Are You Feeling Funked?

At some point I would like to stop writing about adjusting to life in a world where a deadly virus is among us and get back to sharing my Picture Retirement story. This altered reality is becoming predictable and my attitude has slipped from highly optimistic to complacent with a tinge of dread. In other words, the Bruce Springstein lyrics fit.

Someone once told me that only boring people get bored. He said that clever people think of a way to avoid the condition. Obviously, he had never been isolated at home during a global pandemic. If he had, he might have expressed his thoughts with a little more compassion. I prefer how this Psychology Today article explains boredom.

“When people have low arousal and there is not much happening in the world, then they often feel relaxed. When they have high arousal, though, they have energy they would like to devote to something, but they cannot find anything engaging.”

I fall into the ‘high arousal’ category and just can’t find anything engaging to do with myself right now. Most of what I would like to do has been removed from the list of available choices. I have a lot of little things that create structure, but nothing that is highly motivating or piques an intense interest. I certainly don’t feel ‘relaxed’ most days. I am not anxious, or overly concerned, just somewhat removed as I go through the motions of life.

According to the article, there is another reason why we get bored that makes perfect sense in relation to our current circumstances.

“Boredom often occurs when you have little control over your situation. Waiting rooms, lectures, and airline gates are all places where you have little control over your situation. Normally, we react to unpleasant situations by changing the situation. If you don’t like a book you are reading, for example, you close it and do something else. Boredom happens when you are unable to change the situation.”  

I am disciplined about maintaining a schedule and I find joy in every day, but as they say, ‘variety is the spice of life,’ and right now there just isn’t much variety. It is hard to ‘change the situation’ when so much of life is ‘off the table.’

Wake up, have breakfast, do chores, workout, have lunch, read, play games, relax, dinner prep, have dinner, clean up, watch TV, off to bed. That is the sum total of my existence. If it sounds bland it’s because it is.

I have given up trying to incorporate variety into our meals and have narrowed the selection to seven or eight easy to make favorites. Meal time has become more about sustenance and less about dining.

Daily exercise is the only aspect of my life where I continue to make a concerted effort to incorporate variety. If this lasts much longer, even that may fall victim to being mildly tolerable.

It isn’t just me. Malcolm woke up very lethargic a few days ago. When I asked why, he replied, “I’m funked.” I couldn’t suppress a laugh, considering I had never thought of that word as a verb, but it is perfect to describe this feeling of woefulness. Living in a perpetual funk is not acceptable, so what next? How do we get ‘unfunked’?

Starting now, we will get back to basics and repeat how we began this journey – with optimism and enthusiasm. We accept the fact that ‘temporary’ might just mean ‘a very long time’, and restructure our lives accordingly. It’s time to face reality.

How about you guys? Has your original optimism and enthusiasm waned? Are you still coming up with ways to keep daily life interesting. Is accepting life as it is and being patient the best we can do right now?

Dancing In The Dark

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36 Responses to Are You Feeling Funked?

  1. Laurel says:

    I don’t feel bored, but I feel adrift. I have a long list of things I want to do—including playing my guitar and watercolor painting—things that I haven’t had time to focus on in our seven years of full-time travels. On my good days, I feel positive and happy about the opportunity to use this ‘Great Pause’ as a retreat. Other days, I feel like I’m wading through a fog of uncertainty and grief. A big part of that is that I lost my dad two weeks ago. And part of it is that I’m feeling stranded for an indefinite period of time. I’m grateful that we’ve landed in a safe, beautiful place, but living in the unknown is hard. As one of my meditation teachers recently said in an email, “This is what we’ve been practicing for.” And wow, what a teaching this is turning out to be.

    Like

    • Laurel, my condolences regarding your Dad. I have been following your story, but did not realize he passed away. Adrift, is a great way to describe the feelings I have been having this past week. I can’t seem to find an anchor to settle my mind. What I need is to step back, take stock of all that is good and regain my strength. Your meditation teacher is so right!

