Try our free, self-paced course to get tools to support your mental wellbeing. Tap here to sign up.

Getting out of a rut
Resources: Self-care, Youth Talk
Stuck on a rut, not feeling very challenged or motivated? You are not alone. Our writer shares how she got moving.
Getting out of a rut

Welcome to our Youth Talk Blog, a section dedicated to youth lived-experiences with mental health and wellbeing, with weekly blog posts from diverse young people’s perspectives. This is a positive, fun and resourceful space, showcasing young people thriving and connecting with healthful activities, resources and support. This post has been written by Jess, our Community Education intern, who is a 22-year-old psychology student.

Many people like myself, either have been or know someone who seems to be in a stage of life which some would call ‘a rut’. It’s a stage of life where you do not know where you are going or what you may want to do next. For instance, I am in my last year of undergraduate study and when this is over, I could be considered to be at crossroads. This is very common, and a lot of people go through this at some point in their lives. It is a normal part of development, life transitions, and of growing.  

Being stuck in a rut can also feel like you are just going through the motions and not feeling very challenged. Instead of moving towards goals and what you value in life, you may feel stuck in one place which can be frustrating. However, there are ways which can help you figure out why you are stuck and feel excited and motivated again. Some tell-tale signs you could be stuck in a rut is that you just try to get by everyday as it comes without any feelings of inspiration or motivation. You may feel unfulfilled, or life seems monotonous, you may know you want to change something but might be afraid of the risk of failure so you may want to avoid the risks by staying where you are. 

After recognising you are stuck in a rut, it is useful to see what is causing you to feel stuck, before making any changes. For example, it could have to do with the people surrounding you, your job, your lifestyle, or your hobbies. It is very important when identifying what the issue is that we do not judge ourselves for what the circumstances are but try to accept them and look at what to do next with an open mind. 

There are many ways one can get out of the stuck place in their life. (

  1. Take care of yourself. Be compassionate towards yourself and what you may be going through. Ask yourself whether you have been eating well, sleeping enough or spending time with people who care about you. Paying attention to these basic acts of self-care can add value to your mental health and general functioning. 
  2. Change up the routine. Sometimes being bored can lead to feeling stuck. Therefore, adding experiences to your day can help. For example, talking to new people can bring about new interests as well as making new friends. 
  3. Try being outdoors more. Researchers have discovered that being in nature can have a positive impact on the brain. Studies have found that nature walks increased mental wellbeing and lowered stress. Studies have also shown that it can enhance creativity.
  4. Find purpose by trying to connect with your values. Reflect on whether what you are doing on a daily basis is in alignment with your values. If your everyday activities are not in alignment with your values, it may be beneficial to revaluate your everyday activities, make changes where appropriate, and find balance. In case you are not too sure about your values, perhaps this may be a good time to start thinking about them. 
  5. Try to schedule activities to look forward to. Even if it is a small activity like going out for dinner on a Friday night, this can lift spirits. Researchers have found holding on for larger rewards in the future builds better self-control, better self-discipline, and stronger will power. 
  6. Boost your motivation. When starting a new task, do it in little steps and make sure to reward yourself with positive reinforcement to encourage yourself to keep going.  

Personally, I have found taking small steps like writing down a list and completing things one by one is a great source of motivation for me. Even writing down a routine or work/university schedule makes it easy for me to know what I must do and helps me in planning goals for myself. To summarise, feeling uninspired and stuck is very common. It is important not to be hard on yourself over it, and to take the necessary steps to move forward to feel motivated again.