5 Tips to Get Out of a Rut

Listen on The Extraordinary Podcast Instead

We all have those days when our mental energy and motivation aren’t at their best. You might feel bored, disinterested, or like you’re living the same day over and over again. Days like these are going to happen, so it’s important to have some tools to combat them. I’ve just emerged from my own funk, so here are five tips to get out of a rut to save for your own “rainy day”. 

How I Found Myself in a Rut

Last week I found myself feeling blah. I was irritable and unmotivated, and didn’t want to do much of anything. It could be because the weather changed from sunny to cloudy, or the news, or that I was feeling stir-crazy after spending the past two years working from home. Even though I’m a homebody, I admit that I'm feeling “done” with being home all time. All of these feelings are valid, but I didn’t want to wallow around. I wanted to get my zest for life back! The following tips to get out of a rut helped me get unstuck and back to feeling like myself.  

Get Out of a Rut With These 5 Tips

If you’re in a rut, it’s best to climb out before the mud dries! Try these tips to shake off those blahs.  

1. Take a Time-Out. Prolonged stress is exhausting and harmful to your health, so it’s important to take time-outs when you’re feeling overwhelmed. Try these ideas when you need a breather: 

  • Stop & Breathe. This short time can be done almost anytime or anywhere. Take a few minutes to rest your racing mind, and breathe. It takes practice, but even the “worst” five minutes of resting is beneficial. Sit quietly, and try to let your thoughts go. As your thoughts come up, acknowledge them, and send them on their way. Take slow, deep breaths and let your muscles relax. Allow your mind to quiet itself. Breathe. 
  • If it’s too hard to be still and let the thoughts go, try Tapping or EFT (Emotional Freedom Technique). I talked about this in The Extraordinary Podcast Episode #10: Tools for Feeling Good. EFT is a combination of positive psychology and activating different Meridian points by tapping on them. I like to use this when I’m too anxious or irritated for meditation, because it feels “active”; and it works! 
  • Sometimes, we just need a longer break. Why not take an afternoon, day, or weekend off? It can really shift your perspective and help you come back to your daily life recharged. 

2. Get Intentionally Inspired. We often talk about inspiration as something that hits or finds us on its own. The truth is, we can be intentional about seeking inspiration, which in turn leads to more of it “finding” us. Some ways to seek or cultivate inspiration are:

  • Read something motivational, inspirational, or uplifting. Try reading it out loud and with feeling for an added oomph. 
  • Read or watch something funny and light. Life is serious enough - give yourself permission to laugh! 
  • What has inspired you in the past? Getting outdoors has a way of inspiring and resetting the mind. 
  • Reduce your news consumption. Checking the news every fifteen minutes isn’t good for anyone. 
  • Spend time reminiscing about enjoyable or funny memories, and write them down. It will make you feel better in the moment, and then you can go back and read them another time. 

 3. Get Intentionally Excited. When you first begin a new job, project, or even life stage like parenthood, it’s exciting! As the days go on (and on), however, that enthusiasm can wane. If you’re feeling this way, try and think about what got you excited in the beginning for life/work/etc. It’s very often the outcome that we were excited about, rather than the tasks associated with it. Maybe it could be:

  • Being part of a creative team at work
  • Making a difference in senior's lives through volunteering
  • Having a life partner to grow old with
  • Nurturing your children as they discover the world
  • Feeling strong from going to the gym

Travel back in time and try to rekindle that enthusiasm, even if it’s a small part. And if that doesn’t work, think about the positive benefits of the things you do each day. Does what you do help your family, co-workers, or neighbors? Even the most mundane tasks have some benefit, otherwise we wouldn’t be doing them. Sometimes, we just need to flip the coin to see the other side. 

Another way to find enthusiasm again is to think ahead to something exciting. When I was dreading doing my less-inspiring tasks last weekend, I took a break and did some vacation planning instead. I’m super excited to take my son on some road trips to mountain bike races this summer. It brings back memories of my own races in my twenties, it will be fun to watch him race, and I love being in the mountains. It was just what I needed to keep me going for the day.  

4. Take Baby Steps. The hardest part is usually taking the first steps, so make it easier on yourself! If a project seems so monstrous that you cringe at the thought of all the time and effort it’s going to take, break it down into something more manageable. 

  • Set a time for fifteen minutes, and get down to work. If you want to stop after fifteen minutes, at least you’ve begun.
  • Break down your project or goal into chunks, and then break each chunk further down into manageable tasks. As you check the steps off, you can see the progress you’ve made and feel inspired to keep the momentum going. 

 5. Take Care of Your Body. Sometimes your feelings of fatigue are caused by physical reasons, rather than mental. Be sure you’re getting enough rest, eating nourishing food, drinking enough water, and moving your body. 

I haven’t been sleeping well lately (thanks, peri-menopause), and had been starting each day tired. Or, if I managed to sleep in, it meant I didn’t have time for my morning routine that set my day up for success. When you’re tired, it seems like everything gets worse; you make poor food choices, are too beat to exercise, and it just gets compounded. 

I’d had enough of that, so on the weekend I allowed myself to sleep. (I've been trying things to help me sleep better, and some of them are working!) I got some exercise (which also helps me sleep better), and planned out the week’s meals. This way, I started the week off rested and with a plan. 

Bonus Tips

Remember to reward  yourself from time to time, and be gentle with yourself. You deserve time off, too. If something is sucking the joy from your life, see if you can change it or delegate a task to someone else. And remember, it’s normal and okay to ask for help. If you’re feeling down in the dumps, you can make the choice to climb out if you want to.* 

Finally, if you’re feeling stuck but are ready to move forward with focus and clarity, I’d be honored to support you. You can contact me through email, social media, or make an appointment for free, no-pressure consultation to see if my coaching program would be a good fit for you.


*Disclaimer: I recognize that depression and anxiety are serious conditions that are not a choice. If you’re struggling and are having a hard time bouncing back, please seek medical help. Whether you’re “in a rut” or suffering from something more serious, there is no shame in getting the help you need. 

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