      Liked by 1 person

  2. I’ve managed to escape the boredom and the funk but only because I am downsizing and moving in a couple of weeks. So sorting and packing occupy my days during this pandemic. Friends are jealous. Imagine being jealous of someone who is in the process of moving!

    Deb

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I have been definitely ‘funked’ on and off. It’s not like I led an exciting life ‘before’ this all started, but we’re on Day 60 today of stay at home, and it wears you down. When it began, and they were talking months, I couldn’t even comprehend it. Now, we’re living it. On good days, I work outside which tires me out physically and helps mentally. On other days, well, I have to really work at being productive. Thank goodness our local Goodwill store is now accepting donations because I’ve been hauling all the stuff I’ve cleaned out of the attic, cupboards, closets, and garage. That’s definitely been a good thing. The sun is shining today and I have some gardening to do – both good things. Take care.

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    • You just gave me a great idea. I need to call again and see if donation sites are opening up in our area. We have been putting off cleaning the garage because we have no where to take the stuff. That would go a long way towards restoring control.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Roadtirement says:

    We have been in “isolation” since Feb. 25th. We are lucky to have our adult son who does the shopping, thus we can remain safely away from the public. Funked. Good use of the word. We are going to add a flower garden and larger vegetable garden. (See our last post) These two projects will hopefully give us new goals to reach. As both of us are of the age 65+ and I have those pesky “underlying health concerns”, we are not anxious to get back into the public arena until there is a viable treatment and/or vaccine.

    Like

    • Setting new goals to reach is a good idea. I do that every day with my exercise routine and find it very helpful. It’s the remainder of the day that makes me stir crazy. Time to reconnect to creativity and imagination! Thanks!

      Like

  5. Erica/Erika says:

    Hi Suzanne, You remind me how it is always easier dishing out good advice when the going is good. Your word “compassion” is a good reminder for today’s world and always. A very interesting quote from “Psychology Today.” It helps describe how many of us are feeling. “…unable to change the situation.”

    I am similar to you with my routine and generally healthy habits. Words that come to mind are a low level malaise, suppressing emotions when reading and concerned about the world create a low level fatigue, lethargy. And yes, funked.

    For me, I more in the “acceptance” stage and how do we move forward. I am concerned about the complacency beginning to appear. I do still have low periods. Funks. I feel best when I lose myself in a creative project. I sometimes feel a bit of judginess out there when I attempt to see beauty and the positive in my day. I am not in denial. Too exhausting to be 100%, 24/7, pandemic mode. Thanks for your candor and expressing your feelings well, Suzanne. You are sharing what many of us are feeling. You highlight moving forward with optimism and enthusiasm. Admirable philosophies and goals!

    Like

    • Erica, I typically write what I feel, which means showing all sides of myself, vulnerabilities included. I can’t worry about whether that is good or bad in this arena, it’s just me. Along with my funk came a lack of creativity, which you continue to have in spades. I so enjoy that about you, and others who are able to carry on with beautiful, uplifting posts. Those keep me going and remind me that not everything is, or should be, about Covid19. There is life after. Loved your flowers, woods and words post!!

      Liked by 1 person

      • Erica/Erika says:

        I always enjoy your posts, Suzanne. I love how you are candid, honest and multi-layered. Your posts resonate with me, since you articulate well how I am feeling. I also have my days where I get into a serious funk. The following day I may wake up with more of a bounce in my step. This time period is very surreal and unprecedented. Our next step is figuring out this “bubble” approach. Something about a group of six people make a pact to only associate with each other. For me this means “Sophie’s Choice” with my two daughters and their families. And, here I go again……a funk. Lol. Definitely emotional ups and downs. I greatly appreciate how we support and accept each other. This forum feels like a very safe place. A great place to be right now. Thank you, Suzanne!

