As I write this I’m on a bus back from Edinburgh to Glasgow. A trip I wanted to take to see a few things I missed on my first visit and to finally meet another study abroad friend I had been talking to online for a couple months. I also thought going to Edinburgh would be a nice little day trip to get me out of my usual surroundings. Lately, Glasgow has been really burning me out.
And turns out I needed this trip more than I thought.
You see, yesterday morning when I was all ready to go, bag packed and about to walk out the door, I literally almost started crying. I didn’t want to go. I got scared. Of what? I’m not sure. I’ve been to Edinburgh before for two days completely alone before with no issues. I should have been excited to go back to the city!! Especially since I had found some nice vegan cafes and knew all the cherry blossoms were in full bloom all around the city and castle.
But instead there I was standing in my flat’s doorway, about to cry, trying to get myself to not just go lay in bed all day. I even tried to compromise with myself. “Just go to a cafe here and work Caitlyn. Go back to that vegan coffee shop on the West end.” And while I really wanted to listen to this voice, I just kept repeating, “If I don’t get on that bus I’ll regret it.” So I walked the five minutes to the bus station and got on that bus.
The hour bus ride there I was going back and forth between silently cursing myself for going and praising myself for doing something my mind was screaming at me not to do. But as soon as I stepped off that bus and went to my first destination, the Scottish Portrait Gallery, I immediately felt better. No more regrets, no more sad feelings, no more weird funk. I felt reenergized and ready to allow myself to enjoy life again.
I had been in a weird funk since Wednesday, so I was glad to be back as myself. The exact same kind of funk I was in for almost two months when I first came abroad. I felt depressed, lonely, my social anxiety was awful and caused panic attacks if I had to even think about leaving my room. But because I’ve dealt with this weird funks my whole life actually (just never to the extreme I have experienced here) I’ve picked up on quite a few things that help me survive and not want to give up completely.
Appreciate other people’s art
Over the past few years, I’ve slowly discovered my love for art. I always loved reading, but it wasn’t until I got to college that I also discovered my love of drawing, painting, and photography. Then after going to a hundred million museums here in Europe, I realized I have a thing for just looking at other people’s art, not just creating it.
Sometimes I get in a weird funk because I feel like I’m not creating enough, or the right things. And that has definitely played a part recently. I’ve taken so many photos since being abroad, and editing them has just become this huge chore I never want to do. So when I went to Edinburgh this week, I purposefully left my DSLR at home and just went out to enjoy everything through my eyes, and not a lens.
There’s also just something about seeing other people’s art that is so inspiring. Like they probably didn’t think they could finish it, or that it was perfect, yet here you are admiring it for all it’s worth and more.
The one art form I try to avoid when I’m depressed is music. I’ve found that listening to music while I’m sad only ever makes me even sadder. I’m either listening to sad music that just complements my depression or I try to listen to happy music, but that just further depresses me since I’m not as happy as the person in the song.
Sometimes my funk is because I feel like I’m forcing myself to look too cool on the ‘gram or feel pressured to be this perfectly poised girl in all the Pinterest quotes I read. So I unplug from the interwebs and focus my attention elsewhere.
I’ll read a book, watch Netflix, draw, go for a walk, stroll down the aisles in Target – anything that doesn’t have to do with me having a social presence online or seeing other people’s social presence.
Another reason I get in funks is that I’ve been cooped up inside all day long. Maybe it’s because I’ve been working, or maybe it’s because it’s too cold, or maybe it’s because I’ve been too depressed to leave my room. No matter what the reason I’ve been inside for so long is, actually getting back out into the real world lifts my mood so much. Even if the mere idea of getting up and walking the 100 feet to go outside sounds like running two marathons back to back. Your soul will thank you.
Nature will always have your back. Even if it’s just the little patch of grass outside your apartment complex or the one bench you can sit on between classes that gets sunshine. These little bits and pieces of Mother Earth will nurture your mind in ways you don’t expect. Cherish your time outside!!
Of course, you can also go more intense than that if you have more time or are a big nature lover. Go for a walk on your lunch break, a run after class, a hike on the weekend. Or if it’s summer, just sit out in your backyard and read a good book and tan.
Plus, piggybacking on the first tip I shared, getting back out into nature also shows you the beauty of the Earth. And whoever or whatever created the Earth also created you, so you, my friend, are art and should feel special and loved.
I know that the answer to everything nowadays seems like it’s journaling, but it really does seem to solve a lot of my problems so I’m still adding it to the list.
Not only will actually writing out what you’re dealing with be a catharsis of sorts since you’ll be getting all the negative thoughts out of your head and onto paper or your computer screen, but it’ll also activate your stream of consciousness and maybe help find where your negative feelings are coming from. And knowing what’s causing your funk is the first step to getting out of it and preventing it from happening again.
Don’t eat like shit
This may just be me, but when I eat like shit it makes my depression worse. I think this may have something to do with my past of disordered eating though. However, I have always a strong believer in dark chocolate or a bowl of cereal being a great remedy to a sad time. Everyone’s comfort foods are different though, so find yours and have it at the ready for times of need.
Change your Surroundings
This could be in a big or little way. Could be rearranging your room or it could be adding a new plant to your desk. Could be getting up from your desk and working outside instead. Could be going for a night out in the city or could be taking a day trip to the next city over (like I did) or could even be going to a whole different state or country for the weekend.
This is usually my last resort but it has never failed me once!! I think it’s the most powerful because it reminds us that life goes on no matter where we are so we should get on with our lives as well.
Know it won’t last forever
This has actually become so ingrained in me that when I’m feeling down and a friend asks if I’m okay I’ll usually say, “No. But I will be soon.”
It’s because I’m always repeating that to myself when I feel crappy. And I wish I would have understood it when I was younger, so this is me telling you now: That awful feeling you have right now? It won’t last forever. One day you’ll wake up and feel perfectly normal and fine and like your happy self again. Maybe it’ll be tomorrow morning. Or maybe it’ll be next week. Either way, it’s going to go away. And while yeah, it may come back one late night at 2 am, it’ll disappear again. I promise.
Knowing that the negative emotions you’re feeling aren’t a part of you is important. Feelings are fleeting (if my PMS mood swings have taught me anything) but you aren’t.
All of these activities are things that help me get out of a funk, which means they may not work for you. Maybe you’re the opposite and you need to stay inside and listen to really sad music to feel better about yourself. Nothing wrong with that. Just find what works for you and use it. Until you find what works for you though, feel free to try out the things I suggested.
What do you do when you’re in a funk?