Photo credit Alice Achterhof – Unsplash

What do you do when faced with a life-altering funk? The kind of funk that slams you to the pavement like a sumo wrestler and tosses you by an ankle into quick sand?

Depending on the type of funk you face, personal or professional, you might wallow for a long time and fall deeper into despair or that tub of Ben & Jerrys. But that’s a path to no where. Funks can suck the life out of you, which is why you need to know what to do when faced with another one of life’s sucker punches.

Are you artistic? Adventurous? A creative filmmaker, writer, athlete, chef or musician? Are there things you have always wanted to do, but think you lack talent? The fastest way out of ‘FUNKTOWN’ is to express your feelings through art, creative pursuits, physical activities, and interpersonal relationships. Talking to friends, family and a trusted therapist is a great way to process whatever life throws your way, but having an outlet for expressing your feelings and emotions is essential.

What is your go-to strategy? Sometimes music can give you a mental vacation and another time you might throw yourself into a ceramics masterpiece or laughable epic fail. Find the strategies you can turn to whenever you need to bust out of your funk!

There are so many ways to express yourself creatively and other ways that are not so creative, but cathartic.

I once took all of my old letters from a boyfriend and threw them into a lit hibachi grille. I have never laughed so hard and felt so free! When my roommate came home and asked what I was cooking, I could hardly speak through my laughter, “Love letters! I feel amazing!!” The symbolism of that event was just what my soul needed, and I was ready to move on.

Here are some other ideas to think about that don’t involve hibachis:

Take a class in the evening at your local college/university.

Pursue a degree/certification you always wanted or recently heard about.

Be a detective and see what events are happening in your local area.

Ask friends and colleagues if they know of any great classes. On-line classes are okay, but this does nothing for you socially.

Get out and meet other incredibly uncomfortable and awkward strangers like yourself. Step out of your comfort zone (even if you are kicking and screaming inside!) and in front of new faces. Battle through your introverted routine and venture out there.

If creative endeavors are your thing, do not limit yourself by your critical thoughts of age and skillset. You are never too old to try something new or pick up something you use to love doing.

Take music lessons – music is a great healer (e.g. ukulele, guitar, drums, piano, violin, drums), songwriting, voice, group or individualized instruction. Look on YouTube for a gazillion free lessons.

Write a song; it doesn’t have to be an award winner – just so cathartic!

Write a play, screenplay TV pilot (or take a class in how to do these things).

Produce a short film, feature, webisode or pilot.

Create a vision board.

Keep a gratitude journal.

Enroll in an art class – ceramics, drawing, painting, glass blowing, jewelry making etc.

Take a Photography class – learn new techniques in digital photography from proper shooting and lighting to digital effects and editing.

Learn to write (e.g. screenwriting, creative, non-fiction, fiction, memoir, sketch, TV, etc.).

Take classes – improvisation, commercial acting, voice acting, dance, theater, etc.

Attend a TED talk, lecture, inspirational workshop, etc.

Exercise and try a Yoga, Zumba, Pilates, Tai Chi, Jiu Jitsu, Meditation or Mindfulness class.

Learn creative and healthy cooking techniques.

Feel empowered with self-defense skills – nothing says confidence like kicking the s*it out of your funks.

Learn a new language – for work or for fun. Learning a new language is a confidence booster and an excuse to try it out in new settings, locally and internationally.

Become computer savvy and learn about social media, app design and more.

Volunteer at a local food bank or animal shelter.

Take a business class to learn how to start a new venture, delve into marketing and branding.

Enroll in Public speaking classes.

Join a club (e.g. biking, hiking, “my life is sh*tty club,” etc.).

What you can achieve is only limited by your imagination.

The bottom line is, whatever your interests are, pursue them. Have a life outside of work and find something that brings added joy to your hamster-wheel life and boosts your creative imagination. Consider any activity that feeds your mind, body and soul. Take time to breath and connect with yourself and others. Just take that first step, mix it with lots of motivation, positive self-talk, and watch that life-changing momentum take over.

Adapted from Janeane’s forthcoming book, Get the Funk Out! %^&$ Happens, What to Do Next! © 2019 by Janeane Bernstein. Published by Post Hill Press


  • Janeane Bernstein, EdD

    Journalist | Mental Health Advocate | Author


    Janeane Bernstein, Ed.D. is a journalist, mental health advocate, and radio host with KUCI 88.9fm.  She was a 2021 Age Boom Academy Fellow with the Robert N. Butler Columbia Aging Center & Columbia Journalism. Her first book, GET THE FUNK OUT, %^&* HappensWhat to Do Next!  offers strategies and life lessons on ways to nurture self-care and resilience through life’s curveballs. Janeane speaks to students and adults about self-care, mental health, resilience, the CARE Initiative, and more. Her latest podcast & event series, OUTSIDE THE BOX, focuses on mental health and wellness for all ages. Her next book, BETTER HUMANS - What the Mental Health Pandemic Teaches Us About Humanity will be published by Post Hill Press & Simon & Schuster. | |