        Liked by 1 person

  6. Tamara says:

    I interpret boredom as a sign that I’ve become apathetic, because clearly most of us have umpteen million things we could do, but for whatever reason we just don’t want to. And the not wanting to is the real problem. Life feels so very flat right now, and it, well, sucks!

    Ok, I feel better! (Ha!)

    What makes me feel better is being outside, so I try very hard to do that each and every day. And being physically tired at day’s end also helps, so I’m walking miles and miles each day, often times exploring new areas in my community, which has actually been fun and reminiscent of when we explore while RVing. We just got some limited parking reopened at our harbor, and being back on the water via my kayak and paddle board has been beyond wonderful, so that is another way I escape.

    Picnic dinners with family and friends is now making a reappearance, with, obviously, no sharing of anything and 6+ ft. of social distancing. So it gives me an opportunity to prepare some new types of portable recipes, and something, yeah, fun to look forward to.

    Sigh. Life is hard right now, and like you, I’ve altered my timeline of how long it may remain this way from months to possibly one-two years. It helps immensely to hear and talk with others struggling as well, so thank you. 💖

    Like

    • Tamara, I agree – being outside is the very best medicine. I keep mixing up my morning routine to include pool time, backboard tennis, biking and jogging with the same intent that you stated – to be outside as long as possible and tire myself out! Intellectually, I know what to do, but as you say, apathy has set in and I feel as though I am drifting. I need a trip to someplace beautiful!

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  7. dawnkinster says:

    I could be cleaning closets or organizing the basement, both are desperately needed, but I don’t want to. Didn’t want to before the pandemic, don’t want to now. I have friends that are getting all clean and organized. I might start with the sock drawer so I feel less pathetic. Or maybe I’ll take a nap.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Dawn, I cracked up at the ‘sock drawer.’ I should post a picture of our laundry basket that is now spilling over with mismatched socks. With four of us in the house, it just continues to get more and more out of control and no one cares. Most days we just pull out two pieces that almost match! I’m with you on taking a nap.

      Liked by 1 person

  8. Gilda Baxter says:

    Suzanne, thank you for sharing your feelings. I think it is important to share, particularly because so many of us can totally relate. I have mostly good days, with the occasional “funk day”. I try to go outdoors every day and recently have started enjoying cycling. Sometimes managing to do 30 to 40 km. It really tires me out and I sleep well afterward. I am looking forward to starting to meet people for outdoor activities. We are now allowed to meet one other person outside of our household, as long as we do keep to social distance. It is hard to accept how much our lives have changed, but I do remain optimistic that things will start improving soon and will keep taking one day at a time.

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    • Gilda, some of my friends are beginning to play tennis again and as much as I would like to play, I’m not ready for what that means in terms of exposure. Yesterday I went to the market for the very first time since March. It was insane and I won’t do it again soon. Some people are very compliant and others are throwing caution to the wind. I saw a man pick up at least six apples before he selected one. How can you protect yourself against that? Do you know of any islands for sale that have maid and butler service? Oh, and I’ll also need an internet connection. Seriously, this won’t last and I will get back to my chipper self, but for now, I’m having a good wallow. Glad to know it isn’t just me.

      Like

  9. Easin' Along says:

    Hi, Suzanne,
    It’s interesting to read the comments above and notice the similarities in the daily activities of us, your readers. We’re all exercising, cleaning, cooking, and reading. Some of us are even writing. We’re going ahead with a three month RV trip starting in June and, the planning and preparation for the trip keeps the “funk” at bay for now. I have found some excellent new recipes for One Skillet Meals that are fun to prepare and eat. Fortunately, the low density of the population around here make me feel a bit more comfortable about getting out. Hang in there! This, too, shall pass!

    Like

    • Joe, I would love to have a trip to plan for. That is an activity that used to be a big part of our ‘at home’ time. We typically have an idea of what the next trip will look like even before the current one is completed. That void is clearly contributing to my current funk. It has been almost three months since we last traveled. It will be interesting to watch your trip unfold. Let’s hope the adaptations are minimal.

