I've shared that there's been a bit of a funk visiting my soul and home this September. Well, the funkmaster has decided to stay into October - it knows no bounds of month or year, I suspect. While it is tempting to fade into the wallpaper (of which we have none) and get into a comfort zone of zoning out and giving in to the downward spiral, my heart and head know that it isn't the right path to take. It is difficult to break free, but I've realized that it is a matter of decisiveness. My slightly lazy self is acknowledging that breaking free may take a little concerted effort and while the little voice screams "I don't wanna!" the louder voice screams "I am sick of this - be gone!" So after much praying and pleading, I sat down and thought systematically yesterday about what moments I feel relief from Da Funk. That helped me to come up with a list of things I can actually do to feel tangible results, even if for a short moment. While this is in no way a surefire remedy, I hope my struggles and fight can help someone else find relief if they are in the same funky boat.
1) Pray. Yeah, duh. I know. When I feel the meanies or the mopies coming on, I've decided to get St. Michael and Mary on the scene. Why do all the work myself, y'know?
2) Confession. I need to be sure I am going regularly even if the ol' sinbucket isn't spilling over. Just a little cleanse is good for the soul.
3) Shower. Long, hot shower. Then get dressed. Even if we aren't going out, just getting ready for the day puts me in a more productive spirit. I know, the long, hot shower is a rare commodity with littles. Confession: "long" these days is about 7 minutes...or until I hear screaming.
4) Open some windows. Let in the light, and if the weather and hayfever permits, fresh air. Especially in the winter, it is easy to let the gloom of the day infect your spirit. Let in the light - I hear it shines through the darkness according to some John guy.
5) Go outside. Sometimes, just a breath of that fresh air is enough to recharge and calm. Even if you have just a second between tantrums (or during), step outside and get a whiff. Hopefully you don't have a semi with stinky exhaust driving by at just that moment. If you do, I assure you, it is NOT an omen. Honest.
6) Get moving. Stop laughing - I know I am THE.last.person.on.earth to tell anyone to get moving, what with my couch cushion permanently attached to my rear end. Seriously, get moving. Even if it is walking a load of laundry downstairs, or getting into that hopefully fresh air with the kids and taking a short walk, get moving. It sends that adrenaline through your body and if you involve the littles, maybe it will tire them out as well. Win win!
7) Readjust "normal." My normal mantra is to pick one thing to accomplish when I'm feeling overwhelmed. When the funk hits, I realized that my "one thing" is usually ten things combined into one. Clean one room - well, there are a lot of elements to that, and Funky Chicken doesn't want to play. Simplify that one thing into one concrete task that results in something you can tangibly see. Feeling accomplished is a big part of getting motivated. For instance, I spent an hour cleaning and organizing the kids' toy bin the other day. Fail. That sucker lasted all of a couple hours. The next day, I cleaned the windows and front door and dusted. Much better. Though that didn't last all that long either, I could see the actual results for a little while.
8) Triage you to-do list. Put all the essential tasks at the top and the non-essential at the bottom. Don't worry about the non-essential no matter how much you want to - just don't do it. It will not matter that a little dust piles up or the windows have smudges, but be careful not to run out of underwear. Focus on clean and not tidy. Tidy don't last in this house long enough to make it worth a funky while. Which brings me to...
9) Triage your laundry. Have one basket that is for the essential items. Underwear, socks, onesies, a few outfits for everyone for the week. Don't try to get the whole wardrobe into the rotation when you've got a funky guest. The funkmaster has a great way of making that mountain of laundry look impossible enough to give up on entirely.
10) Find yourself a comfort treat. This doesn't have to be food. It really shouldn't be food, but I'm not there yet. Give yourself permission to pamper yourself a little bit. Do your nails. Watch your favorite flick. Eat some chocolate. Drink a little wine (a little I said). Eat kale chips if that brings you a little happy dance inside. Now is the time.
11) Let go of shame and name that Funk. I'm still vetting possibilities that won't offend anyone. It is important to name it what it is, though, so we can bring it into the open. Let those close to you know - your husband, older children, parents, close friends...maybe not the lady in the grocery aisle unless she is really getting on your last nerve. Funk only festers in the darkness. We have to bring it out into the light. It's kind of like a vampire - the light makes it start to go up in smoke.
12) Ask for help. Figure out what actually helps you and then ask for it. Know what doesn't help you, and let people know that also. It is the worst when someone earnestly is trying to help, but all it is doing is making you want to unleash a stream of obscenities in their direction. Keep the obscenities to yourself and unleash a little gracious honesty instead. "I know you keep asking me what is wrong because you want to help and I love you for it, but it makes me feel frustrated because I can't answer you and it doesn't help me feel any better. Here's how you can help now instead." Easy peasy lemon squeezy.
13) Call in reinforcements. Have a friend that can come hang out with your littles for a bit or take over a household task so you can get some time to yourself? PUT THEM ON SPEED DIAL.
14) Track your triggers so you can get to know them by name. I've noticed this time around that the funk comes in waves, not so consistently. Hormones, sleep deprivation, other stressors often trigger it. Know what your triggers are so you can try to minimize them to the best of your ability.
15) Sleep when they sleep. I know, after a certain age, that isn't really what you are supposed to do. When Frank the Funk comes to visit (do you think Frank is too close to Francis? Francis isn't my funk...) If lack of sleep is an issue, though, ain't no shame in taking a quick catnap in the afternoon if your kids are still home and napping...or if they aren't home at all. If that makes you feel too guilty, do one little task and then take a quick catnap. I'm not talking hours, just 15-20 minutes for a quick recharge.
16) Create a reset button. Do you have a favorite prayer? Scripture verse? Quote? Memorize it, keep it visible, and repeat it ad nauseum when you feel a bad funk rising. Poor Mary hears from me A LOT. Sometimes it turns into "Hail Mary, HELP ME NOW!" but I think she feels me.
17) Find what gives you life and carve out time to do it. Perhaps that is why you call in reinforcements. Do you enjoy painting? Writing? Cooking? baking? building? gardening? running or dancing? Do it. Find someone who will help you find time to do it. Living out of our charisms brings us life - if you don't know what that is for you (or what a charism is), check out the work of the Catherine of Siena Institute. Quickly, a charism is a supernatural gift, different from a natural talent. It is of the Holy Spirit and works through a person to reveal something of God for the good of the people of God. You are a people of God - working in your charism helps you find life just as much as it will help someone else recognize the hand of God. My charisms are creative - it is only natural that creating something is what then brings me a little peace and joy. Find yours and go for it.
18) Plan for a funk. That's right, unexpected guests can send us into a frenzy. No different for the funkmeister. Plan on a visit so when funkalicious comes knocking you have a course of action. Keep spare menu plans in the house that are easy enough for anyone to cook up. Keep a few dinners frozen for emergencies. Have ready to eat meals and snacks on hand. Have a fun activity bag ready to go for the kids that can help them entertain themselves. Have an emergency stack of onesies and unmentionables in case even the triaged laundry doesn't quite get done. Have a secret stash of that comfort treat. Keep those good friends and sitters on speed dial and happy.
Here is hoping this houseguest leaves soon! I'll even put "pack Frank the Funk's suitcase" on my essential to-do list if it moves things along. Happy October one and all!