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How to Break Out of a Rut

How to Break Out of a Rut

Breaking out a rut is hard in normal times, but no one could have prepared us for living through a pandemic. I don't know about you, but the last year has felt like I'm perpetually stuck in the longest rut of my life. You know the feeling. You're stuck, unmotivated, unexcited, and feeling majorly BLAH. I have often stopped to think, what's wrong with me just to remember, oh yeah, this isn't simply me; it's the global pandemic. So, after the dust settled from the initial shock and lifestyle change, why do we still feel like this? Those of us who have stayed healthy and employed should be jumping for joy, but it's hard to appreciate that blessing when life as we know it is radically different. We now live with restrictions on the greatest pleasures, affecting us mentally and even worse physically. As life slowly regains some normalcy, things like exotic travel, concerts, and adventure still seem so far away. I have found pleasure in the little things coming back, like dining at a restaurant, but it doesn't make up for the lack of social interaction and daily movement for the past year.

“Being captive in my home with diminished social skills and mobility has turned me into what feels like an overweight sloth.“

As a long-standing New Yorker, we no longer brace the cold and the MTA every morning. The absence of that activity alone has reduced my movement almost in its entirety. I used to walk over 3 miles on a slow day! Being captive in my home with diminished social skills and mobility has turned me into what feels like an overweight sloth. This time around, the rut has a name; it's been coined the quarantine-15, which refers to weight we've all gained while staying home. My therapist assured me that it was customary to seek comfort in food and alcohol, but that doesn't make me feel any better about the new pudge that sits on my hips. As we face life resuming back to normal, I'm more stressed about fitting into my pants than anything else.

How to Break Out of a Rut

Taking action can be the most challenging part about breaking out of a rut, but I decided I wasn't ready to let covid win. I knew it would be hard, and the damage I've caused to my waistline would take some long-term commitment to fix, but at this point, I was fed up with feeling like shit. It's funny how sometimes we have to hit a breaking point to change; we will live below the level we want to for so long because it's comfortable. I was finally uncomfortable enough to face it. Unfortunately, there is no overnight fix for your mind and body. You just have to start making better choices. I keep telling myself I've done it before; I can do it again. Taking control over my health isn't just for aesthetics; yes, I want to look good, but I want to feel good too, and I know that other good behaviors will follow once I feel better.

"As we face life resuming back to normal, I'm more stressed about fitting into my pants than anything else. "

When it's time to pull yourself out of your bad habit loop, the goal is to put long-term gains over short-term satisfaction. That can be hard when all you want is to drink a bottle of wine and forget your worries for a night. When you feel like you have little to look forward to, consumption can be the easiest way to get your fix. Consumption can be more than just food and alcohol; it can be drugs, sex, social media, news, politics, tv, video games, or anything you use to zone out of the discomfort you feel. We use these things to cope, and given the last year, it's completely understandable. But at some point, we have to toe the line between self-care and self-sabotage. It's ok to treat yourself every once in a while, but if it's standing in the way of your goals, it's time to investigate. I decided it was time to face the music and make some changes, and after a week, I was starting to feel like myself again.

Focus on Your Health

How to Break Out of a Rut

Focusing on your health is the first thing to start with to break out of a rut. When you feel your best, you have the motivation you need to tackle life's challenges. You have more energy, and nothing feels better than strong and healthy. Luckily for me, my loving boyfriend is a big supporter of living a healthy lifestyle, and when I told him I wanted to start a program to get myself going again, he jumped on board. Getting yourself a workout buddy can be a huge help to keep you motivated, and it makes it a hell of a lot more fun. Having someone there to hold you accountable will help keep you on track when you feel like bailing. It's easy to cancel on yourself, but leaving your buddy hanging isn't going to be such an easy feat. We decided to make it easy on ourselves and do a beach body program that was honestly a no-brainer. It gave us a meal plan, streamed the workouts, and took the guesswork out of it. It was simple to follow, and although it wasn't perfect, I was starting to feel better immediately. I know that one program isn’t going to snap me back into pre-pandemic shape, but it jump-started the focus on my health, which has slowly led to more energy, better sleep, and starting to lose some lbs. When you begin to feel better physically, you have more energy to focus on other areas of your life.

