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8 Tips to Break Free from a Rut

When we’re trapped in a frustrating state of inertia, nothing makes sense and hope of an escape eludes us.

Remember, we are never truly stuck. Even when we are bounded physically, when the mind feels free, our reality changes.

Below are eight ways to break free of a rut:

  1. Exercise.
    We often indulge in vices to get rid of negative emotions and tension. Personally, I find exercise to be the healthiest outlet for releasing stress and anxiety. Whenever I feel pent-up energy within me, I’ll go running and only stop when I feel completely exhausted. Negativity seems to disperse with each step forward.
  2. Music.
    Music can quickly change your state of mind. When you feel like running to a mountain and yelling into space, try instead to sing your heart out. While you’re at it, dance and jump away!
  3. Colors.
    When you’re feeling stuck, chances are you’re feeling lethargic, lost and frustrated. During times like these, employ colors creatively in your choice of clothes or home decor. Use orange or yellow to feel energized, black or red to feel grounded and blue or green to feel calm. You can quickly add color into your environment through flowers, clothing, accessories and posters.
  4. Aromatherapy.
    Burn sage to clear the air at home and use lemon essential oil to bring freshness to your living space. To feel calm, use lavender oil. You can carry a small bottle of essential oil to dab on your wrists or behind your ears.
  5. Healthy living.
    You need energy, motivation and a clear mind in order to problem-solve and make progress. Get adequate sleep (seven to eight hours daily) and hydration (eight glasses of water daily). Eat whole, unprocessed foods and get at least two and a half hours of moderate exercise a week.
  6. Unplug.
    Sometimes the best way to get inspiration is to take a break. Spend some time in nature or near water. Turn your phone on airplane mode, or at least turn off notifications so you can stay unplugged and distraction-free. Few things rejuvenate the soul, no matter how weary or trapped it feels, like time in the sun and fresh air.
  7. Increase your knowledge.
    We cannot solve a persistent problem with the same level of knowledge and set of skills. More often than not, the way to arrive at an out-of-the-box solution is to equip yourself with input from various sources. Read fiction, nonfiction, even cookbooks. Take a class in something you’ve always wanted to learn, or take up a new hobby.
  8. Calm your mind.
    The answer you seek will arise within you when the heart, mind and body are still. We usually already know what we need to do. Try yoga, journaling, or meditation to achieve calm.

Jogging photo available from Shutterstock

8 Tips to Break Free from a Rut

Sylvia Huang

Sylvia Huang is a blogger on life ideas that make every day feel good. She writes about habits and productivity, health and wellness, communication and money matters and shares them with her 200,000 social media followers. Her inspiration comes from her experiences living in Japan, France, Kenya, Australia, Singapore and Malaysia, working in the fund management industry and travels in over 25 countries. Read her other articles on her website, and join her on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram.

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APA Reference
Huang, S. (2018). 8 Tips to Break Free from a Rut. Psych Central. Retrieved on October 28, 2020, from
Scientifically Reviewed
Last updated: 8 Jul 2018 (Originally: 16 Oct 2015)
Last reviewed: By a member of our scientific advisory board on 8 Jul 2018
Published on Psych All rights reserved.