Stuck In A Rut? 7 Suggestions To Help Get You Out

person reading book on white bathtub
Photo by cottonbro on

Sometimes, the very idea of doing “the same thing again” is enough to make us go mad. And I’m not talking “a little mad;” I’m talking stark-raving, “I’ve had enough” and “I don’t ever want to do this again” kind of mad. Statements like, “If I make one more meatball” or “If I fold one more pair of socks” might turn us into Jane, Charlotte Perkins Gilman’s main character, in “The Yellow Wallpaper.” Here’s the thing, people: we can’t get away from those mundane, dreary, monotonous, mind-numbing tasks, so we have to turn to other things to give us a lift, and bring us back to life. Here are 7 of my favorite suggestions to help get you out of that sort of tiresome rut.

  1. Try something new. It’s so cliché, I know, but isn’t this what our parents taught us? If you’re tired of something, go try something new. Recently, one of my friends organized a night out at a local restaurant where we painted and drank wine and had social time. It’s called “Wine & Canvas” and it’s not something we would typically do; however, it was just what we wanted to do, and we all said we’d do it again, even though none of us is Picasso.
  2. Do something all by yourself—yes—without anyone tagging along. Yesterday, my son went to our golf club and practiced hitting from the tees and also worked on his chipping. My husband was sick, and so he went all by himself. He’s only 14. When I went to pick him up, I found him in the club restaurant sitting at a table alone enjoying lunch while he watched the Redskins game. I was so proud of him for not being afraid to do something by himself; he feels quite at home at the club. In fact, he feels comfortable enough to do what he did without batting an eye. I love his sense of independence. I remember a couple of times when I wanted to see a film and no one wanted to go with me. I went by myself. It’s sort of liberating to walk into the theatre and know it’s you, your Coke, your bucket of popcorn, and your movie. Doing something by yourself doesn’t make you a loser; it shows you are confident enough to not give a rip that you’re doing it alone.
  3. Color. Yes, you heard me…color. How long has it been since you sat at a table with a piece of paper, picked up a 16-pack of Crayola crayons, and just colored (and not with your kids). The little things we take for granted as children—all the play time, the creativity, the ingenuity that was so valued—can get lost when we become adults unless you MAKE TIME for it. If coloring doesn’t float your boat, paint, draw, write a poem, craft a love letter, or build a model airplane or a tree house. Do something that allows you to remind yourself that deep within you, there was a hint of something genius (or at least mildly genius).
  4. Float away in a bubble bath. Even today, I still use Calgon’s old advertising slogan: Calgon—take me away. Allow yourself to relax in the bathtub. Bring a book or magazine in there with you, some candles, some classical or spa music, and just float away for a half an hour or so. We tend to shower under time constraints: we have to get to work, we have to run to school, we have to attend an event. A bath is a much more leisurely activity that requires you to actually STOP and SIT and SOAK. And before you plunge into this idea, go to your nearest drugstore and buy yourself some sumptuous bath bubbles, bath salts, or bath liquid. The scents are alluring and you can decompress luxuriously.
  5. Take time to be a GOOD friend. Now is not the time for me to tell my woes of disappointing friendships, but when I moved last year, several people I considered good friends hardly noticed I was leaving (one in particular I counted as a very dear friend). I didn’t get so much as a hug or wave, let alone a card or a follow-up phone call to see how we had made out. It was quite hurtful; it forced me to consider over the last year what it takes to be a good friend and taught me, even at this stage of middle age, what kinds of friends I don’t want. We are truly lucky if we can count our dearest friends on one hand. My friend Jenny and I classify “good friends” as those who would nurse us if we were sick or dying. We all know who those people are in our lives, so take time out to be that GOOD FRIEND to those you care for deeply. Nurture those relationships. Additionally, take time to be open to new friendships, as some new ones might surprise you and be absolutely delightful (this is where I say “thank you” to all my new, welcoming friends). You never know when someone might need you, in both small ways and big ways. It really can make the biggest difference in someone’s life.
  6. Read something that knocks your socks off and makes you think. I can’t tell you how sometimes the right thing to do is to “step outside your comfort zone.” Reading the book “Unbroken” has completely changed my  perception of World War II. And, it was a leap of faith. Recommended by family members and friends, I read this book and couldn’t put it down. This got me out of a rut in no time flat; I was forced to think about someone other than myself, and it felt really good to consider what those men went through. Additionally, I have discussed the book with many other people, so it was a conversation starter and a relationship builder. It has made me appreciate our freedom, our soldiers, and our veterans much more deeply. Don’t be afraid to venture into a new area with your reading. You never know where it could take you or what you could discover about yourself and others.
  7. Dress Up and Do Something Fancy. I know what you’re going to say: no one dresses up anymore, not for anything except an occasional wedding or funeral. It’s sad, really. I marvel at what people wear to the theatre (as in Broadway-style theatre) and church these days. While I love “comfort clothes,” I miss the way people used to dress, in sophisticated clothes for a night on the town. When we see a well-dressed person these days (or even more so, a well-dressed couple), we take notice. Wow, we think, they are looking snappy. And yet, we are celebrity obsessed and want to see what they wear to the Oscars and to the MTV awards, etc. etc. So why don’t we do the same every now and then? Host a party and ask folks to dress up; go out on the town with your date and dress to the nines; have a ladies night out and get swanky. It might very well get you out of a rut.
    My artwork from "Wine & Canvas" Night.
    My artwork from “Wine & Canvas” Night.

I’m sure I could come up with more, but on this Monday, these are my favorites. Pick one and do it. Then tell me all about it.

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