5 Signs You’re Stuck in a Rut
Ruts are the kind of thing that tends to just creep up on you without much warning. As it can take a while for a rut to set in, you may well not notice it happening until a few of the symptoms start to manifest. Generally, emotional discomfort is the biggest indicator that you’ve become stuck in a rut; I’m not talking about the occasional low mood — what you need to watch for is a consistent lack of mental energy and a tendency to view your life through a negative filter.
Most people who become stuck in a rut can’t pinpoint exactly when or how it happened, which may be why it’s hard to recognize. Several less-than-satisfying aspects of your life may have amalgamated, making the whole picture seem a little depressing. The thing is that even when you do recognize a rut, the rut can feel so familiar that it seems more comfortable to languish in it than to pull yourself out of it. How do you know when you’re stuck in a rut?
1. Your mood is barely better than neutral
Where you once bounced out of bed looking forward to the day ahead, you now cringe at the alarm clock and always seem to need ‘just another hour.’ Naturally spritely moods based on a general appreciation of your life now seem glaringly absent. That’s not to say that you’re depressed, or even in a particularly bad mood each day. It’s just that your days seem to have lost their sparkle somehow, and you’re simply not in gratitude mode anymore.
It doesn’t occur to you to count your blessings, probably because you have forgotten about them. You’ve got that ‘Groundhog Day’ feeling more or less every day, and not much about life excites you any more. As a result your mood rarely lifts above ‘neutral’. You’re stagnating, and it doesn’t feel good.
2. Your creativity went down the drain
You used to free-flow with ideas… synapses firing like fireworks, productivity high. Now you can barely be bothered to choose a new kind of tea for your kitchen cupboard. You may not notice this lack of creativity unless you’re usually a particularly ‘right-brained’ type of person, or somebody whose job depends on creative output.
Creativity doesn’t only apply to the realm of artistic talents. It also applies to problem-solving and general expression. When you’re stuck in a rut, you tend to become somewhat apathetic, and apathy is a killer of creativity. You simply can’t be bothered to think about cooking a delicious but elaborate meal, or about the best ways of doing things, never mind indulging your innate artistic expression. On the occasions when you do try to ‘gee yourself up’, you find no inspiration there anyway, like a variation of writer’s block.
3. The grass always seems greener
Everything else seems ‘better than this’ and you find yourself daydreaming about all kinds of other possibilities; in other words, a different life. But you rarely go further than the idle speculation phase. The next thing you know, you’ve been distracted by something and are back to feeling generally despondent. The course doesn’t get booked… the trip never happens. That’s because you’ve become so familiar with your rut that it’s like an old pair of slippers.
You may love the idea of disappearing off to the Bahamas to get away from this ‘boring life’ of yours, but you lack the will to do anything about it. You’ll come up with any number of excuses for why you can’t fulfill your daydream, but the truth is… you’re stuck in a rut.
5. You’ve got no motivation
It would be easy to think that being stuck in a rut would in itself be motivation for change; it is indeed fuel for daydreams but tends to be accompanied by a lack of motivation. The next thing you know, inertia has set in. You’re turning down invites you’d to have jumped at a few months ago. Your zest for life and inspiration has gone and everything seems like a chore. You can’t even be bothered to iron your work shirt, work out like you used to, or choose a nice outfit for that important meeting, and procrastination has become familiar.
You don’t feel good about this despondency, so as a result you become indecisive, trying to talk yourself into things you know you should be doing but can’t bring yourself to care about. You’re now living in a kind of limbo state in which you endlessly toy with the idea of doing things; things that never materialize because you can’t muster up the motivation or energy. So the question is…
How are you going to get out of it?
They’re usually comes a time when a rut becomes unbearable. The boredom gets too much and you miss the feeling of excitement and appreciation for life. ‘Groundhog Day’ becomes exasperating and you long for the creative spark to return. You can’t eat baked beans for one more day on the trot, you’re losing friends through lack of attention and you know you’re on a slippery slope toward depression if you don’t make some changes. If that’s where you are… what are you going to do?
Congratulations on your honesty: you’re officially in a rut. First, assess what’s leaving you cold about your life. Is it the lack of opportunity for promotion at work? Does your relationship simply not do it for you anymore? Have you let your hobbies fall by the wayside? It might be time to make some changes to your diet, or actually start using that expensive gym membership you’re coughing-up hard-earned funds for each month. If you’re genuinely tired, you might need a kick in the form of some kind of nootropic, or you might need to boost your metabolism with a daily morning walk in nature to reset the gratitude factor. Only you know what you need to do, and you’re the only one who can do it. Good luck!
This post was written by Caroline Knight, a Freelance Writer based in the UK. Caroline previously worked in nutrition and now runs healing retreats in Europe, alongside fulfilling her love of writing about everything from business to philosophy and transformation of consciousness.
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