Do you find yourself feeling stuck in a rut, trapped in the same routines instead of looking forward to the year ahead? Feeling stuck can have a big impact on our mental health; it can be frustrating, but at worst it can lead to a sense of powerlessness, which can give rise to anxiety or depression.
Perhaps you’re bored or unmotivated at work. Or perhaps you desperately want your life to change, but you’re also scared of undermining everything you’ve built so far.If this sounds familiar, the good news is there are ways to break free of your rut – whether you’re stuck in your career, relationships or something else.
Read on to discover key strategies to help you move forward. Everybody is different, so you may want to choose the options you feel drawn to and leave the rest for another time:
Accept that you’re stuck
It might sound strange, but accepting you’re stuck will actually help you move forward. While resisting the feeling can make it stronger, recognising that things need to change is the first step towards taking action. There’s nothing wrong with feeling stuck – everyone feels this way sometimes. So instead of spending your mental energy criticising yourself for being dissatisfied, focus on what you do want to change.
Shake up your routine
It’s hard to move forward if you’re following the same old routine every day. But because we’re creatures of habit, we don’t always realise when our daily life has stagnated. To combat this, include things you enjoy in your daily schedule, and look for ways to give yourself fun and exciting experiences. For example, visiting somewhere new, or starting a course or hobby.
Make self-care a priority
It’s all too easy to take on too many responsibilities at the expense of our own needs. Invest in self-care and you’ll boost your wellbeing and promote an optimistic mindset. Start with small things like adjusting your diet to be more healthy, and getting plenty of sleep. In time these small changes will lead to bigger ones.
Redefine your goals and values
Many people get stuck because the goals they’re working towards clash with who they are and what they really want. If your career (or your lifestyle) doesn’t feel like a good fit, it could be because it doesn’t align with your core values.
Perhaps you’re working to meet the expectations of family or friends, or perhaps you’ve simply outgrown your current life. People change over time, and what mattered to you a few years ago may be different now. It can be helpful to spend some time reflecting on what’s really important to you. Adventure? Security? Creativity? When you know who you are, you can pursue things that truly inspire you.
Get away from it all
If you’re feeling bogged down by the mundane aspects of your life, it can be helpful to distance yourself from it – literally. A change of scene will inspire and challenge you in new ways, which in turn helps you get a new perspective on your normal life. A break doesn’t have to take up lots of time and money either: visiting a new area for a walk can help to clear your head.
Recognise your limiting beliefs
When we’re stuck in a rut it’s easy to become self-critical, and our inner critic only keeps us where we don’t want to be. We can make negative assumptions about ourselves such as ‘I’m not good enough’, or ‘I’ll never be able to do that’. Over time we believe these assumptions as facts even though they’re not true.
But it’s possible to challenge these beliefs. When you catch yourself having a negative thought, question whether it’s based on fact or just an assumption. Next, try replacing your assumptions with something more realistic. For example, changing ‘I’ll never be able to do that’ to ‘I don’t know how to do that yet, but I can learn.’ This will boost your confidence and help you become more open to new opportunities.
Get out of your comfort zone
Its human nature to crave safety and security, which is why trying something new can sometimes feel strange and uncomfortable. But stepping out of your comfort zone is often the only way to move forward. Is there something you’d like to try but you’ve been put off by fear or self-doubt? A new project? A new professional connection? Challenge yourself to brave the discomfort and give it a go. You’ll get better at dealing with change, and discover a new-found confidence, too.
Share how you feel
We all have a tendency to feel alone when we’re suffering, but chances are people you know have experienced something similar. Talking about how you feel can help you pinpoint what needs to change, and how to change it.
If you don’t feel comfortable talking to people you know, you might want to talk in confidence with a counsellor instead. A counsellor will understand your situation from your point of view. He or she won’t judge you or impose advice, but will offer insights to help you get a new perspective. If you’ve been feeling stuck for a long time and it’s having a big impact on your mental health, a counsellor can also help you identify unhealthy patterns that are stopping you from moving forward.
Do you need someone to talk to?
Would you like to talk to someone about feeling stuck? Is there something else troubling you? I’m here to help. I’m a qualified person-centred counsellor and hypnotherapist based in Manchester. I offer face-to-face therapy in the Manchester area, and UK wide online and telephone counselling. If you’d like to speak to a counsellor in confidence, you’re welcome to get in touch with me.
National Counselling Society (NCS). This is the professional association for counsellors. Their website has a national directory of qualified therapists, searchable by area.
The Samaritans – 116-123 is a helpline that’s free and open 24/7. It’s run by trained volunteers.
Catch It is an NHS recommended app designed to boost your wellbeing. It helps you turn negative thoughts into positive ones and to look at problems in a different way.
The national mental health charity Mind has some useful tips for mental health in the workplace and achieving a work life balance.