One of the metaphorical definitions of a rut is “a habit or pattern of behavior that has become dull and unproductive but it hard to change”. When was the last time you felt like you were stuck in a rut? Whether you feel like you can’t snap out of a bad mood, have no motivation, or can’t get past a plateau that you’ve hit, I hear you. I’m trying to get myself out of a rut right now. See, many little things have happened over the past couple of months that have resulted in me feeling like I’m incapable of making progress – progress in my health, relationships, and career.
What has being in a rut looked/sounded/felt like for me? Different things. First, I haven’t had an appetite – I’ve had nerves of steel, and feeling this way never makes me hungry. I’ve also felt extreme overwhelm with many day-to-day tasks and responsibilities that I normally do just fine with, which stresses me out even more. Why can’t I just get these things done? This rut of mine has sounded like me beating myself up from negative self-talk, for being too embarrassed to speak up or ask for help. It’s quite exhausting. Some nights, I’ve come home and been so mentally and emotionally exhausted that I have gone straight to bed without dinner or anything close to quality time with my boyfriend.
I’ve wholeheartedly just felt so stuck, and it’s a paralyzing feeling. I do know I’m not the only one that’s been here before. Over the past few days, however, I finally told myself that I am the only one keeping myself in this rut, and I vowed to break myself out of it. If there’s one thing I know, it’s that everything is temporary (which is reassuring and terrifying at the same time). If I had to guestimate, I would say that usually I’m positive and happy 95 percent of the time, and right now I’m working my way back to that from what feels like maybe a 50 point decrease.
Of course, I am no expert in how to get out of a rut! I’ve been reading and listening to other people’s advice to see what felt useful and right to me. Today, I’m happy to share with you what strategies I am trying to get myself out of this funk.
1. Find a quiet place, and ask yourself, “What got me here?”
When you’re feeling overwhelmed and stuck by life in general, it’s important to take a step back. Find a quiet spot – draw a bath or take a walk outside – and realize what exactly has you feeling so stuck – pinpoint specific moments/results/feelings that got you to this rut and write them down.
2. Write Down What You’re Thankful for and WHY.
Remembering your blessings in life – whether it’s your good health, strong friendships, fun hobbies, loving family, etc. – is a surefire way to help your mind get recentered. Focusing your mind on positive, good things will help your mindset heal and your perceptions will have space to change.
3. Redefine What Matters.
Everyone has a purpose – what are you waking up for today? Don’t dwell on what you didn’t accomplish in the past, focus on what you’d like to accomplish today. Focus on 1-2 realistic short-term goals that you can work towards (this will start to help build yourself up again!).
4. Talk to Someone.
If you’re anything like me, it’s terrifying to “spill the beans” and talk to someone about how bad/anxcious/not great you’re feeling. I hate not feeling like I have my sh** together – it’s definitely the Type A perfectionist in me. Simply acknowledging your rut by talking to a trusted friend, your sister, or a therapist will lift a huge weight off your shoulders just by admitting it’s real and having the space to confront it with support from people you trust.
5. Create a Mantra.
I’ve written about mantras before, and I fully believe in the power they bestow when used often and intentionally. For me, I’ve been repeating a short mantra to myself the past couple of days, “I am alive, healthy, and whole,” which has helped me feel more grateful and positive throughout my days.
These are just a few ways to start helping yourself out of a rut – what works well for me may not work at all for you. Getting out of a rut is such a mental process – I encourage everyone that’s feeling the same way as me to take the time to figure out what is going to help your own mind heal and start to feel more like yourself again.
I would love to hear from those of you who have experienced something similar before. What helped you overcome your rut? Connect with me in the comments below.