How to Break Out of Your Rut

One Step at a Time.

That’s the short answer.

There are self-help books, blogs, podcasts, Facebook pages, Pinterest boards, Instagram accounts, and the list goes on. Everywhere you look, you will find a list of things people are telling you to do to stop feeling bad. Whether you suffer from mild to severe depression, bipolar disorder, schizophrenia, or your simply having a rough go of it, it can feel impossible for things to get better.

Trust me, I’ve been there. Before I was diagnosed with Bipolar Disorder, I believed that one day my depression would just go away and never come back. Every time I started to feel better, I would think, ‘This is it. This is the first day of the rest of my life.” (Yes, I was dramatic.)

I thought, when I go to highschool things will be better. When I go to college, when I travel, when I graduate, when I get a job. After each milestone in my life, I would think, okay, it didn’t change this time, but it will change the next time.

Until, one day, I realized that being bipolar meant (more than likely) that I would live with some form of depression for the rest of my life. But that doesn’t mean I couldn’t manage it.

I have learned that just like my depression, managing my mental health comes in peaks and valleys. Months might go by where all I do is sit on the couch, watching TV, knitting, and doing the bare minimum to keep the lights on and my clients happy.

And then there will be times when I wake up in the morning and think about what I will do that day to make it different and better than the last. (There are also days when I wake up, ask myself that question, and then roll over and go back to sleep!)

Changing your habits isn’t easy. In fact, that’s the understatement of the century. Habits sometimes feel insurmountable. But habits started somewhere, which means you didn’t always do (or not do) that thing or behave that way.

Which means, that one step at a time, you can change or feel better or simply do more if that’s your goal. I have a friend who recently complained on Facebook that he felt like he wasn’t doing enough. That day, he had done two things 1. Gone to the mailbox and 2. Breathed.

If you’re having trouble getting out of bed in the morning, or leaving the house, then going to the mailbox and breathing are fabulous accomplishments.

If setting a goal of “feeling better” feels overwhelming, then don’t make that your goal. Make your goal, “Accomplish more.” A list of things you might accomplish in a day, (and I highly recommend that you only pick one), include:

  1. Take a shower.
  2. Put on clean, presentable clothes. (This does not mean you have to leave the house.)
  3. Walk around the block.
  4. Walk to the mailbox.
  5. Get up and lay on the couch instead of laying in bed.
  6. Stand, sit, or lay outside in the sun for any length of time, even if it’s only 30 seconds.
  7. Eat a piece of fruit or a vegetable.
  8. Write something down. Anything.
  9. Fold one piece of laundry or wash one dish.
  10. Sit on the floor and watch a yoga video. Even if you don’t do any of the exercises.

The things on this list may seem trivial and even a little silly, but if you’re stuck in a rut – whether it be staying in bed all day, eating poorly, watching TV all day, not leaving the house, or whatever – then changing one part of your day can help break you out.

My rut looks like this – I wake up in the morning, spend an hour surfing the internet, make breakfast, and then I sit on the couch for the rest of the day trying to convince myself to do something, anything else. This week I’ve done yoga twice and I’m going to do it again today. Yoga may not be something I turn into a lifestyle, but it will help me break out of my unhealthy routine.

How are you breaking out of your rut?

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