12 Easy Ways to Beat the Blues, Banish the Blahs, and Bust a Funk
Do You Have a Case of the Blues?
Do you have a case of the blues, have you come down with the blahs, or are you in the grip of a funk? Are you “down in the dumps” or feeling low? In a nut shell, do you feel sad, unhappy, or maybe even depressed?
Beat the Blues
It happens to all of us. You may feel down because of a specific thing that happened in your life, or maybe it is more of a general malaise. It’s not uncommon for people to have a case of the “winter blahs.” Winter is cold and gray, and sometimes the coldness and grayness seeps into our emotional life.
Here are 12 easy things you can do to chase the blues away and be “in the pink” again. Best of all, all but one are free or very low-cost, and most importantly, fun.
1. Cook Something
The aroma of simmering soup or baking cookies is comforting. As a bonus, you get to have something delicious to eat. If possible, share the food with someone.
You can cook whatever “comfort food” appeals to you or you can cook up something gourmet using a recipe that you clipped from a magazine and never got around to trying. You can also search for recipes online.
Comfort foods are the food of our childhood. For me, bread pudding is the ultimate comfort food. Even if you are snowed in, you probably have all the ingredients on hand. You can find my recipe here: Quick and Easy Bread Pudding
2. Be Grateful
Develop an “attitude of gratitude.” Make a list of all the small things in life that you a grateful for. Thinking about gratitude will up your happiness quotient.
It’s like the old adage, "count your blessings."
3. Get Active
Get your body in motion. Weather permitting, go outdoors. A brisk walk, a bike ride, or a run is always good for lifting the spirits.
If you are stuck inside, put on your favorite up-tempo music and dance. Don’t worry about doing dance steps, just shake your body and move with the music.
Exercise stimulates the body to release endorphins, the “happiness hormone.”
Tune the radio to your favorite station for pop music or if you have some recordings from your favorite artist, play them. You want to choose only happy music. No songs about dying or lost love. Now sing along. Sing very loudly.
Play air guitar, if you like. Or maybe pretend your hair brush is a mic and you are a rock star.
Add in a few dance moves to double the benefit. No one can feel sad while singing and dancing.
Sing to Chase the Blues Away
5. Clean the House
A dirty messy house is depressing. It infects your mood. If you are surrounded by a mess, it makes you feel like your whole life feel like a mess.
Just making your bed in the morning will get you off to a good start. Get a large comforter that will reach almost to the floor. In the morning all you have to do is smooth the sheets and then throw the comforter over the bed. It only takes a minute.
Start in one room. I like to start with the kitchen. I find washing dishes to be very relaxing.
Don’t let the mess overwhelm you. Gather everything that has been left lying around into one pile. Now starting with the top of the pile, begin to put things where they belong. If you have things, you no longer want or need, put them in a box for charity. Throw out things that are broken beyond repair or clothing that is no longer in useful condition.
Sometimes, a lot of mail accumulates. Put it all in a box so you can sort through it later.
Finally sweep or vacuum, and mop the floors.
If you want, listen to up-tempo music and/or sing while you do the cleaning.
All done? Sit down for a minute and take in your nice, clean, orderly house. Your mind should be feeling much cleaner and orderly, too.
6. Have a Long, Hot Shower
You may have worked up a sweat with all that cleaning and dancing and exercise. You have earned a nice, long, hot shower.
Just steam away those blues. If you have some soap with a nice fragrance, lather it up well and scrub your skin. Wash your hair with lots of shampoo for a good lather.
You can combine this with #4 and sing as you shower. If it is lost love that is making you blue, sing the song from the show South Pacific, "I’m Going to Wash That Man Right Out of My Hair." (If your lost love is a woman, just change the lyrics and sing “gal” instead of “man.”)
If it is hot day, you can end your shower with some cool, or even cold, water. It’s very bracing. It’s like the Scandinavian custom of sweating in a sauna and then taking a plunge into a cold lake.
"Wash That Man Right Out of My Hair"
7. Treat Yourself to Some Escapism
Read an engaging novel—a mystery, a romance novel, the newest bestseller. This is not the time to tackle War and Peace. Keep it light and breezy.
Watch a funny movie on TV or maybe a favorite movie from your own collection. Keep it light--nothing serious.
Or maybe there is something that you like to do, but never have time to do. Paint a picture, do a craft, anything that you enjoy, but you are always too busy to do. Become totally engrossed in your work. Choose something that you can complete in a few hours so you can have that nice feeling of accomplishment.
8. Call an Old Friend
Call someone you haven’t spoken to for a while. Make sure your friend has time for a long chat. Sit down with a cup of coffee or tea (or even a cup of hot chocolate if that is your comfort food) and talk about whatever is on your mind—anything except whatever is making you blue. You want to forget the negative, not reinforce it. Talk about old times, happy times.
Even better, if weather permits, meet a friend available coffee, lunch, or a drink. Meet this friend at a coffee shop, restaurant, or bar, or just for a walk in the park.The idea is to get out of the house.
P.S. If you are invited to a party, go. If you see someone at the party who appears shy, spend some time with that person. Helping others is a great way to forget your own problems.
Laugh out loud. Do some fake laughing, and it will soon turn to real laughter.
Get yourself into the habit of laughing more. Exaggerate your laughter. If someone tells a lame joke, laugh at it anyway.
Here is some more information about laughter and how to bring more laughter into your life: Why Laughter is Good for You.
10. Act Like a Kid
This one is my favorite. Acting like a kid is incompatible with feeling blue. Don’t be afraid to be silly. If you can find a child to play with you, all the better. Here is a list of fun kid things to do: Act Like a Kid.
Act Like a Kid
11. Have a Spa Day or a Staycation
Let someone pamper you. Have a manicure and pedicure. Enjoy a facial or massage. A man can go to a barbershop for a shave.
Get a new haircut and change the style and color of your hair (You’ll feel like a new you.)
A staycation is doing the things you do on vacation, but doing them close to home. Visit a museum and enjoy the quiet as you browse the exhibits. Go to a café and people-watch. Treat yourself to a meal in a nice restaurant.
This one may cost a little money, but tell yourself you’re worth it.
12. Have a Good Cry
It’s counter-intuitive, but crying can get it the misery out of your system. Prime the pump by watching a sad movie, if you need to. Throw yourself pity-party.
When you have exhausted yourself, go wash your face and try some of the things on this list.
Final Note: You Don’t Have to “Tough It Out”
If your “blue funk” lasts more than two weeks and none of the above “prescriptions” have worked for you, you should consult a professional. Don’t feel like you have ”to tough it out.” You may have a hormone imbalance that can be corrected with a prescription from a doctor. Or perhaps you might benefit from some psychotherapy.
I once went through a period when I was crying all the time. I saw a psychiatrist who prescribed an antidepressant. It took a few months to find the right drug and dosage for me, but I haven’t been “singing the blues” ever since, with one exception.
After many years taking a maintenance dose of Wellbutrin, as prescribed, I told my doctor I would like to wean myself off the drug. I gradually lowered my dosage until I was down to zero. Within a week, I was in a blue funk of depression. I resumed taking the medication and I was soon fine again. I evidently just have low serotonin levels. I tell you my story to urge you to seek help if you need it.
Just For Fun
How often do you have a case of the blues?
© 2017 Catherine Giordano