13 Simple Ways To Break Yourself Out Of A Rut

There is a feeling that all humans get every now and then that I like to call the "blah." You know right away when the "blah" has struck. It's that feeling when your alarm clock goes off, stirring you into consciousness, and you become aware that you feel inexplicably dead inside. It's not that anything in particular is wrong or bad. It's just that you are utterly uninspired, and in the five seconds you are impressively able to convince yourself that getting up is pointless and everyone is terrible and the walk to the coffee pot is too far away for moving your limbs to be worth it.

Chances are, if you live in a wintry place, you will be experiencing the "blah" more often, especially if you suffer from Seasonal Affective Disorder (which is definitely way more than just "blah" but the two can often go hand-in-hand). But this kind of feeling can sneak up on you any time of the year. Maybe you feel like you aren't making progress in a particular facet of your life, or there is a problem you haven't yet resolved, and you feel so knocked down by it that you have no desire to get back up right away even though every piece of advice you've ever heard is some variation of "get back in the game, slugger." I think the best way to ease yourself out of a rut is one step at a time, starting with manageable tasks before working our way up to the big hurdles:

Do your laundry

Something about the smell of clean laundry just makes you feel like you have conquered adulthood, and that there is some order in an otherwise unpredictable world. There is also something very soothing about the repetition of folding your clothes and putting them away. It gives you a real sense that you've done something today, even if it doesn't take up that much time or really change anything big about your life.

Make something with your hands

Whether it be old LEGOS or Play-Doh or watercolors, just make something that isn't going anywhere, that doesn't have to be anything. When you're making something just for the sake of making it, you have the full freedom to use your imagination and won't feel any pressure to meet a certain standard like you might in the every day world.

Make a list

Any kind of list. It can be as simple as your grocery list or at ambitious as your five-year life plan, but the simple act of putting something on paper will make everything feel that much more manageable.

Listen to new music

New music will conjure up new ideas and new inspirations. Listen to that friend who recommended a band to you a while back, or find a playlist that suits your mood, and your brain will start revving in no time.

Call an old friend

Touching base with someone you've known forever can change everything. Going back to your roots will make you feel a lot less lost in the now, and who knows? Maybe your friend is in a rut too, and then the two of you can commiserate.

Smile at strangers

I have two reasons for suggesting this: First, studies show that if you make your face smile, you genuinely start to feel better. The other reason is that every now and then you watch a stranger's entire face light up at your unexpected smile and there is something ridiculously magical about it.

Write in your journal

Sometimes it is impossible to pinpoint what is bothering you by listening to the voice in your head, but once you get a pen and a piece of paper, it all spills out. Even if you don't keep a regular journal, it's worth it even to type what you're feeling into a word document, to try and make sense of how exactly you can fix it.

Drive to the bookstore

The bookstore does not judge you. It does not care if your hair is a mess or your sweater is on backwards. And books are basically just like friends who don't demand you make conversation with them or laugh at their jokes. It is a nice way of not feeling alone even if you still kind of want to be alone.

Wear something from the back of your closet

In the interest of jazzing up your life without over-stretching yourself, go find that pair of cowboy boots or big statement coat you hardly ever wear and put it on. You bought these clothes in the first place because you saw some reflection of yourself or the person you wanted to be in them, so go ahead and be that person for a little while, even if you don't plan on going anywhere today.

Go on a long walk or run on a route you've never tried before

Moving your body is the most surefire way to clear your head, and it is always refreshing to get a new perspective.

Go people-watching

People are fascinating, but we're usually way too wrapped up in our daily stressors to notice the strangers who pass by. Take time to actually observe the people around you. Go pick a bench at the park during lunch and listen to conversations around you and take in people's little ticks.

Treat yo self

Go buy something small for yourself: a fancy coffee, or a book, or even a new pair of socks. Even focusing on a little thing can turn your whole day around.

Anonymously do something nice for someone

We all have ruts every now and then, and by doing something nice for someone you might be able to pull them out of theirs and feel like you've made a difference enough to pull yourself out of yours. Write someone a letter about how great they are, or put a $5 gift card under someone's windshield wiper, or put up a happy sign on a lamppost on a busy street that will make people smile when they read it. It takes so little effort to brighten up someone else's day.

Images: Christopher Michel/Flickr; Wifflegiff(11)