How to Get Out of That Funk

Recently, I was preparing to deliver a speech and found myself in a funk. I was experiencing an unusual amount of distraction and self-doubt. Fortunately, I had about four hours before I was to go on stage. So, I decided to call my wife, Gail.

Young Woman Running at the Beach - Photo courtesy of ©, Image #14052355

Photo courtesy of ©

She instantly knew I wasn’t in a good place. (This is one of the many benefits of long-term marriage. My wife can read me like a book.) After listening to me whine for a few minutes she said, “Okay, I want you to hang up and go for a run. Call me when you are done.”

I was tempted to blow her off, but I knew in my heart that she was right. I needed a big shift in my emotional state. It wasn’t going to just happen. I needed to do something.

When I called her an hour later, everything had changed. My emotional state had shifted—dramatically. I was focused, alert, and upbeat. I had a can-do attitude.

This was a good reminder of something we had learned years ago from Tony Robbins:

Emotion is created by motion.

If you want to change your emotional state, often all that is necessary is for you to change your physiology. I have experienced this first-hand again and again.

Don’t believe me? Try this:

  • Slouch in your chair
  • Round your shoulders
  • Take shallow breaths
  • Close your eyes
  • Frown and then sigh

If you are like me, almost immediately you will start feeling down—maybe even a little discouraged. As it turns out, discouragement and sadness have specific physical manifestations.

But so does joy and confidence.

This is why you can look at someone and say, “You look like you are having a difficult day.” Or conversely, “Wow. You look like you are on top of the world!”

Over the years, I have learned (and Gail periodically reminds me) that I can change my emotional state for the better by focusing on my physiology rather than my emotions. So can you. Try these five steps:

  1. Put on some upbeat music. This can dramatically alter your mood, because of the memories you associate with certain tunes. Gail recently created a playlist of Music for an Outstanding Day, which I borrowed. It is awesome!
  2. Stand up and stretch. Try to reach the ceiling. Get on your tippy-toes. If you are brave—and no one else is around—jump up and down for 60 seconds. Shake it out. Rotate your neck. Look up.
  3. Take several deep breaths. Oxygenating the blood makes you more alert and awake. Close your eyes and concentrate on breathing. Draw the air deep into your diaphragm (or gut). This is a great way to forget about what has you down or afraid.
  4. Get your body in motion. The more vigorous you can move the better. Go for a run, a bicycle ride, or simply a walk—preferably outdoors. This stimulates your blood flow and gets oxygen to to your whole body. If you do it long enough, your brain will release endorphins that elevate your mood.
  5. Focus on the positive. “As a man thinketh in his heart, so is he“ (Proverbs 23:7). Think strong, positive thoughts. Affirm what you know to be true. Give thanks for what you have rather than what you don’t have. Shift your internal narration to what you get to do rather than what you have to do.

I am now going through this process a couple of times a day, usually first thing in the morning, then again after lunch. It has given me the energy and emotional boost I need to be productive and stay productive.

Question: What relationship have you observed between your physiology and your emotional state? You can leave a comment by clicking here.
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  • Quotes

    Great post, and very helpful! Thanks for sharing those insights!

  • Anonymous

    This is great – Thank you for sharing! I completely agree with you in that staying in a logical state of mind over emotional will keep you moving forward, I even wrote a book about it! The 5 steps you’ve provided to escape the emotion are useful tools!

    Gail KasperMotivational Speaker and Author, Unstoppable: 6 Easy Steps To Achieve Your Goals

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  • Deb Preachuk

    Great post!  I’ve shared and linked it into one I wrote.  Thanks for the inspiration and honestly sharing your experience.  It changes lives! 

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  • Jen McDonough “The Iron Jen”

    Excellent advice Michael! I can so tell when my “emotional tank” is running low – I get cranky, negative, and whiny.  It usually happens when I have been laser focused on a particular area for too long and have avoided putting things such as exercise and touching base with the positive influences aside for an extended period of time. Short bursts of this is fine to get things done, but NOT over the long run. By running my emotional tank on low, I find it usually takes me more to “refill my tank” then just keeping it filled. 
    LOVE how you broke this down!
    Live Beyond Awesome.
    Twitter: @TheIronJen:disqus 

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  • Carter Little

    Thank you ^.^ the last few days i’ve been in a serious funk, I read this and I’m going to try some of the things on here. Nonetheless I really appreciate this website. Thanks ^.^

  • mcnairwilson

    No.1 for me is to completely BREAK MY ROUTINE (at the moment). Along w/ all the good suggestions above: Change location (even in my house or a cafe): MOVE to different room at home, or (in cafe) new chair, different table. Next, if I am working on my Mac: Save, Sleep, close Mac. Open sketchbook and write longhand or sketch-doodle-design-work on same project, but VISUALLY. Open one of 2 books (always with me) that I am currently reading. Next, refresh or change my drink. (I always have several favorite hot teas, juices on hand. EVERY STEP is about waking my system. AND (as suggested above) get some favorite music on.

  • Pam Taylor, The MomCourager

    :-( Playlist is not available this evening. Great post, Michael. I love how practical you are!

  • Jonathan Burston

    Great advice. We all go through moments of ‘funk’ from time to time. Having experienced the ‘funk’ very recently and that ‘funk-time’ running for longer than usual, it’s made me think about how I can flip it quicker. 1 and 5 are part of my usual routine for the ‘funk’, but will also try the others.

  • Erik Bloomfeldt

    Spectacular! Just tried it and went from lethargic to energized.
    Thanks Michael

  • Kathy Barkley

    I have also found that if you are unable to participate in a physical activity at the time,

    that biofeedback is an excellent practice and works just as well!

  • missyLovage

    Thanks! I’ve been having a rotten go of things. I completed a morning jog a few days past and ended feeling fabulous! Thank you for the reminder that I was on the right track.