Feeling Like You’re in a Rut? 4 Ways to Get Out

We’re approaching a new year and maybe you’re feeling a bit overwhelmed but cannot determine the exact cause of your mood. Stress does not really hide in plain sight; it is our lack of awareness and attentiveness to our own needs that allow stress to dictate our emotional states and even future, at times. Sometimes we feel less motivated, exhausted, hopeless, nervous, irritable, sad, etc. If you do not have a serious illness tied to your symptoms, perhaps it really is all in your head. But there is no need to be a victim of stress, as most of us are in positions to redirect our lives, move forward, and simply feel better.  

Here are some tips to get you started or in some cases, help you return to your course of action. 

  1. Get to know yourself. It is our individual personalities that make us unique and sometimes, a bit neurotic. Do you over-think? Thinking, thinking, and more thinking can really get the best of us. We’re only human, so of course, we’re inclined to think. But thoughts become disruptive when they serve to discourage and destroy our plans. The way you feel is often linked to the way you think. Maybe you’re planning to start a new job or new project; but you start to think, ‘this is not the right time,’ ‘I’ve been at my current job for too long,’ etc…before you know it, you have reinforced your rut. Since the mind is so powerful, it may be a good idea to record (maybe through journaling or post-it notes) all of the positive aspects of proceeding with your plan and return to this daily. I’m reminded of a yoga instructor’s quote during a hot yoga class, “leave your brain outside; it’s waiting to hijack you.” (Original author unknown)
  2. Normalize your depression and anxiety; embrace it and use it as an opportunity to learn something about yourself. It’s normal to get down and out periodically. Depending on where you live, the change of season, lack of sunshine, and cold weather may trigger your rut. We’re more likely to hibernate when it’s cold outside…although it is actually okay to go out in the cold and snow, even. But if you must stay inside, hibernation does not have to equal isolation; so maintain social interactions. When your worries and sadness are kicking in, think of the last time you felt this way; how long did it last? Normal emotional distress is intermittent, but can nonetheless feels never-ending. Well it isn’t. So when it happens, think to yourself, ‘I’ve been here before and came out on the other side.’ 
  3. Make a plan for the New Year. This can be fun and exciting as it’s like a reset button that restores hope. Perhaps you’re feeling discouraged or anxious because you did not quite accomplish the goals that you set for the current year. It’s December and the pressure is hard at work and your thoughts are all over the place. Get out of your own head. You didn’t do everything on your list? So what? It is really not that big of a deal. You still have time. If something on your list is that relevant and you have reason to believe that it could contribute to your wellbeing and end game, then it is worth carrying over to the coming year. 
  4. Treat yourself to something that requires discipline; this is very empowering. I recall completing the 30-day Bikram Yoga challenge. …my younger sister did it first and I thought, ‘If she could do it so can I.’ Well, it was definitely a challenge that required much discipline; but once I committed, ironically, I felt immensely liberated and more focused than ever. Of course I still had to carry on with my usual activities so I had to find the time. I was up and out of the house at hours that were once simply off limits for me. Maybe for you, cutting out certain foods, meditating, therapy, or committing to another workout routine is more ideal. But whatever you decide, commit to it for a set number of days and see what happens.

Unless we feed and nourish them, Ruts are only temporary.

Remember: Take care of your mental and physical health. Maintain your annual exams. If something feels unusual seek professional help; this could mean visiting your primary care physician and /or seeking therapy.