Clean House

How to Break Out of a Rut

When you start to feel good about your health, keep those healthy habits going and then disperse some of your newfound energy to household projects. For me, that always means a deep clean, organizing session, and finishing touches on my feng shui. Over time clutter and the dust settles into our space, and we have a slew of projects that get pushed aside. Hoarding and the overwhelm of stuff can weigh you down. If you aren't in the habit of cleaning out, I highly recommend it once a season. Experts like Marie Kondo in Tidying Up with Marie Kondo and Tim Gunn in Tim Gunn's Fashion Bible have created guidelines on how and what to get rid of. I usually follow Tim Gunn's rules for my closet, but this year I extended them a little to compensate for covid living. Usually, his practice is if you haven't worn it in a year, it's got to go. I keep unique pieces that I love, and instead of feeling sad about letting things go, I felt grateful for the time I spent in them. Sometimes we hold onto stuff for too long. It reminds us of who we were, but it's holding us back from becoming who we are supposed to be. For me, that was a stockpile of shoes and clothes that I hadn't worn in years, and I felt immediately lighter because of it. It makes space to let your closets breathe, and trust me; those closets have been suffocating. It's also always a good time to donate; the items you once loved will find a new home where they are much appreciated. You can also sell items on the plethora of sites; we've had luck on Craigslist, Apt Deco, NextDoor, Poshmark, and eBay for those valuable items you may have collected. Selling the old helps fund the new, and that can go towards decorating your space. I fully believe in investing in your space, so you feel at peace and proud of your home. Even little things like painting an accent wall or moving around your furniture can make your home feel refreshed. If you want to get really into your space's energy, check out Karen Kingston Creating Sacred Space with Feng Shui: Learn the Art of Space Clearing and Bring New Energy into Your Life. Top it off with some smudging, and you've got yourself a clean and productive space. No rut's in that house!

Change Shit Up

How to Break Out of a Rut

Lastly, finally getting outside and into life again has started to lift the cloud of boredom. New York winters are brutal, but this year was unlike any other. Spring weather has brought on long walks with a dear friend and a new lack of dread to run errands. I started scheduling reasons to leave the house, and I'm enjoying it more than ever. I forgot how much I loved being out in the city; it gives me a burst of energy just to turn on some music and walk down the city blocks. Even if I am only going to grab coffee or groceries, someday soon, that will turn into so much more. Getting outside, moving your body, and living your damn life is enough to pull anyone out of a rut. Some of us have been more cooped up than others depending on the state but staying home afraid for our health is no way to live. As things begin to open back up, start intentionally scheduling ways to get out of the house and experience life. I was able to go to a pilates class after a year of isolation, and it felt so f*cking fantastic. Meet with a friend for a coffee or take your workout to the park. Staying inside behind our devices has only led to our demise, and when there is no variety, the boredom creeps in all too quickly. I have never been good at sticking to a routine because I thrive off variety, so building consistent good habits has been challenging. The way to balance it out is to try something new to keep things fresh. Change your look, try a new recipe, do a different exercise, play a new game, and have some fun.

When you're in a rut, remember to give yourself some grace, you may still need a relaxing day on the couch or a few glasses of wine, and that's ok. You're f*cking human.

Life can be tedious, and I don't think we ever anticipated what it had in store for us. This past year has been brutal, so don't beat yourself up for where you are. Just start taking small steps towards where you want to be. When getting out of my rut, I focused a lot on the external, including my health and fitness, space, and activities, but don't forget to check in with your internal self. I always suggest journaling and meditation as easy ways you can keep yourself grounded. I'm not a big meditator, but it can help me see my way out of fog if I meditate with intention. Journaling is a creative way to let out emotions, write goals, and you're 42% more likely to achieve something if you write it down. When you're in a rut, remember to give yourself some grace, you may still need a relaxing day on the couch or a few glasses of wine, and that's ok. You're f*cking human. But once you gain some momentum out of your rut, those instances will be fewer and far between. As the seasons change, we all get a fresh start. Spring is finally here, and just like every spring, things are beginning to blossom, including me.

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