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7 Ways to Stop Feeling Stuck in a Rut

Ever feel like you’re living the same old thing day after day? If so, you’re not alone. According to a recent survey, more than half of Americans claim they are stuck in a rut, and over three-quarters of people are frustrated with their progress in life. Are we all suffering from too much wishful thinking or just anguishing in daily routine?

Here’s the science: having a structured day helps to lower levels of the stress hormone cortisol, but it also means that you don’t produce much adrenaline or endorphins, leaving you feeling listless and dull. Behavioral psychologist Jo Hemmings says: “While routine is comforting, it can also be a major cause of demotivation. There are so many quick and easy, big and small ways we can mix things up and make the most of every day. Small changes can make big improvements in our daily routine.”

Here are seven simple ways to shake up your routine, help you shake that “same old, same old” feeling, and get you out of your daily rut.

Change your commute. While 4 out of 10 people take the same route to work every day, 1 in 3 admits that they always leave the house at the same time. One or two days a week why not start 10 minutes earlier and take a different route? If you usually drive, can you take public transport occasionally? If you typically travel by train or bus, how about catching an earlier one and walking the last part of the journey?

Try some different food. A staggering 84% of people surveyed said their shopping basket didn’t vary from week to week; 20% said they always got the same takeaway, and 1 in 10 bought the same bottle of wine. Get online and find a new recipe (even if it’s merely a different version of something you know), shop for other ingredients, and cook a different meal. You might find a new favorite food!

Talk to your family.  In the study, 14% of people said they have the same conversation with their partner each evening, moaning about the same people and work issues; 16% tell their children the same thing every day, and 12% take their kids to the same activities all the time. If you’re feeling stuck in a rut, the chances are that your family feel the same way. Work with them to address this; come up with ideas for everyone to make a difference.

Make minor tweaks, not massive changes. Almost 1 in 3 people have the same breakfast every day, and 1 in 4 always order the same coffee. These are great opportunities to make small differences. Cooking a huge morning meal isn’t practical if you’ve got to get children ready for school and then get to work yourself. It’s not going to derail your day if you have a yogurt and fruit instead of a bowl of cereal, or a latte instead of a cappuccino.

Remember that your leisure time is yours; you don’t have to do the same things you’ve always done. Instead of joining the 54% of people who watch the same TV shows every week, or the 10% of couples who continuously have the same date night, try something different. Watch a movie you’re not sure you’ll like or go to a restaurant you’ve never tried. If you don’t enjoy it, you don’t have to do it again, but wouldn’t it be great to be able to laugh with your partner about the strange place you once visited rather than to look back on hundreds of identical meals?

Take a break from social media. You don’t have to close your social accounts; just have a day or two when you don’t check it. If you use social media every day at the same time, then stay away for a while. Unless your job depends on it, you’re unlikely to suffer severe consequences if you take a social media break, and it’s an easy way to disrupt a daily routine.

Think about which routines are sensible and which are just dull. For example, 1 in 3 people wear the same clothes every week. If your workplace has a strict dress code, this makes sense. But if you’re not compelled always to dress the same, why are you doing it? And if you keep going back to the same place on vacation year after year, why? Because it’s kid-friendly, or close to the beach, or has a great nightlife? Lots of other places can offer those things. Get online and do some research; you might be missing out on your best break ever.

Shake up your daily routine. Try some different food or a different route to work. Vary your regular coffee or your usual conversations. Get your family involved; they’re probably just as fed up with hearing the same things as you are of saying them. You don’t have to turn your life upside down; small changes can make a big difference.


Photo of graffiti found in Utö, Finland by Aarón Blanco Tejedor on Unsplash

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