As you all know, I’ve been in a little funk. And as you also know, I’m going with it. That’s because I’m pretty sure nothing major is happening in my body (i.e. pregnancy, depression or illness). Even though it’s been a few weeks and I’m still not feeling quite like my normal, energetic, focused and productive self, I’m thinking the funk is just a natural ebb in the ebb and flow of life.
An inconvenient ebb, but an ebb nonetheless.
Sometimes, though, a funk is your body’s indication that something is wrong. And when something is wrong, it’s important to address the issue and make it right. Or, at least take extra-good care of yourself until things return to right on their own.
Here are some questions I ask myself when I’m not feeling normal for a few days or longer. My answers help pinpoint the underlying cause so I can address whatever is necessary. It’s not really scientific or anything. I just run through this mental checklist and tweak whatever needs tweaking:
1. What am I eating? Almost always, when I am fatigued or moody, it’s because I’ve been eating something bad. And almost always that something bad involves refined sugar (baked goods are my kryptonite). I don’t know about you, but refined sugar does a number on my mood and energy levels. But it’s usually about a 24-hour delay, so I don’t always make the connection between sugar and how I feel. Sometimes, all I need to do is adjust my diet a little—cut out all the junk—and I’m back to normal in no time.
2. Am I getting enough sleep? I’m terrible when I’m sleep deprived. TER-RI-BLE. I don’t know how I even survived the infant thing four times—it’s all such a blur. The older I get, the more I need good sleep. And for me, that means going to bed no later than 10 pm and sleeping soundly for at least 7 ½ hours. And naps. I no longer apologize when I need a nap.
3. Am I getting enough exercise? For me, exercise is not some hard-body, vanity thing. It directly and profoundly affects how I feel, physically, mentally and emotionally. I rely on that endorphin release to fuel my mood and energy levels. The longer I wait between workouts, the worse I feel. The irony is that when I feel the least like exercising, it’s usually when I need it the most. This is a tricky one, though, because OVEREXERCISE can make me feel the same way. Crazy.
4. Am I going outside? I don’t like cold weather. So I tend to avoid the outdoors for days-on-end during dreary Kentucky winters. Other than sitting in a carpool line or running errands, I can literally forget to go outside. Vitamin D from natural sunlight is one of the best defenses against depression and fatigue. And since I’ve tested low for Vitamin D, I’ve got to make sure I supplement with D3 year ‘round—especially when the weather is yuck. (Has your doctor ever tested your vitamin D levels? He should!)
5. Am I stressed? Stress is one of the most subtle and underrated causes of illness and fatigue. I’m shocked how much one fight with a kid or my husband can completely deplete my energy and make me forget how to tie my shoes. Times of transition tend to mess with me, too. I try to avoid situations that cause stress. But if I can’t, I must be sure I’m handling stress effectively—not bottling it up or freaking out on everyone. Which I’m prone to do. (I am a joy to live with, as you can see.)
6. Am I isolated? When I start to feel overwhelmed with people, responsibilities, or activity, I need to replenish with quiet and solitude. But, too much quiet and solitude can lead to isolation. And too much isolation puts me in a funk. (If you are an extrovert, you probably tend to over-schedule yourself and need to ask the opposite question, “Do I NEED solitude?”)
7. How are my relationships? Do Jon and I need a date? (Date night makes everything better) Have I talked with another adult female just for fun in the last month? (the cashier at the grocery store doesn’t count) Have I connected with each of my kids? (Reminding them to scoop the kitty litter doesn’t count) Do I have any strained relationships? Strained relationships suck the life out of me. Worse than the occasional disagreement, the prolonged stress of a difficult relationship eventually affects my sleep and my focus. I do my best to avoid life-suckers.
8. Am I sick? Sometimes I catch what my kids bring home from school, but because I take good care of myself, the virus doesn’t hit hard enough to completely debilitate me. So, I can’t always tell if I’m sick-sick, you know what I mean? A few years ago, I contracted an unusual virus called Fifth Disease. It caused me to be achy and fatigued for months! But I didn’t attribute my symptoms to the sickness—I just beat myself up for being lazy. So stupid. (Oh great. Now I’m beating myself up for beating myself up. Also stupid.)
9. Am I PMS-ing? Yes, as a matter of fact, PMS is a verb. And, as a matter of fact, it messes with me every single month. I hate it. The end.
10. Am I dreading something? A task? A conversation? An event? If I put them off for too long, it makes my stomach hurt. It disrupts my sleep. It causes me to be irritable with my kids. Sometimes, simply doing the thing I’m dreading most makes me feel better.
11. Do I need a break or vacation? Yes.
12. Do I need to declutter or simplify something? When my house gets too cluttered or my routine gets too complicated, I can’t function. You might think I’m crazy, but one of the first things I do when I’m crabby is clean my kitchen. About half the time, a cluttered, messy kitchen is the reason I am snapping at everyone.
13. Am I talking to God? Date Night and vacations notwithstanding, the time I spend with God—praying, reading the Bible, laying out my cares and concerns to Him—affects every aspect of my being. When I don’t talk to Jesus, I don’t feel well. True story.
Q4U: Do you recognized what puts you in a funk? Can you add to this list?