      Liked by 1 person

  10. Like a lot of people, I thought sheltering in place was something we’d have to do for a month or so until the powers that be figured this out. How naive was that!!?? Now, it appears that, at least those of us who are over 60 and are retired, will be doing this for a long, long time. And, yes, I feel funked some of the time. I wouldn’t say that I am bored, but my options of things to do often aren’t very compelling. I find that a few zooms with friends, neighborhood walks (I love Tamara’s idea of exploring new areas in my community), and driveway happy hours go a long way to making me feel more normal. I guess I’m somewhere between a low and high arousal person. I’m happy being quiet and doing things on my own, but I love to have adventures and enjoy the company of good friends.

    Like

    • Janis, I found the two Psychology Today labels of ‘low arousal’ and ‘high arousal’ interesting. As an introvert, I like stimulation that oftentimes does not include people, so the ‘high arousal’/boredom fits perfectly for me in this situation. Having choices, but not necessarily the ones I want are contributing to my funk. Travel has filled that need for me for the past fifteen years, since retiring. Having no prospects of that happening anytime soon is finally seeping into my consciousness. At this point I feel like I have blown through all of my safety nets (creative ways to spend time) and need to slow down and regroup. You are right, this is going to be a much longer process for those of us who don’t have a job and responsibilities to go back to. Thanks for your insights.

      Liked by 1 person

  11. Natalie says:

    Hi Suzanne, I think your plan “Starting now, we will get back to basics and repeat how we began this journey – with optimism and enthusiasm.” is a very good one. I haven’t experienced the boredom and the funk yet. I’m putting in a good fight 🙂
    I think our expectations of this pandemic situation affect how we feel as time goes on. In mid-March when my province started the lockdown, I looked at the situation in Wuhan and told myself that it would take at least three months (e.g. until June) for the restrictions to be lifted in Ontario. Mentally I was prepared to stay at home, except for short walks and groceries until June. My province just started allowing a few seasonal businesses to open on May 4 with plan for gradual opening of more businesses in the coming weeks. In a way, the May openings exceeded my expectations.
    I also think that there are diseases that exist without cure and we have been living with them all this time. So I’m not going to stop living or spend time waiting until we have a cure for COVID-19. I’ll follow all health advice and do the best I can to keep myself and other people safe while keep on living.
    As a side note, Bruce Springsteen is smoking hot in that video and Courtney Cox who got to go upstage to dance with him looked gorgeous. He’s still handsome and she’s still gorgeous. I ended up listening to more Bruce Springsteen songs. I hope you and Malcolm get your mojo back soon.

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  12. Hi, Suzanne (and Malcolm) – ‘Funked’ is an excellent description. Richard and I have been lucky to have a bit of variety during the past two months (foster dog, son staying with us from UK, major ceiling leak (okay that normally wouldn’t be a good thing, but it did call for lots of problem-solving and lots of diversion). I have admittedly spent way too much time food-prepping and cooking….. Funny, both husband and son have not complained about that! 😀

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    • Hi Donna, I get what you mean about the leaky roof – ‘problem solving’ is woefully absent from our lives. The biggest decision of the day is what to cook. Having the kids live with us is what keeps me sane most days. At least they provide a diversion from the ordinary.

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  13. patwdoyle11 says:

    Suzanne, This completely resonated with me! The other day, I just couldn’t even find the energy to open the book I was reading… yes, nothing felt interesting in that moment. It wasn’t boredom… I was in a funk! I’m in the process of grieving of the losses – recognizing that yes, some of this is for the long haul – and trying to figure out a new normal. I won’t be returning to classes (yoga, workout, cooking classes or other in-person art classes), I won’t be returning to the theater (for a while) nor arts & crafts shows. So what am I going to do moving forward… yes, I’m trying to regain control! Thanks for a great perspective on boredom and feeling funked.

