Have you ever felt like you were living the same day over and over again as if your life is just a continuous loop? Or that you’re living in your own version of the movie “Groundhog Day”? Believe it or not, this is a rather common feeling and one that is usually referred to as being in a “rut” or simply, feeling stuck. This can be in relation to your career, in your relationship, or just life in general. While many people may have felt this way in some point in their life, it may have been hard to recognize the signs in that moment. Some such signs include:

  • Every day feels the similar and the days tend to blur together.
  • You’re going through the motions or feeling as if on “autopilot”
  • You feel unmotivated to do anything or lack inspiration
  • Starting a task, but not having the ability to complete it
  • Having a sense of unfulfillment or feeling as if life is boring

These are some signs that people may experience when feeling “stuck”, although not everyone will experience all of them and some may experience something completely different. It is also very important to note that all of these signs can also present as something more serious, such as major depressive disorder (MDD). If you are experiencing such signs as listed above, as well as symptoms of sadness, irritability, sleep disturbances, trouble concentrating, or weight loss/gain, please contact a mental health professional.

If you feel as if you’re in a rut or feeling stuck in life right now, here are a few steps/ideas to help you get out of it:

1. Identify why or the “source” of the rut. It could be related to your health, career, home life, relationship(s), hobbies (or lack thereof), education, and more. No matter what the reason is, it is important to find out the cause(s) of your rut, so you can help better address it and also identify what you truly want. Ways to do this include creating a vision board or, if you aren’t a visual person, writing down a list of things you want instead.  

2. Change up your routine. For a lot of people, routine is a good thing and some routines may be unavoidable (i.e. getting up at a certain time, dropping kids off at school, etc.). However, if you find yourself doing the exact same thing every day or eating the same meal(s), you may want to switch it up a bit! Try something new, whether it be a new recipe, a new hobby, a new show, or even listening to new music/podcast on the way to work. It doesn’t have to be grand or a complete transformation to your existing routine, as even the smallest change can help make a difference.

3. Go outdoors! When I feel bored or need a boost in mood, I put a podcast on and take a walk outside. The outdoors and being in nature have been found to have a positive impact on the brain, such as lowered stress and increased well-being, as well as enhancing creativity. Not only are there benefits to being outdoors, but a change of scenery can also help break up a possibly monotonous routine. For example, if you work from home, try changing it up and work from a café or library instead.

4. Set (smaller) goals. At the beginning of every year, I use to set New Year’s resolutions. Which in itself was fine, but I would set goals that would be vague and too big to accomplish in the strict deadlines I gave myself. Instead, I’ve started creating smaller goals to accomplish within a shorter time period. For example, one of my goals was to start working out 5x a week. While this may seem fairly easy, as someone who rarely works out to begin with, it soon became overwhelming and then I stopped altogether. Instead, I started small and set a goal of walking outside for at least 15-20 minutes everyday for a month and going from there.

5. Create accountability. Sometimes it is easier to get out of a rut if you know you aren’t doing it alone. This could be in the form of a partner, friend, family member, or therapist. No matter who it is, this person can help keep you accountable in any goals you may have or accompany you, whether it be on a walk, to try a new hobby or even travel somewhere different.

Being in a rut can be frustrating and discouraging, but it is possible to get out of it! Start by identifying the cause(s) of the rut, set smaller goals, find someone to help keep you accountable and don’t forget to take care of yourself!

Staff Blogger: Mollie Clupper

Mollie Clupper works for MHA as a Communications and Support Specialist. Using her own experiences, she wants to help bring awareness and end the stigma surrounding mental health. In her spare time, she enjoys hiking, drinking coffee, and spending time with loved ones.