I’m not sure weather it’s burnout, or just effects of a lockdown, but i have been in a rut for the past month or so. first few weeks of January were fine, i didn’t put too much pressure on myself to stick to insane habits, just a few general goals for the year. however the last 2 weeks of January it went downhill. Bingeing multiple different series, Bridgerton and Winx ( both of which were really good) and spending hours just watching Youtube with auto-play taking me from video to video, and not realising that 3 hours of my day had been spent staring at a screen. I do allow myself time for these things, I watch Youtube most evenings before i sleep, but for me watching lots of Netflix is a sign i am in a rut, because for me, it is never just one episode with Netflix, it’s a whole series in a few days or nothing. I feel like this is normal, but a combination of that, the fact i was avoiding college work completely, i stopped doing yoga for a few days and neglected my habits, has put me in a complete rut. I enjoy the feeling of doing things, being productive, it gives me a purpose and so i feel quite down at the moment because of this rut. So i decided to do something about it and leave this burnout/rut in January. I also think alot of people will be feeling this towards the end of January/ start of February, as for some people January is so crammed with trying to better themselves, start new habits, eat healthy, no drinking ( I could go on) , that when February comes around they are burnt out and ready to sink down into a rut. This post isn’t here to make you super productive and thriving at your habits again, it’s just simply to help get you out of the depressive hole and back to normal- you can decide where to take it from there. When you are in a rut different things will help everyone but, it could help to have a list of things to try and follow to help get you started and get you feeling back to normal.
First things first- why are you in this rut? What type of rut is this? Is this a rut with your school work, a rut with routine, a rut with your friendships? If you can figure out where this rut is stemming from then you can cater these activities to that area of your life specifically, but sometimes you are just experiencing a general rut, and that’s normal too. Whatever your answer to these questions were, try out these steps below and feel the difference!
You need something to shock you into getting out of this rut, and for that I suggest getting up early. Set your alarm a couple hours earlier than usual, and force yourself to get up, however hard it may be. If I’m making myself get up early I will charge my phone across the room so I have to get out of bed to stop the alarm, and I find drinking a whole glass of water straight away gets me going. Doing something completely out of my routine to shock me helps me start working my way out of the rut, as it instantly sets me apart from the monotonous depressive routine I often go through when in a rut.
To set yourself up for the previous tip you can write down a clear morning routine and evening routine. I find it easier to write down the order and specific activities I am going to do as opposed to a tight timed schedule, as especially in the evening I find it hard to stick to timings as I’m ready to start the evening routine at different times each night. If you aren’t much of a routine person, don’t worry, still do this step, because you don’t have to follow it forever, just for a few days until you are back on track.
Next is one of my favorite steps, one I actually look forward to: my master to do list! This isn’t just a normal to do list, it has different sections covering all areas of life, so even the tiniest of tasks are included on it. I’ve made my own printable master to do list to help you get on top of your life again and maxamize your productivity! To get your free copy emailed to you just put your email in below and I’ll send it over to you! The different sections help me get all possible tasks down on paper, and things I would not normally remember, like changing my bed sheets or researching something. This way, with everything I possibly need to get done written infront of me, I can start ticking off all the small, low effort tasks, and when you start ticking off all the little things, you’ll gain a feeling of accomplishment and like you’ve actually done something with your day. Once you feel like you’ve got some stuff done, you’ll feel more productive and ready to get on with the rest of your tasks, and feel more positive emotions as opposed to negative.
After this I like to set myself off with some more planning: meal planning. I do not meal plan in my general life, it just doesn’t excite me and I never really need to, but like I talked about with the routines, having a solid plan to follow for the next few days can encourage you to become energised, and almost trick yourself into thinking you are being productive, even if you are just doing the basic things you need to do, because following ( and sticking!) to a plan/routine can leave you feeling accomplished and happy. The meal planning doesn’t have to be extensive, I just mean plan out the general things you plan to eat, perhaps pre-preparing snacks or meal prepping for a few days ahead. The aim is just to feel like you’ve stuck to a plan and reduce decision fatigue.
Once you’ve laid out all the possible to do’s there are in your Master to do list, it is time to start doing them. When I am trying to get out of a rut, I find it so hard to actually get things done. Even if I sit down and start, I can find myself browsing different tabs and Pinterest. To get your tasks done you can try using a specific order, easiest to hardest to the rest. The easiest task to get you into the flow of it, the hardest task to get it out the way, and then the medium ones that will feel low concentration and effort compared to the hardest one. I tried out this technique today and it made me feel like I was getting back on track and actually getting stuff done, stuff that I had put off due to how unmotivated and stuck I’ve been feeling lately.
For me, I know I am in a rut when my screentime increases, when I redownload tiktok, only to spend hours and hours mindlessly scrolling. Like I mentioned earlier, bingeing netflix is another huge sign for me. The common theme here is technology. When I am in a rut I turn to my phone and laptop to keep me ‘entertained’ and give me something to do, as my energy is too low for anything else. I am sure many of you are the same. I am also sure that this habit is actually what keeps us in a rut. It is hard to make yourself feel energised, normal, and happy when you are doing nothing but scrolling on your phone, it’s too addicting to stop. Why would you get up and do something hard, something you don’t really want to do, when you could sink deeper into the never ending hole of the for you page on tiktok. This is why for a few days you need to delete social media. I would reccommend ones like TikTok and instagram that are alot easier to endlessly scroll on. It’s only for a few days and you don’t have to cut off communication with people, you just have to take away the ability to waste hours on your phone, so eventually, your tasks will seem appealing to cure bordem. It is easier than it seems, you won’t miss anything- it’s just for a few days until you feel refreshed and reset.
Whilst you have gained back your free time from social media/ netflix/ whatever your go to ‘rut’ habit is, you may as well do something fun, something you wouldn’t usually make time for. For me I tried painting. I am NO artist, I cannot draw and I cannot paint, and I’m ok with that. But there was something so fun about doing something new to me, just sitting down and painting random patterns and things. Sounds cheesy and cringe but it genuinely was the highlight of my day ( lockdown things :/) and uplifted me massively as it was so much fun. Other things I’d suggest for this step would be journaling, drawing, dancing, sketching, clay and origami! Just have some fun, cheer yourself up, it can make all the difference during a depressive episode or rut.
You knew this one was coming but I’m going to say it anyway: go on a walk! You probably rolled your eyes at how obvious this one was but you’ve got to trust me. Scheduling an everyday walk for even a week can make a huge difference in you getting your life back on track, it can refresh you, give you time to think, give you time to listen to a podcast you don’t normally have time for, and just separate you from the rest of your life for an hour or so. Even a 15 minute one counts! For the next week try making time for a little walk everyday and you will see a difference. Even if you do nothing else with your day, if you’ve been on a walk you can look back at the day and feel like you did at least 1 important thing. It’s also important for mental health and I know it is such a cliche but, it is a cliche for a reason! Give yourself that time off your phone and just to move your body and get some fresh air, it’s essential to getting your life out of this rut, and for protecting your mental health during this lockdown!
So that is how to get out of a rut. I know when you’re in the rut it can be hard to convice yourself to do anything, but trust me, this works. I have been following these steps the past few days and I feel so better already. Having specific steps lined out for me to follow has made all the difference in making me feel normal again. This won’t make you super productive, I’m not claiming that, but it will make you feel normal again if you follow it. I understand how shit feeling stuck can be, but you’ve got to decide to do something about it and make a change in your days until you feel better again.
Hope this was helpful see you on Monday for a book related post- I’ve got an exciting tag planned!