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  14. Hi Suzanne, I can certainly understand that when we feel lethargic the circle begins of feeling lethargic, not in the mood, can’t be bothered. For me live hasn’t changed too dramatically but maintaining my fitness routine is always important to me for both mental and physical health. I’ve been doing a 30 day Yoga challenge which I am thoroughly enjoying. I’ve also been pushing through and actually finished my Fitness Certification last week which I feel so proud of. I didn’t let the social distancing rules get in the way and found a Virtual Studio at Strong Healthy Women for me to complete my group session practical assignments using Zoom. Now that I’ve finished I’m hoping that boredom doesn’t strike. I need purpose in my life and have found lately that finding creativity and writing for the blog and social media has been difficult. Perhaps now that I have more time after finishing my course, my creativity might return. Have a lovely week and hopefully life will start to become easier soon. We have had some restrictions lifted but I’m being cautious. 🙂

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    • Hi Sue, congratulations for having completed your Fitness Certification. I know that has been very important to you lately. I also use exercise to maintain mental and physical health, but lately it has not been enough. Being outside in the morning is by far the best part of my day. It’s the middle part that drags for me. I do a lot of puttering around the house, but I don’t have any long-term projects to keep me focused. I am reading a lot more, and I’m working out a plan to keep our book club moving forward, so possibly that will create the stimulation that my mind craves. Restrictions are lifting here, but I am not anxious to rejoin humanity. Best of luck to you and keep writing. Your words are always encouraging.

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  15. Tracey says:

    In spite of consolidating house-holds and trying to move, I feel it too. I curb shopped at New Balance to get some long over due running shoes andI got really excited to see a raccoon in the backyard yesterday. I even sat down and tried to play the piano (neglected and out of tune.) A week of high-lights so far! Haha!

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  16. Laurie says:

    I am with you! I have been in and out of a funk for weeks now. I keep wanting to get back to “real life” but I realize this IS my real life now. I just have to learn to accept it. Yesterday my husband said, “This pandemic is taking some of our best traveling years.”
    so true. I hope we are both back on the road again soon!

    Like

    • Laurie, my mind knows the score but my heart isn’t ready to accept it. The biggest thing weighing on my mind is travel. Your husband is right. These are our best traveling years and I fear that the next two will be wasted. The irony of it all is that we have always thought that when we get old we would see the world on a cruise ship!!

      Like

  17. Joanne Sisco says:

    Yup – you nailed it. Last week for me was one big long funk.

    I was angry, I was sad, I was lethargic, and my creative muse abandoned me. Tears were shed. Popcorn and chocolate were eaten. Hours of Netflix were watched.

    Now I feel like I’m back on a more level keel again. I’ve come to the conclusion that this is just the normal tide of emotions that come and go during a period of great uncertainty.

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  18. Dr Sock says:

    Suzanne, for me the funk hit when it finally sank in that the restrictions to our lives were going to last months or years rather than two weeks. (Yes, at the beginning, I naively believed that we would be self-isolating for a few weeks.) However, even in the depths of my funk, I was never bored. There is just way too much to do in my life to ever be bored: gardening, cooking, baking, phone calls with friends and family, messenger and FaceTime with grandkids, reading books, cleaning, reading news stories and scientific articles about COVID (up to 3 hours a day – ugg), Netflix, stacking firewood, removing invasive plants from the roadsides, learning a second language online, zoom meetings with blogging friends and writing group and book club, yoga via zoom, academic work, long walks and hikes, cycling, socially distanced get-togethers with friends and family, card playing, and writing. I’m finally back to working on my novels in progress, which has done a lot to restore my mental balance. I’m still not back to painting, strangely. And somehow, organizing my photos never seems to make it onto the list of things to do.

    Jude

    Like

    • Jude, my head is spinning at the thought of all your activities. Technically, I should never be bored, but it is a condition I will briefly own in the absence of imagination. Next week will be better. There is always something that doesn’t quite make it onto the priority list. You will get to those photos eventually.

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