Curing a Funk

By Kate Riley January 19, 2015

I couldn’t put my finger on it for a few days but then I realized that coming down off the holiday high followed by the excitement of a new year coupled with gloomy weather made me feel like I was in a funk. I know I’m not alone, friends and relatives have mentioned it too. I’m generally a very positive person which makes the state all the more uncomfortable.

There’s funk (we love you Bruno) and then there’s a funk – much different. Every January 1st we share inspirational quotes with the message more or less to “make this year extraordinary” but those left me empty because truthfully I’m very content with the way things are going and the pace in my life and don’t feel any pressure to change it. But I still felt like I was in a funk last week, lacking in all creativity and energy, so I made efforts to change my mood. I realized I had to actually do something to lift my spirits, it wasn’t going to appear out of thin air. A few things worked.

Get Busy Sweating. The hardest part is tying the laces on my trainers, but exercise truly is the best mood changer, I always feel fantastic after a run or some weight lifting sets. Sweat is a go-to cure so I turned to my playlist of favorite jams and I got busy sweating. I’m not where I want to be fitness wise, but working toward my goal makes me feel better. 

girl working out

Get Busy Cleaning. I came home from weeks away in Las Vegas to piles of stuff and papers everywhere and the sight made me want to run screaming for the hills. I knew I had to conquer it in baby steps so I began by organizing my pantry last week. It took three hours, I killed two large spiders in the process, and filled several bags with things I wasn’t using (cookbooks, plates) and dropped them at the Goodwill.

My pantry should win the Most Boring Pantry Ever award, I’ve considered painting it or wallpapering it and photographing it with glass jars filled with flour and pasta with printable labels but then decided no that doesn’t work for me, mine is filled with everyday things like cereal boxes and canned goods and I’m totally fine with that because each time I enter it now I breathe a sigh of relief knowing where everything is and that every single thing in there serves a purpose.

organized linen closet


I want this feeling for my whole house (don’t we all) so on Saturday I tackled my daughter’s room with her help (gah! it’s amazing what they accumulate). My linen closet is next, I figure if I can tackle one or two spots a week I’ll get that same sense of relief that came with the pantry reorganization. (P.S. I love how Jerry describes how we all have too many things – truth!)

Start Making Plans. I took a walk around my yard yesterday, at first glance it was so depressing in winter with so many barren branches but then I remembered it will bud again soon. The benefit was that in dormancy I can see where we might plant a tree or add some shrubs here and there. The same is true for the blank pad of paper that sat in front of me until I filled it with some things I want to do this year: Update the website. Transplant the olive tree. Make more art. Design more fabrics. Visit more wineries, etc.

projects to conquer list

printable to do list found here

I never know where motivation will come from, sometimes an encouraging TED talk or inspirational website, sometimes a book or article that kicks my booty into gear. Other times is the act of creative work, picking up a paintbrush or going outside with my camera. I think when you find whatever it is that helps you recharge – crafting, cooking, solving puzzles, whatever – those activities help you get your groove back.

Seek Out Laughter. When all else fails, I call up my sister or a friend who brings joy while I drink a glass of wine and chances are I leave that conversation feeling better than I did before the connection. Or I turn on a comedy that makes me laugh, that helps too.

What tricks do you use to pull yourself out of a funk? Do you get the same feeling this time of year?


  1. Ahhhh, you hit it on the head! These dreary months are tough! I homeschool three kiddos and they (veterans in HS) tell us that end of Jan and all of feb are the toughest months! Exercising is a MAJOR boost to my soul/mind! If that can’t be done then a cup of coffee and a good phone all to my mom or friend! Loved this post…. Because you spoke TRUTH!!! Ha-blahs BE-GONE!

  2. Kate, this years seems to be really bad for the funk. My family also came down with the nasty cold/flu thing right around New Year’s so we were really in down spirits. This year I decided to get myself out of it by “finishing” rooms. I declared this year the year of the bedroom. I decided that rather than do little projects all around the house, I would tackle one room at a time and take it to full completion. I’m in the middle of doing my oldest son’s room (I’ve posted 2 weeks of updates) and hope to have it complete by early February. Then I will tackle the next bedroom. I love doing projects and have to constantly put blinders on when it comes to the rest of the house. But knowing that one room in my house will shortly be exactly how it should be is strong motivation for me to keep moving forward with it. Thanks for the extra motivation!

  3. This was a great post, so many people after all the excitement and waiting for Christmas and New years go into a funk. Those are awesome ways to get back into the groove of things, I finds sometimes I come upon inspiring posts that put things back into perspective. I also find taking “time off” and just focusing on me or things I’ve been missing out on helps to revive my spirits. Lastly good old company and family always helps me feel better.

    Thanks for sharing :)

    LB Designs

  4. Getting outside! Just taking a walk and really noticing and appreciating the beauty of the trees, flowers, the hills and, lucky for me because we live in San Diego, the ocean! I also have to force myself to stay off the computer/ipad/phone. Disconnecting from technology and the news re-energizes me.

