Be honest, do you ever feel … Stuck?
Maybe you feel like your days are starting to blend together, or you’re always doing the same thing every day? If you were to compare it to physical activity, it would be like treading water or jogging in place. It’s a fine line, but our dependable routines can often turn into ruts.
Ruts can apply to almost anything in our lives: our relationships, professional careers, hobbies, or exercise schedules. If you get into a rut, you might feel like you’re plateauing on your way towards a goal – which can lead to feelings of dissatisfaction or discouragement.
If we repeat something too many times, our brains’ habitual electrical patterns can cause us to go into a rut. Our past experiences shape present and future behaviour, so when we’re faced with a new situation, our brains will often apply rules based on prior events to match. This means that we might not be able to find a change in our thinking patterns and approach things with newness.
- Every day seems the same. Maybe your work week feels like one long day or you can’t tell if it’s Monday or Thursday.
- You’re just “going through the motions.” You might feel like you’re just trying to get through another day and feel a lack of inspiration.
- You feel unmotivated. You might want to take on new projects or engage in creative tasks, but it feels like your motivation has run dry. Maybe you’re struggling with getting started, or maybe you can’t seem to finish things.
- You feel unfulfilled. You want to try new things, but you don’t know where to begin.
How do ruts affect our health?
The act of being “mentally stuck” forces us to be in a chronic state of stress and discomfort. Staying in a “chronic state” can result in our bodies becoming exhausted and weak. Studies have shown that chronic mild stress is far more harmful physically and psychologically than intense but scattered stressful events.
How do we get out of a rut? Try these six tips
- Set small attainable goals. Small wins can make you feel like you’re getting out of a funk and give you a sense of accomplishment which you may be lacking right now.
- Practice mindful meditation. Meditation is a great way of separating your feelings of worth from your thoughts.
- Set your own definitions! Define your own priorities and redefine how purpose shows up in your career.
- Level up. Working on yourself is a great way to feel more refreshed with your own skills. Take a course or attend a seminar.
- Do something physical. There’s a growing body of evidence that exercise can alleviate many of the symptoms of anxiety and depression. If you’re able to get outside, the fresh air will help clear your head. Researchers speculate that when we’re in nature, our fight-or-flight stress response subsides in favor of a calmer state.
- Change it up. Routines can be helpful, but they can also drag us down. Switch up little things in your day to bring back some excitement and newness – whether it’s asking a new friend to a virtual coffee or trying a new workout in the morning.