5 tips for breaking yourself out of a rut

5 tips for breaking yourself out of a rut

by Eunice Chua 19 Jan 2020

Ruts are negative phases we’ve all been through at some point in our lives. Such periods in time when you lose all motivation and find yourself going through the days mindlessly? That’s a mental rut – something that sucks the joy out of things you normally like to do and leaves you with a mind simmering in negative thoughts. Ruts may not be permanent, but they can have a really negative effect on productivity. Wouldn’t you rather spend your time in a better state of mind?


It’s hard to avoid experiencing ruts, since we’re all prone to moments of doubt and low mental energy, but there are ways for us to break out of these ruts and go back to our usual motivated selves.


1. Plan a simple and achievable to-do list

Assign yourself manageable tasks that you won’t have to struggle to complete – this will get your engine going and create momentum for the days to come. Finishing simple, everyday chores like arranging your desk or clearing unwanted clothes will inject some satisfaction in your life. This will cut straight through to the negative thoughts stuck in your head and breaks the rut’s spell a little.


2. Meditate away

Mindfulness helps you see past the fog of despair in your head by helping you separate thought from fact. When you meditate, your mind clears up and you can understand your thoughts from a better perspective. Engaging in mind-body activities like yoga or tai chi can have a similar effect.


3. Start a diary

The physical act of penning down your thoughts can be cathartic. First of all, you’re releasing them from your mind. Also, reading your own words can help you come to terms with the emotions behind them. Our fears can be irrational sometimes and spelling them out for yourself helps you to see them objectively.


4. Swing your mindset around

Our thoughts have significant power over our lives, so choose to think positively! Every time you find yourself thinking something negative, turn the direction of the sentence around with a “but”. Perhaps you’re feeling disappointed with your pace of work today. When you start thinking “I’m so unproductive”, turn that tone around – tell yourself something good that you’ve done before. A “but it’s okay because I worked extra hard yesterday” or something actionable, such as “but I’ll make up for it tomorrow” are good examples. In short, if the positive vibes just aren't there, create them yourself!


5. Get someone on board

The nature of a rut is such that it leaves you unmotivated to do anything, including breaking out of the rut itself. This is why you should definitely consider enlisting someone’s help. Tell them what you’re going through and get their help in keeping track of your goals. Sometimes, all we need is a reminder from someone other than ourselves to whip us into action.


Ruts may be normal occurrences but waiting for motivation to strike takes much too long. It’s time to realise that you can break out of them early and get your life back on track by being proactive and not giving into the blues!