  5. I always like the winter/dormancy/life metaphor. While it’s no fun to feel grumpy or out of sorts, I’ve learned to appreciate the seasons of life and the idea of “this too shall pass.” My garden looks a little dumpy & dowdy right now but I know there’s life teeming below the surface–roots growing, microbes & worms composting like mad, energy being created for the spring flower show. I’m like the garden; doesn’t look like I’m doing much right now but there’s a lot going on!

    Thanks, Kate. Love your ideas for shaking up a funk. And Nancy @ Slightly Coastal, I’m with you. It can be overwhelming to think of doing a whole house. Room by room–done!

    • so true Paula, there is much stirring under the earth! Yep you’re so right Heidi, a period of disconnect with technology and a walk around outdoors works so well!

  6. I started out doing the same thing! I was on Pinterest and saw all these amazing ideas for organizing so decided I was going to do the same. I first I tackled underneath my sink. It had every cleaning item known to man, but no way to get to it all. Then I was so happy how it came out I reorganized my pantry. Then went on to my laundry room. Let me tell you, I must have OCD because I got such a high off of it that you would swear I was on drugs!! I’m not. Trust me! So now that my closers are organized I tried steam cleaning my carpets. But my machine poo-pooed out right in the middle of it all. So I have a wet clean rug and now have to shop vac it dry! Not fun. So now I’m looking for a craft project/DIY for my bathroom. All I can say is summer hurry up!

  7. I’ve been in a cleaning and organizing mode and it has felt really good to see how even a little bit of tidying has helped our home feel less cluttered and me less weighed down. Funks happen and I think just recognizing that funks (I’m not talking about depression) are normal and come and go helps me not get as weighed down by it. Kind of like what Paula said, “this too should pass”. Other things that help me are heart to heart talks, opening all the curtains and blinds on a sunny day, making plans to do something fun so I have something to look forward to (which sometimes means locating a new DIY project to try).:-). I’ve realized I seem to always get in a funk after we’ve been sick because I’m tired from fighting sickness, worrying and taking care of sick kids, and i get behind on things I couldn’t do while I was sick. It helps me to lower my expectations of things and take baby steps and remind myself I will eventually catch up to life. Great post, Kate!:-)

  8. Your thought that all those inspirational quotes can leave us empty really resonated with me because I too, am very content with the way things are going in my life and I don’t feel any pressure to change it. “If it ain’t broken, don’t fix it!” But all things can stand a bit of tweaking and freshening, for sure, si I do find myself diddling here and there fussing and fluffing and renewing. At least that’s MY story and I’m sticking’ to it! Why is it on January 1st we must reinvent the wheel? Everyday is a new chance to change things up a bit- or not. As long as we are grateful and comfortable why the need to mess things up?

    • I love that Joanne, thank you! And you’re right about the smaller lists Shelly, it’s great if we accomplish just one thing on it, right?

  9. I needed to read this today! This weekend I was totally in funk land (and it was even my Birthday weekend, after I’d gotten lots of creative/inspirational gifts!?) I hate the ‘I don’t know why I’m sad’ feeling. Today I found a workout buddy who’s going to go to the gym with me at 5a MWF and I think that’ll really jumpstart my mood into being creative and inspired again. I also love that you know the labeled containers etc. doesn’t work for you! I’ve tried that too, I love how it looks, but it’s not practical for our lifestyle. Another thing I try to do is only have 3 things on my list for each day. If I accomplish more, that’s awesome, if I only accomplish 1, that’s ok too, but 3 is more manageable than a running list for me.

  10. I love these ideas! It’s kind of refreshing to not focus on new years resolutions and instead give yourself a couple of weeks and decide what you really want to work on in life. Taking a real look at competing priorities and deciding what you have time for and what needs to be cut out.

    Sometimes to get out of a funk I treat myself! Usually something small like a manicure, great meal or new pair of shoes, but it’s gets me excited and I get energy to finish incomplete tasks and take on new ones.

  11. I think it is so easy to get into a funk at this time of year. In Michigan, it is so dreary in Winter that you think Spring will never come. I find that if I plan something to look forward to like a girl’s weekend or a trip, it helps my mood. Working up a sweat is a good one, as is going out and laughing with friends. This past year has been especially hard for our family and I make sure to plan some of these things into my day so I can stay afloat. Thanks for such a great post!

  12. Kate, thank you for sharing your feelings. I live in Modesto, which is not to
    Far from where you are. It’s been so dreary and gloomy here. I’ve been really struggling with this myself. I think it’s easy to feel this way after Christmas especially. I went out and bought some pretty green plants for my home, and have tried rearranging accessories around my home. It’s a little silly, but has really helped lift my spirits. Thank you for your honesty, it’s one of the reasons I love your blog! Sincerely, Lori

  13. So agree! I have also been in a “funk.” Horrible! I did the same – got busy cleaning and clearing out. Avoiding my gym since the flu is horrible in our county but trying to get outside and walk despite the bad weather. Glad to know I am not the only one feeling this way!

