IT’S been like this for quite a while now.
You seem to be floating in limbo. You’re not really sad but not happy either. You feel restless but at the same time too tired to do anything except the usual routines. You start questioning what all of this is for. And though you want to be upbeat and positive, one word seems to summarize you right now: “meh”.
You may be stuck in a rut.
Psychology instructor, researcher, and speaker Tania Luna spoke of the rut diagnosis in her article with psychologytoday.com with the following checklist:
1. Day to day, you don't look forward to much (other than maybe sleeping or just getting through whatever you're doing).
2. You'd like to get your creative juices flowing, but it seems someone left an empty juice bottle in the fridge.
3. Even though you keep checking things off your to do list, it doesn't feel like you are getting much done.
4. Your days all blur together, and it's not weird to look up blinking and ask, "Is this Tuesday or Thursday?"
5. By the time you get "free time" you are too tired to do something interesting with it or are just plain unmotivated.
6. If you answered "How are you?" genuinely, you'd say something like, "Meh."
7. You fantasize about getting away (and not just away on vacation).
8. You'd like to add something new to your life, but you're sure that you'll never have enough time and/or energy for it.
9. You're getting sick of hearing yourself complain about feeling stressed, tired, and unfulfilled.
10. and the Number One rut symptom: Even though you think you'd be happier if you made a change, it's more comforting to stay the same and mope about it.
Human beings are programmed to persist and rise above challenges as part of our survival instinct.
But at times, due to physical limitations, past experiences (especially negative experiences or trauma), or environmental factors like family or culture, we need to dig extra deep to get through the fears and unproductive mindset and find some motivation again.
For the times like you’re caught in The Groundhog day movie, like every day is the same, and you can’t seem to find meaning with what you’re doing, here are seven ways you can try to pull yourself out of the doldrums according to forbes.com’s Frances Bridges:
1. Acknowledge the Problem
You cannot get out of a rut if you don't acknowledge you're in one. It's not normal for you to be unhappy and not performing well. Forgive yourself for not noticing sooner, for letting yourself go this long without addressing it. The important thing is you're addressing it now.
2. Break Things Down Into Steps
If you've fallen behind in work, working out, keeping in touch with family or friends, etc., make a list, break things down into steps and check things off one by one. If you think of everything you need to do you can easily get overwhelmed, so don't get overwhelmed, write everything down and get to work, chipping away one task at a time.
3. Done Is Better Than Perfect
If you get hung up on perfection, you will never finish a project and you will never feel good about your work, and neither one of things is productive for you or your work. Sometimes, when you've worked and worked and worked, it's 6 p.m. and it's time to turn it in. It won't get any better. All you can do is try your best, and take solace in the fact that good or bad, it is your best effort, and there will be another day and another project for you to do better.
4. Get Some Fresh Air
Nothing will help rejuvenate your energy than a quick walk around the block to get some sun and fresh air, maybe grab a coffee or tea if so inclined. It will help you focus, and help open any mental roadblocks you may have hit staring at a screen.
5. Get Some Exercise
Feeling stressed or anxious, and you're not able to focus? If you can, perhaps set work aside and go for a run, or to a yoga class, something to get your blood flowing and a way to realize that stress and anxiety in a healthy way. It will help manage your emotions, and will also help increase your focus and energy.
6. Talk to Someone
If you're struggling with work, discuss your issues with a trusted colleague or mentor. If you have a personal struggle, talk to a friend or family member, or seek professional help. You don't have to go through things alone, if you reach out, people are ready and willing to help you. You're not the only one who has ever been through difficult times, so reach out, and do not be ashamed.
7. Keep Moving Forward
A great quote that is often attributed to Winston Churchill, (though sources have had trouble verifying it) summarizes this well, "If you're going through hell, keep going." So much of success isn't built on brilliance, it's mostly people who just refuse to give up. If you stick with it, and keep doing the work, you will work yourself out of this rut and get back on track.