As much as I can, I force myself to do something I don’t want to do. The accomplishment is a small victory.
Freshness and victory are the very oxygen my internal fire’s dying embers need.
But how to implement these? I started thinking about what I was enjoying, and I realized that my best pleasure has come from writing in this blog and reading your comments. So, I wondered, how can I do more of that?
I don’t know if you noticed, but a couple months ago I quietly shifted Down the Road from a Monday-Thursday schedule to a Monday-Wednesday-Friday schedule.
It’s because I now get up early every day – 5 a.m. I use the quiet morning time to write.
You’ve got to know how hard it is to get up earlier. But it accomplished both goals. I had been sleeping in as long as I dared; I had been going to work later and later. Getting up earlier was the opposite of what I wanted to do, and doing it upended many of my routines.
It also had an wonderful and unintended side effect: it eased my insomnia. I’ve always been a bit of an insomniac but it’s been particularly bad for the last few years. But getting up an hour earlier led predictably to a couple rough weeks because I was never sleeping enough. And then one day I found myself nodding off at 9 p.m. And it happened again a couple nights later, and then it became pretty routine. I have trouble sleeping only one or two nights a week now (this is a big improvement!), but even then sleep does come. Sleeping better has helped me feel more human every day, which has also helped lift this funk!
I learned several years ago that my feelings are like the dashboard in my car. They tell me things about how my internal processes are doing. And for me, a funk is like the oil light on my car’s dashboard – when it lights, pull over immediately, because continuing could seize up the engine. Funks can turn into major depressions. I’ve had a few of those in my lifetime and I’ve usually needed external intervention to recover. So it’s very important to nip funks in the bud.
Mission accomplished this time, and it’s all because I made myself get up earlier so you’d have more Down the Road to read.
It’s hard to be depressed when life has joy. Read about my first hard lesson in this truth.