Being stuck in a rut is something we’ve all experienced at one point or another in our lives. It could be a week long rut, a year rut or even feeling struck in that rut for many continuous years.
Sometimes we can be in it for weeks or months before we even realize we’re stuck in a rut, and it’s not a nice place to be. This post will explain what it means to be stuck in a rut, the possible warning signs and some quick and easy ways to start the journey out of it.
So what does stuck in a rut mean?
Put simply it means that you feel no momentum or progress in your life. Your life feels like it’s the same thing day after day, and while you’re not necessarily unhappy and “things could be worse”, it leaves you feeling dissatisfied and quite unmotivated. If left unchecked it can lead to more serious mental health issues such as depression.
What are some warning signs of being stuck in a rut?
1 – Your days start to blur together. It’s not uncommon for people who are stuck in a rut to not even know what day of the week it is. If you find yourself asking “Is it Wednesday or Thursday today?” then it’s possible you’re in a rut.
2 – You generally want the day to be over, and you don’t look forward to much during the day except for going to bed or getting home from work.
3 – You find that even when you do have free time, your energy or motivation is quite low and you don’t even want to do doing anything.
4 – Despite doing lots of things on your to-do list, you don’t feel like anything is actually getting done.
5 – You go through the motions of your life. This means that you do things even if you don’t really want to do them or with little enthusiasm. An example could be going to your friends house because they invited you, but you don’t really want to go.
6 – You feel like you have no purpose in life. This could mean you’re questioning why you’re even here, or what you’re even supposed to be doing.
7 – You don’t necessarily feel unhappy, but you wouldn’t say you were happy. This one can be confusing but I think we can tell the difference between when we feel unhappy and when we just feel blank about things. That’s why being stuck in a rut sucks, because it doesn’t necessarily make you sad all the time (like with depression), but it doesn’t make you feel good either.
8 – Nothing excites you anymore, and you feel quite ambivalent about things (meaning you don’t have any feelings about activities, you’re neutral). It can mean you can’t remember the last time you felt excited about something, or you’re not looking forward to anything in the future. At the moment it’s just you living your life day-to-day without any stimulus.
9 – You live your life on autopilot. This could mean that you still function during the day, but it’s just your brain going through the same habits it’s been doing for years. Some examples could include making lunch for the kids while you’re off in daydream land, brushing your teeth without even realizing or going to work hoping you get in an accident so you don’t have to work.
10 – You keep reminiscing about your happy memories of the past. It’s natural for everyone to do this from time to time, but when you’re doing it to substitute the present, it’s a sign that you’re probably at a place where you don’t want to be.
How can I get out of a rut?
I’m going to be upfront and say there’s no single thing you can do. But the good news is that it’s totally possible to get yourself out of a rut. One of the first things you can do is mix it up. Simple things like driving home a different way from work, or when you get get home do something different from your usual routine (for example go for a walk instead of automatically turning the TV on which you don’t really watch anyway). Anything that is different is good.
if you change nothing, nothing will change
Despite that sentence being very obvious, it is so true. Let’s say it again: if you change nothing, nothing will change. You can’t expect to get out of this rut by doing everything the same, you have to change it up. Think about some ways you can change your routine.
Take more chances
When you’re stuck in a rut it’s an ideal time to open yourself to chance. Whether that be in changing jobs, attending an event or trying a new hobby or activity you’re not quite sure about. You need to mix it up!
You can get out of the rut but it’s up to you to make the changes
Being stuck in a rut might lead to depression if you don’t get yourself out of it, trust me, I know from first hand experience. If you feel you might be falling down the hole of depression take a look at my posts about depression, such as depression warning signs and how it actually feels to be depressed.
You can also find a lot of other good advice, solutions and brain hacks on my self development page.