How to get out of a rut and start getting motivated

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We are all familiar with the feeling of being in a rut. You’re tired, not feeling 100% yourself and you cannot seem to get excited about things that usually excite you. If you know this feeling you will probably also find it very frustrating that you can’t figure out why you are unable to get yourself to do the stuff that you need to do. Being in a rut could also be caused by being very busy and therefore feel a little burnt out, so it’s no surprise feelings like this occur at the end of a busy exam period. The mental health of students is a big priority for Utrecht University and they started organizing the Wellbeing Weeks, in which you can follow a lot of workshops that should give your mental health a boost. This time the Wellbeing period lasted two weeks instead of one, so it seems like a fitting time to write about getting out of a rut and getting motivated again.

My biggest tip for getting out of a rut might sound a bit contradictory, but it is important not to forget. First just let yourself be in that rut for a while. Your feelings are valid and you feel off for a reason you should not dismiss. I know you probably want to work on yourself right away to start feeling better, but allow yourself to feel shitty for a bit, that’s better than ignoring and dismissing your feelings. So take a step back and slow down a bit so that the stress will not build up any more. Most importantly, be kind to yourself.

After that, it is time to feel better about ourselves! Remember, also with this it is a process and you should not pressure into getting back on track overnight, appreciate the baby steps too. Everyone knows best for themselves what makes them feel good, but I think some general tips and writing about what personally helps me could be inspiring to you and help you.

A clean space = a clear mind is definitely something that applies for me. Whenever I feel too much chaos in my head and just all around me, it really helps me to clean up some spaces. Starting with your bedroom is always a good one, but do not forget a digital cleanup. I recently deleted a bunch of unnecessary pictures out of my phone gallery and I feel so much better without a push-notification about how I ‘have run out of storage’. A clean space also inspires me to actually keep things clean, so that is a great starting point for a routine. For example, putting your dishes from breakfast away directly so that you are not forced to deal with that when you get home after a long day. Setting a routine is important, because if you stay consistent with it, it builds a lot of self-confidence. That does not mean that you have to have a very elaborate morning routine, but start incorporating small good habits into your day to day tasks for example. Bad habits are usually hard to break, so if you add new good habits and keep the promises you made to yourself, you will probably already feel better.

Keeping track of your planning and to-do list is also very important to not get overwhelmed easily. I just love writing in physical planners, but right now I really like to keep my planner and notes synchronized on my laptop and phone so that I always have it with me. It is also very easy to do so with Google Calendar and the Notion app. Then, whenever someone texts you with a date you should write down, you can do it immediately and also do not have to keep messaged unopened for a bit, something that can be very stressful from time to time.

Movement and nature are very good for your body and mind too, so why not kill two birds with one stone? What I usually like to do is go for a walk, perhaps with a friend, just around the neighborhood. Hanging out and talking with friends is also so important for your mental health. When you are feeling in a rut you might not have the energy to be very social, which is totally okay to take a break from too, but do not forget that you can also receive a lot of energy from being around the right people. However, if you are not into walking, you can also start slow with this. A 15-minute-walk is already great for your health and probably pretty easy to incorporate into your busy schedule if you will not take the bus once a day. Whenever I am on my walks I love to listen to a podcast or to some music that will hype me up; such a mood booster. Music in general can have such a positive outcome for your mind. So maybe the idea of going outside for a small workout might not excite you, I promise you you will feel better afterwards.

Then my next tip is something that we as university students probably do not have a lot of time for, but reading for pleasure is also very relaxing to me. A good book can inspire you creatively and is also very good to be very present in the moment and can reduce anxiety. If you do not like reading, finding something that inspires you in general is a great idea for getting out of a rut. During the Wellbeing week university workshop on how to get and stay motivated they also talked about finding something that inspires you, setting small reachable goals so that you feel good about actually being able to accomplish them. Rewarding yourself in the process of doing (mandatory) tasks, is very important to hold on to the motivation. You should get to work with not just motivation but also with the right intention and then it should be easier to take action.

These are just few tips on how to pull yourself out of a rut, but remember that it’s important to listen to yourself and to your body. Do what feels good for you and hopefully you will be out of the rut in no-time. If you ever need to talk to someone about your mental health or anything else, don’t be afraid to reach out. Hucbald’s confidants will gladly talk to you.

Take care and give yourself some love!