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You’ve been feeling this way, stuck in a rut, for some time. As though your life is somehow slipping through your fingers. You feel as though every day is just an exercise in treading water. You exist. But you’re not really alive. The current pandemic certainly won’t have helped matters, but you’re self-aware enough to know that it’s not the cause. Should you resign yourself to going on like this, with one day blurring into another, and all the colour slowly draining from your life? Or should you take decisive action?

wooden figure lying over rocks with a rock on its back

When we get stuck in a rut, it can feel as though we’re no longer in control of our lives. We can feel like a train that’s unable to remove itself from a track it doesn’t want to be on, lurching with dread towards an uncertain destination. We can become prone to lethargy and depression. It can affect our relationship with our partners, our kids, our friends and work colleagues. 

But you are not powerless to intervene on your own behalf. You can, and will, break out of this rut. Here’s how…

Know the signs of being stuck in a rut

The earlier you recognise the signs that you’ve become stuck in a rut, the better placed you are to try and haul yourself out of it. When we’re working every hour that God sends. Then collapsing in front of the TV for a couple of hours then heading off to bed, it can be difficult to be introspective. Sometimes, it can feel as though it’s all we can do to get from one day to another. There’s a difference between being busy and being stuck in a rut. Look out for the following signs, and be honest with yourself if they begin to stack up…

You don’t look forward to anything (except possibly curling up in bed and retreating into the world of dreams for a few hours).

You’re often unsure what day it is. Do you need to be reminded whether it’s Tuesday or Wednesday? 

You fantasise about being somewhere, anywhere else. 

You’ve stopped caring about making your home (or yourself) look nice. This is because you no longer see the point.

When you have free time, you’re too tired to do anything with it… so you spend it in front of the TV but feel guilty and unfulfilled afterwards.

You feel as though you’re yearning for something new, but never have the energy to try.

Maybe you feel as though you’re always busy but never get anything done.

You know that something needs to change, but you can’t face the temporary pain and discomfort that come with change, so you leave things the way you are. 

Make a decisive change

There are lots of ways in which our lives can get stuck in a rut. Our jobs, our careers, our communities and our relationships can become a prison. Sometimes, you may not even know exactly what’s wrong until you start implementing decisive changes. 

These can be relatively minor but nonetheless impactful changes like renovating your homechanging your wardrobe or doing something different with your hair. Or they could be huge changes like ending a relationship, quitting your job or getting in touch with a removals company and moving to a new home. Obviously huge changes are not to be entered into lightly, so if you’re unsure what’s got you stuck in a rut, try making minor or cosmetic changes first to see if they reawaken your senses and help you to feel happier with your lot in life. 

Look after your mind and body

Often when we’re stuck in a rut, it’s because we’re not taking care of ourselves. Remember that our perception determines our reality. And when we don’t look after our minds and bodies, our view of the world will inevitably become bleak and pessimistic. 

Whatever other changes you feel it necessary to make in your life, be sure to take steps to look after yourself. You’d be astonished by how much cleaning up your diet can affect your mental health. Likewise, taking the time out to exercise regularly can not only give you an endorphin boost but can give you greater feelings of self-belief and confidence. 

Try to give yourself something to look forward to every day, even if it’s just something as simple as a long hot bath, a chapter of a really good book or some snuggles with your significant other. Try and spend some time outdoors every day, and when you can’t bring the outdoors indoors by letting plants and flowers into your home. Here are more tips to help you beat the blues and find your mojo.

wooden figures struggling to move rocks

Know what you really want (and make a plan of action)

We can’t hope to improve our lives and break ourself out of a rut if we’re unsure what we want in our lives. As we get older we become so used to making concessions for others and putting others first. This is especially true if we have kids. We can lose sight of what we want. But when that happens, it’s only a matter of time until resentment starts to rear its ugly head. 

Take some time to think about what you really want. Think of what will bring you happiness and fulfilment. Commit it to writing. Establish a set of short term and long term goals. Some should be realistic and achievable, but don’t be afraid to shoot for the sky in others. When you have decided on what you want, decide upon a plan of action for each. This plan of action will help you to achieve your goals. 

If we don’t have a clear objective, you may find that you’re not moving forward, but going around in circles. 

Get proactive about keeping yourself motivated

Whether you want to get in the best shape of your life or take your career to new heights, it’s important to keep yourself motivated. But motivation isn’t a gift from a higher power, that’s doled out from above arbitrarily. We need to be proactive and find our own. 

Be sure to divide ambitious goals into small, achievable steps. Make sure that you find a way to reward yourself for every time you get one step closer to achieving your goals. 

You might not break out of your rut overnight. Though with patience, discipline and tenacity you can achieve your dreams. You can bring the colour back to your life.

Breaking Out of a Rut: A Guide

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