Healthy Living

10 Ways to Tell if You’re Stuck in a Rut

When was the last time you tried something new? Read these questions and see the answers we found to add some adventure to life.

It’s so easy to fall into a rut and stop doing new things. Kids, family obligations, work, errands and appointments all add up to very little “me” time. One day you just wake up and feel bored and restless, despite being “busy” and running around.

So stop for a moment and ask yourself: “Am I in a rut?”

  1. Does your local Chinese restaurant know your order as soon as they hear your voice? It’s easy to stop shaking things up – even when it comes to your evening meal! Put down the phone, take a culinary class, and learn new recipes.
  2. Are you still listening to the same music you downloaded two years ago? Maybe it’s time to take a glance at your teen’s music downloads!
  3. When was the last time you and your significant other tried something new together . . . anything? Dance lessons, museum tours, a visit to that jazz club you always pass while on the way to work? Sign up for something together. Anything.
  4. Are you still buying the same brand of (makeup, jeans…fill in the blank) that you used when Madonna’s “Like a Virgin” was first released? Find a personal shopper at any major department store or your favorite boutique and revamp your wardrobe – fast!
  5. Is your wedding video still in VHS format? No excuses. Convert.
  6. Are you still making that same chicken recipe every week that you found online last summer? Quit chicken for a month. See what happens.
  7. Have you left your zipcode in the last two weeks for a reason other than to go to your doctor appointment across town? Plan a “staycation” and set aside a day to explore another part of town.
  8. Have you stared at a “masterpiece” recently other than the one taped to your refrigerator? Culture and the arts are so important. Just looking at art or design can change your perspective and inspire new ideas. Visit a museum this week.
  9. Have you been taking the same exercise class for so long you can do it blindfolded? Sign up for a spin class, yoga class, boot camp – anything you don’t normally do.
  10. Did your old “friends” at your high school reunion remark that your hair “looks exactly the same”? When was the last time you and your significant other tried something new together… anything? No excuses. Shake it up. Go to a new salon and do something new.

If you answered yes to even a few of these questions, it may be time to shake things up!

Many women don’t make time for themselves. We overthink things, constantly worry, say “yes” too often, and take care of everyone except ourselves. It’s so important to remember to carve out time for yourself each and every week. Just the simple act of doing something new—anything—can change your perspective, your mood, and open doors you didn’t even know existed.

A few years ago I was in a rut. A good friend and I were feeling “stuck” and vowed to try something new or different every week for a year and blog about it (the52weeks.com). It was hard, but we forged ahead. We took dance lessons, went rock climbing, test drove sports cars, learned how to box, explored Kabbalah, and even ate blueberries every day for a week all in an effort to break out of our comfort zones.

We soon realized we were inspiring other women to try new things, too. Many wrote to us and told us they shared our feelings of restlessness. When did so many women stop exploring the new and start feeling so complacent? So we did some research and spoke to experts. They all pretty much agreed: It’s critical to try different things to feel alive and grow. It’s also a great way to discover, or rediscover, yourself. If you feel bored or stuck, try just one new thing and you will feel better. Yet, many find this hard to do. We certainly did when we embarked on our 52-week journey.

Alex Lickerman, M.D., author of The Undefeated Mind: On the Science of Constructing an Indestructible Self and a regular contributor to Psychology Today, says that’s not unusual. In his work, he has found that people often resist trying unfamiliar things because they are afraid. Most people tend to stay with what they know — their established routine (that weekly Chinese takeout order?). Dr. Lickerman gives voice to many of our fears: What if I don’t like this new dish? What if the foreign country I am going to visit is dangerous? He believes we fear an unknown outcome more than we do a known bad one. However, he also believes new things can reveal unexpected possibilities, including new careers or even life paths. The bottom line is when you try something outside your realm of comfort, you battle boredom and force yourself to evolve.

So think about the last time you tried something new or even just got out of your zip code. If it’s been so long you can’t remember what you did, it’s time to break out of your comfort zone and get moving again. You’ll be surprised what a difference it will make. Make a list. We call it a “52” list – a list of 52 things you want to try this year. It’s not only about adventure-seeking activities; even small steps in the right direction count. Then, after you check off a few, if you want to listen to Madonna’s early Billboard hits, feel free. Routine can be a wonderfully comforting thing.

Karen Amster-Young
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