5 Ways to Get Out of a Rut (and Back in the Game)

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Trust life, and it will teach you, in joy and sorrow, all you need to know.
— James Baldwin

Sometimes Life Can Get You Down

We all have those days when we aren't quite ourselves. Maybe we're feeling down due to unforeseen circumstances, or maybe we're just having an off day. Then it becomes an off week. Before I could stop, a whole month had gone by where I was sleeping more, working less, and ignoring my responsibilities.

This is uncommon for my personality and I realized I had been in a rut. I couldn't live like this. Now, this post is not "how I stopped being depressed" or "just got over being sad". Mental illness is not something for me to diagnose, but if you think you're in a rut, here are 5 steps I used to get out of it.

You Are Not In This Boat Alone

You Are Not In This Boat Alone

Sit with your anger

A friend of mine let me know that I had been acting weird. And she was right. I was putting on an act, as best as I could. I was trying to act like myself, but I was doing a terrible job at it. I'm a horrible actress, and my friend had called me out on it. What was my problem? I was ANGRY. I was tense all the time and didn't know why. What I did know was that I had to "be normal." I didn't feel normal, and my friend was able to let me know I wasn't acting normal. What could I do? Well, she said- sit with it. Feel your feelings and maybe I could move past them.

Crying is allowed

I cried a lot. I'm still crying and that too is okay. As with feeling my anger, I was equally sad and grieving. There is no shame in taking the time to get yourself together. Once someone gave me permission, I was able to grieve without guilt. So from that point when I wanted to cry, I cried. When I was feeling joy, I sat with it. I was no longer hiding my sadness away to be more productive and I wasn't trying to stockpile up all my happiness to look like a complete person.

Give yourself some time to decompress

In my act to be normal, I tried to fit in more work. Working and cleaning my home would give me another excuse say everything was just fine. But the work only made the stress more unbearable, and then, I stopped doing the work. I started ignoring my responsibilities and then feeling guilty about it. I wasn't giving myself a break to relieve the stress of my life, only adding more stress when I tried to ignore it. So I took a breather. I slept in. I let someone else do the dishes for me. I gave myself some space to focus on just me, and recharge so I could be more productive.

Reach out for comfort

This was really tough and I didn't want to burden anyone. Who has time for me? No no was knocking down my door to chat, so if I asked for comfort, no one would be there. Well, I was WRONG. The moment I texted a friend and asked to talk, she made time for me. And it happened over and over. The people in your life want to help, but usually, at this age, we all think everyone it too busy. We're not. We have time for Pokemon Go and Facebook. We all certainly have time for a chat with a friend who is feeling lost and in need of a pick-me-up.

Listen to someone else vent

Once I reached out, friends of mine could relate to me and give me ideas on how to feel better. Knowing that someone was having the same feelings gave me validation. Sometimes they had better words to express what was going on in my head. Having language for it gave me a better understanding and the power to change. I even read books where the authors mirrored my thoughts exactly, which was, even more, validation.

Goodbye Rut.png

I wasn't alone and didn't need to pretend to be. I grieved, I reached out, and I took in ideas that could help. Everyone approaches self-care differently. What works for me may not work for you. But, I hope I've given you some ideas to start with.


Do you have any proven self-care steps that have been working for you? Let me know in the comments below. 

Antoinette Scully Headshot by Sara MacFarlane

About the Author

Black & Bookish is the brainchild of Antoinette Scully, educator and lover of all things bookish. She is on a quest to fill your bookshelves with beloved authors of the African Diaspora. When she's not hanging out online, she's living it up as the mother of two rambunctious girls and wife of a local filmmaker.