Everybody experiences times in their lives where things aren’t going too well and negative emotions can get the better of us.
Stress from work, family problems and financial difficulties can chip away at us and leave us feeling stuck in a rut. Left unchecked these feelings can cause us to experience longer term mental health issues and can also impact on our physical wellbeing.
For this reason it is very important to quickly establish that things aren’t quite right and to take some corrective action. Like any mental or physical health problem, early diagnosis is an important part of prevention and cure.
When you become more aware of the warning signs and recognise patterns it may even be possible to avoid getting sucked into the rut in the first place.
If you do find that you are struggling though, there are some simple steps that we can all take to pull us through the difficult period, and out of the rut.
Below we list 8 simple steps to help.
1. Acknowledge The Problem
Oftentimes it is hard to get out of a rut because we don’t acknowledge that we’re in one in the first place. Problems can quietly creep up on us and there isn’t always a clear line separating the good times from the bad.
If you find yourself continually feeling low for no reason, sleeping less (or more) and struggling for energy then it could be time to have a look at your circumstances a bit more closely.
We all have these issues at times but if they become more intense and prolonged and you find yourself struggling more than usual then there could be some underlying issues to address. The first step is to getting out of a rut is to acknowledge a problem and look for potential causes. Only then can you hope to find a way out.
2. Be Honest
Being stuck in a rut for many, is akin to being locked in a mental prison of our own making. What do I mean by this? – By interpreting information and processing it in a way that keeps us from doing the things we need to, we can actually create problems for ourselves.
An example of this would be allowing a stressful situation to paralyse us, instead of taking the required action to alleviate the problem. By looking at the triggers we can reverse engineer a solution but this requires a degree of honesty. Are you contributing to the problem? Are you making excuses instead of looking for solutions?
It can sometimes be a difficult thing to admit to, but it is vital to have a good honest look to see what is causing the block and whether a change in attitude or behaviour will help us to get out of the rut.
3. Chunk It Up
After falling into a rut we can find ourselves falling behind with work, exercise and other day-to-day tasks. This can leave us feeling more overwhelmed and exacerbate the problem. The key here is to break tasks down into bite sized pieces. By doing this we make them appear more manageable and relieve pressure.
How do you eat an elephant? – One bite at a time.
Pick one thing from your list and get it completed. Keep chipping away and as you complete more and more the fog will lift and normal service will be resumed.
4. Get Things Done
Sometimes you just have to get things done. We can all over think and find excuses to procrastinate at times but in the end – only action produces results. Quite often the act of doing can take ourselves away from our thoughts and out of the rut that we find ourselves in. Be productive and you will feel like being productive.
Get moving, get things done. Action is the key!
When you are stuck in a rut, exercise may be the last thing on your mind. This however is a mistake. Exercise not only gives us energy and helps with sleep , it can also help us to manage stress and anxiety. Find some time before or after work to exercise for a boost in feel good hormones. It may be a struggle initially, but if you can get it done you will feel the benefits in mood and focus.
Exercise should be a regular feature in all our lives but is often the first thing to disappear when we hit a mental roadblock. By resisting this urge we can keep the funk at bay! If you’ve fallen out of the habit of exercising then start it up again. The sooner the better!
6. A Problem Shared
We’ve all heard the saying – “A problem shared is a problem halved”, but studies would seem to back this up. Researchers in California proved that sharing feelings really is the best way to deal with stress. Better still if the person you are sharing with is having similar problems.
Talk through how you are feeling and you may lighten the load a little. Other people have experienced and are experiencing similar feelings that you are now, so you don’t have to feel alone. There are people out there who will be more than willing to help – but you have to reach out to them first!
7. The Past Is The Past
“I’ve failed over and over and over again in my life and that is why I succeed” – Michael Jordan
Don’t allow your past or present situation to hold you back. Failure is a part of life but by focusing on the negative, we steal from the present. If you find yourself dwelling then it may be time to create a more compelling future. One that will pull you through the difficult times.
Take a subjective view of your current situation. Acknowledge the good and bad and vow to make the future better. By setting exciting goals we can reduce the impact of problems along the way. A compelling future will always be stronger that the day-to-day problems we experience and will help us to navigate through the tough times.
Don’t beat yourself up and acknowledge that you have the power to change your current circumstances for the better.
8. Keep Going
Tony Robbins says – “Success is on the other side of frustration”. You may be closer to a breakthrough than you realise. Quite often a rut appears through a perceived lack of progress. In Brazilian Jiu Jitsu this is very common and is amusingly given the name – ‘blue-belt-itus”. Many practitioners of the art, train hard, receive their Blue Belt before reaching a perceived plateau and then simply drop out.
The key though is to keep going – to keep turning up. Work through the plateaus and ruts in life.
You never know, success may be just on the other side!