14 Ways to Feel Better When You’re Stuck in a Rut
What do weddings, vacations, and job promotions have in common? They all evoke celebration. There’s nothing like the thrill every time we have an exciting event or life update. But when exciting things aren’t happening, life can seem rather, well, dull. Maybe you already went on your big vacation for the year, don’t have any weddings this season, or are feeling pretty meh in your career. Every day is filled with errands to run, bills to pay, and chores to do, and it doesn’t feel like there’s much to celebrate besides making it to Friday every week. Even if you are working towards exciting goals, we all have those stuck-in-a-rut periods. Let’s face it: normal doesn’t exactly give you butterflies. But that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t enjoy life and make the most of even “normal” days. Read on for how to get out of a rut and get excited when you don’t have much going on.
1. Do something different
Is even your “off-time” or “fun days” spent in the same routine? Maybe you binge Netflix every evening or go to the same bar every Saturday. The truth is that nothing will feel different until you do something different. Switch up your routine by spending your off-time more intentionally. Read a new book in your evenings, take a walk on a route you’ve never been on, or try a new restaurant on your night out. When there’s nothing new going on in your life, make something new.
2. Channel your most fierce self
Flip through any fashion magazine and you’ll likely find a celeb or two sashaying through the airport or grocery shopping while still looking fabulous. Besides the fact that wearing stilettos while traveling is utterly wild, we can take some inspo from being #extra. Even if you have nowhere to go, put in some extra effort to channel your most fierce self: throw on your best OOTD, do your favorite hairstyle, or perfect a killer cat-eye flick, even if it’s a casual lunch with your BFF or picking up dry cleaning.
3. Practice mindfulness
When we feel “stuck in a rut,” we’re usually responding to what we thought would or should happen. We feel disappointed in the moment because we’re missing out on what we thought should be happening (like feeling bored in your career just because you thought you’d have a promotion by now). Use mindfulness to stay in the moment and accept the present, rather than thinking of the past or what could’ve been.
4. Move your body
When you’re feeling blah, a workout might just be what the doctor ordered (literally). Exercise can help boost your mood, but can also change the way you see about yourself. I love to run and listen to something inspirational while pushing myself. If I’m a little grumpy at the beginning of my run, I’ll almost always end get into a good mood by the end of it.
5. Use self-talk
When we don’t get what we want, it’s easy to reinforce negative thoughts and emotions. One bad day can easily spiral into bad weeks or bad months because the mind gets into habits. Many of us are flooded with negative thoughts before we even step out of bed, and don’t even recognize it because we are so used to thinking that way. Pay attention to the messages you’re telling yourself, and replace negative thoughts with something a little healthier and more optimistic. You may be surprised by how your mood improves.
6. Give what you think you are lacking
If you’re feeling particularly negative, try giving someone whatever it is that you think you need, whether it be advice, attention, or a kind gesture. When you feel lack of something, whether it’s excitement, joy, love, or time, giving it to someone else will show you how much of it you actually have. Spoiler alert: be prepared to feel wowed by the good vibes that come with spending your time and energy on someone else.
7. Search for (any) jobs
The other day I was perusing the web and came across a few job openings that looked interesting but were nowhere near my current industry. I compared my skills to the job requirements and thought about what experience I would need to gain to get the jobs that excited me the most. It gave me renewed insight into what I really want to do the skills I need to do it. So if you’re feeling in a career rut, a job search may invigorate you with a new direction or excitement to land your dream job.
8. Practice gratitude
When you’re in a rut, it takes a bit of effort to move through bad moods with a healthy dose of self-encouragement. But when you focus on what you are grateful for, you show yourself that you don’t need special events in order to feel happy, and your ability to thrive isn’t dependent upon your circumstances.
Reading is the next best thing to actually taking a vacation. Think about it: you can be transported to another world or time period in a matter of seconds and without spending a lot of money. Reading about a totally different world than your own reality will give you distance and an opportunity to gain a new perspective. You may also find some teachable moments you can use to manage your own stress. If you’re feeling bored, read a book that takes place in a totally different country or time zone, or if you’re feeling uninspired, read a book that will boost your mood.
You probably already know that journaling can be therapeutic. When you journal, you allow yourself to get all disappointments, failures, regrets, or worries out of your head and onto paper. At the same time, you can also use journaling to focus on joys, accomplishments, wins, and goals. Journal depending on what you think you need. For example, if you feel like you have a lot of emotions and stressors built up, let it all out on paper. If you’re realizing that you’re being a little extra negative, journal about the things you have to be grateful for. You can also track changes and progress made by seeing how your journaling changes day-to-day.
11. Change up your home
Our home environment can reflect our emotional state. If you’re feeling uninspired in your life, your home probably shows it. But on the other hand, changing your environment can affect your overall outlook on life. Small changes in your space like moving a chair to another corner, placing your couch in a different direction, or adding a new piece of art can make any room feel totally different. The change of environment can help you change perspective, find more motivation, or find a new routine. Rearranging a room or switching up your furniture placement will feel like a change in your environment (always good for getting out of a rut!) and might even help you see things differently.
12. Learn something new
They say if you aren’t learning, you aren’t growing. Sometimes, we get stuck in a rut because we don’t feel like we’re growing or that we’re getting any closer to achieving what we want out of life. So the easiest answer is to do something to get what you want out of life. Knowledge is power, and learning something new will not only make you feel more inspired, but might actually help you feel closer to your goals. Whether or not it’s directly related to your career, side hustle, or hobby, take a class that sounds interesting, dive into an educational book, or spend time looking up how-to videos on Youtube (there’s a lot you can learn!).
13. Clean out your closet
Just like your home, your closet can be a great indicator of how you feel emotionally. Too many clothes, too few clothes, clothes we’ll never wear, clothes we can’t find because they’re burried in piles—you name it, it has meaning. You know the saying, “dress for the job you want, not the job you have?” What we wear can change what we think about ourselves, and what we think about ourselves changes everything from our emotions to our actions. When we have an overcrowded closet or a wardrobe that does not support our best selves, it’s another example of holding ourselves back from the life we truly want. Give away the clothes that don’t bring out the best in you or that you don’t love, and make room for new clothes that will allow you to dress for the life you want.
14. Romanticize the mundane
Getting out of a rut is easier said than done. But often, all it takes to feel like we’re in a period of time worth celebrating is to find things to celebrate. Even if don’t have any exciting events in the near future, feel stuck in your career, or are bored of the same old routine, you can find little wins to celebrate and little moments to appreciate. For example, make yourself your favorite meal for a random lunch, just because it’s Tuesday, or stop for ice cream on the way home from work, just because you want to. Celebrate folding an entire load of laundry by throwing yourself a dance party or have your best friend over for wine night to celebrate the compliment you got from your boss. The more you romanticize the mundane by finding the “special” in the ordinary, you’ll learn that you can create your own happiness while still striving to achieve goals.