  14. Like everyone else, I totally agree. January is especially hard – especially for those of us that live in spots where the temperature often drops to -20 C! We got a new puppy over the holidays, so that makes me get out to at least walk – even in the cold temps, the fresh air seems to lift the spirits. And cleaning /purging stuff from our homes, cars, offices, desk – what a difference it makes! And reading uplifting blogs, with great messages (like this one!) always reminds me, that I’m not alone in my funkness (not funkiness!!lol).

    • Thanks Debbie (and everyone) I appreciate your positive words! And I think a PUPPY would cure anyone’s funk !!! :)

  15. Thanks so much for this, it is lovely to see my exact thoughts stated so eloquently! I get into serious organizing mode as I remove Christmas decorations and take our giant tree to be recycled. I love the feeling of getting all the holiday paraphernalia back in it’s place. I stock up on new wrapping paper, cards, tape, ribbons and bows so that the following Christmas I am ready to hit the ground running. I also have decorate my home in two stages, one prior to the tree in mid November and the other around the first weekend in December, so each stage has its own boxes so I am not rummaging through everything like a raccoon.
    I don’t know about everyone else but by the time December 27th rolls around every single thing in my home is out of place and then I start space by space (pantry was my start too :) we have made trips to donate items, we have recycled tons, done some finishing touches of decorating. I have been pretty bananas about organizing drawers in every room with trips to ikea and winners. I am so happy with the results that January feels like it’s flying by and I am hardly noticing the weather as I am so focused on my projects. I play lots of fun music and get lost in the task. I am feeling overwhelmed with photos and old birthday and anniversary cards, I am tryng to figure out the best way to organize them, anyone else struggle with it?

  16. Hi Kate! Yes, I feel something like this. You know I even have a sort of holiday phobia. I am starting having little fears – “what if I am doing something wrong? what if this year will begin exactly like the last one (and it started horrible after the month of seemingly joy) – and that made me suspicious. Besides, I am in the middle of many things so I cannot “start afresh” like it is traditional to say or do. Plus there is a reasonable explanation. We all wait for holidays, for a break. We reunite with our families and friends. We all wait for some New Year miracles even if we know that it ain’t gonna happen. And then holidays finish, no miracles, we are back to challenges of our lives and who knows when we gather in a big circle like this. I had the most wonderful celebration this year – together with my friends and next day everything was over which left me with my thoughts. So, I guess it is normal

  17. I also have to get myself out of this condition – by activities or by putting faith. I think it is useful too – to stop and think what is it we want and not want etcetera. I wish you, Katie, to overcome this with the best conclusions. I hope everything will be good for us. I also noticed that you use all the networks, and would like to offer you following this link –, cause there is a new free iphone photo app that helps to save time and maybe release some energy for everyday activities. Hope you like it.Thanks for the article!Good luck!

  18. Yes, I totally get this! I knew I’d be feeling a little low after visiting with my sons during Christmas so I purposely put off painting my house until I got back from my holiday with them. I cranked up the tunes and got busy. I finished the painting yesterday so now I can turn my attention to planning a garden. For me, walking really helps lift my spirits if I don’t have a project going on.

  19. Absolutely and we are definitely not alone. Exercise and laughter are always the best medicine for me. Faith, family, friends and fun!!!!

  20. Great post! I’m not sure that I have found myself in a true funk after the holidays because now I have time to actually focus on updating our house (we just moved in two months ago). I am finding myself a bit overwhelmed with all of the ideas that are swimming I my head, and the lack of time to do projects – I have two small kiddos! I agree that making little changes in my house can help brighten my mood. After the holidays I completely cleaned out my refrigerator, and reorganized it. I also decided to tackle my pantry. It’s just a small closet, so I painted it, and applied fancy contact paper on the shelves. Like you, Kate, I did not put flour or pasta in fancy glass jars. I did put items in baskets, but I decided to have an “organized for me”, not for a magazine, type of pantry!
    One big thing that has been on my heart lately is decluttering and purging. Even though I purged so much stuff when we moved, I have found that we still have an over-abundance. I decided to get on a decluttering kick again, and this time I started a Facebook group to join me. There are more than 40 members now, and I am excited to share my decluttering journey, tips, and design ideas with others. Someday I hope to find myself back in the design profession :)

  21. i love this post and your honesty about the pantry. It’s nice to be proud of yourself and make things work for you without the stress of doing it for someone else or for a pretty blogpost. Thank you for your simplicity, honesty and inspiration.

Leave a comment!

Keep the conversation going! Your email address will not be published.*


This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Lately on Instagram (@centsationalstyle)