Articles - 5th August 2019

5 Tips For When You’re Stuck In A Rut

Words by Sam Whitaker

We’ve all been there. You wake up in the morning and just feel generally flat. The days merge into one and even the simplest tasks are an effort.

You mindlessly go through the motions. Bored, tired and uninspired with no motivation, direction or enthusiasm for life. 

That’s exactly how I felt a year ago. 


From stuck to unstuck

It’s not always obvious when things shift from good to not-so-good, but for me it was pretty clear. 

My husband’s job moved us from Hong Kong, where we’d lived for 6 years, to an area in the UK we hadn’t spent time in before. 

Although I felt sad for what we were leaving behind (great friends, sunny weather, a successful freelance yoga business I’d built from scratch), I was also excited about building a life back in the UK. 

Nevertheless, once we’d found a place to live and ‘real life’ started, the days started to feel very long and empty. 

I’d wake up full of good intentions, but after a lot of reaching out and not much getting back, I started to lose my enthusiasm. My days revolved around seemingly menial tasks and my motivation fizzled out. 

Fast-forward to today and it couldn’t be more different. I’m settled in the area with regular classes, good friends and wonderful students. 

This time last year I would struggle to look past the day without a sense of dread. Today I am excited about what’s to come.

Although the change didn’t happen overnight, there are 5 key things that helped change my mindset and situation around:


Why are you stuck?

What’s causing you to feel how you feel? 

Is it your job? Your relationship? Your health? A creative dry-spell?

Take some time to think about what is causing you to feel the way you do. 

It was only by doing this I could start to do something about it. Yes, my move was the trigger, but why had something I’d been excited about become something I resented?

Try not to judge or place blame on yourself for how you feel. I used to berate myself with thoughts like “Who am I to feel so dissatisfied when I’m so lucky with what I have?” 

If that’s you, stop right now! It’s counterproductive and your rut will get even bigger. 

Acknowledge and accept that you feel how you feel. Your feelings are perfectly valid and relative to you and your experience. You don’t need to justify or compare them to anyone else.

Our feelings and reactions are the internal signposts we need to re-direct us from the not-so-good to the potentially bloody-brilliant. Recognise them, pay attention to them. Don’t bury them down or ignore them. 

You’re feeling how you feel for a reason. It’s time to work out what that is and do something about it.


Get curious

Nothing will change if you just keep doing what you’re doing.

No matter how much you believe your approach is right, it clearly isn’t or you wouldn’t be feeling how you do. It sounds harsh, I know, but true. 

Someone once asked me, “What did you use to love doing when you were younger that you no longer do?” Interesting question, hey? 

For me, it was reading fiction, going for walks and watching films – that and eating copious amounts of Starmix (if you know, you know).

So, I paused what I’d been doing and joined the library, got outside when the weather was good and visited the cinema when it wasn’t. 

I gave my mind some much-needed space to breathe and enjoyed some simple pleasures in life. 

What about you? What did you use to love that still ignites your curiosity? 

Think of a few things and try them. Your energy will start to shift, new thought patterns will start to form and you’re well on your way to turning things around.


Get crafty 

When I felt stuck I literally had no inspiration, creativity or spark. 

Creating a vision board was something that helped me get excited about the future and clear on what I wanted when I couldn’t see a way ahead.

I gathered old magazines from family and friends, picked up free magazines in local shops and put aside some time to get crafty. 

There are so many ways to approach vision boarding, however, I just cut out colours, words, pictures or phrases that jumped out at me. 

Along with the satisfaction that comes from creating something from nothing, vision-boarding helped me in two ways, it:

  • Opened my eyes: for months I had been obsessing over one area of my life. My perspective had become so narrow I’d neglected other areas that gave me so much happiness. Areas I could now start to pour my energy into
  • Renewed my hope: creating a visual representation of the things I wanted in my life reminded me why I started in the first place. With that came the confidence and self-belief that things would change. 

I have my vision board in a place where I can see it every morning. A constant reminder whenever I feel that stagnation bubble up again.


Flip your perspective

Ok, now this is a little cliché coming from a yoga instructor, but try flipping your perspective by (literally) turning upside down!

I’m not saying you need to learn how to balance on your head – unless you want to of course. Inversions can be as simple as lying on your bed with your legs up the wall.

The way we see the world is shaped by our experiences, viewpoints and opinions, and when our hands or head become our feet, we literally see things from a different angle. 

It opens our minds to the fact there isn’t just one way of looking at things. Give it a go and see what happens!


Be kind to yourself

Last, but definitely not least, go easy on yourself. 

When we feel directionless it’s easy to be overly critical and harsh to ourselves. 

Remind yourself daily you’re doing your best. When that inner critic pipes up, ask yourself, “Would I say these words to my best friend?” Most likely the answer is no, so why say them to yourself? 

Have you been sleeping enough? Eating well? Connecting with people that make you feel good? Moving your body?

If something’s lacking, now is the time to address it. Your body is your home. When you don’t treat it well, even the simplest daily tasks can start to overwhelm. 

Starting today, look for ways you can treat yourself a little better. Prioritising your mental and physical health will ensure you have the energy, mental clarity and self-belief needed to take you where you want to go.


Trust the process

If you’re reading this feeling stuck, I hope these tips have helped shift something in you. 

You don’t have to do them all (except maybe the first one which really is crucial in helping you understand why you feel as you do), so perhaps start with just one and see how it goes.

Best of luck. Believe in yourself. Trust that although you may feel rubbish right now, this low point is needed to re-direct you to something bigger, better and even brighter than before.


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