It seems like everybody around me has been in a bit of a February funk – irritable, frustrated, glum and prone towards negative spin. The winter, with its seemingly perpetual rain and persistent gray skies has overstayed its welcome. Winter break is a distant memory and summer still feels like the beginning of a Kickstarter campaign – all promise and no substance. And for those of us in education, the anticipation of the upcoming testing season is starting to frazzle the nerves and interrupt the sleep.
I see the foul mood spread, as contagious as the step throat that has also been making the rounds. People snap to judgements and snap at each other. Internal narratives veer into the dramatic and disastrous.
In life. In schools. And in marriages.
Marriages are not immune to periods of funk. Times when a bad mood is shared and amplified. A few days or weeks when everything seems to fray the nerves. Or fail to excite. When the marriage is down in the dumps.
Funks are inevitable but they are not impenetrable.
With the proper care and attention, there are ways to reduce and shorten the misery of a marital funk.
Recognize it For What it Is
A funk is like fog. When you’re in it, it’s all you see. And it’s easy to assume that it extends forever. But it doesn’t. It’s here now, not forever.
Get Some Rest
A lack of sleep feeds the funk. When you’re tired, everything is irritating and overwhelming. Ensure that you’re getting sufficient rest before you try anything else.
Bad moods sense a lack of anticipation and quickly move in and take up residence in the excess mental space. So schedule a smile. Shared is best, but solo will also help to lift the fog.
Amp Up the Movement
When your body is sluggish, your brain is sluggish. Walk, run, dance. It doesn’t matter. Just get moving every day for a minimum of 20 minutes.
Check the Diet
It’s easy to try to eat your bad mood away. Yet it rarely works and often backfires. Check your intake of alcohol, sugar and caffeine. Ensure you’re getting enough nutrients and water.
Funks are often associated with a specific environment. So change yours for a few days or even a few hours. A break from your partner can also help provide some needed perspective.
Limit the Spread
If you’re feeling particularly funky, work to release some of the bad mood before you share it with your partner. If your partner is especially foul, work to inoculate yourself through distance or extra self-care.
Revisit the Shared History
Pull up the old pictures together. Take a shared drive through the old neighborhood. Schedule a date at the site of the first shared meal.
Hold Off on the Big Decisions
Don’t let your funk make major decisions for you. It’s notoriously narrow-minded. Table any big decisions until you can see clearly.
Don’t Take it Personally
Bad moods make for bad tempers. Try to not respond defensively or in anger to your partner’s foul mood. And, of course, try not to take yours out on them. Chances are, it’s your doldrums bothering you more than your spouse.
If your funk hijacked your tongue and made it say things you didn’t intend, say you’re sorry. And mean it.
Ride the Funk
When you fight it too hard, it tends to fight back. Try moving with it instead.
The tide always turns. Stay with it.
Note: A funk is not the same as depression. A funk is short-lived and doesn’t impede normal life in a significant way. Depression, on the other hand, is longer lasting and its effects are more serious. If you suspect you are depressed, please seek professional assistance.