Tag Archives: Encouragement

Breaking Out of a Rut

In a Rut

Recognizing a rut

What does a rut look like and feel like?

“Stuck in a rut” is an idiom that means being mired in routine. The figurative phrase calls to mind the image of a wagon wheel hopelessly trapped in a deep rut on an unpaved road.    It feels like nothing is changing, that your life is the same all the time.  Basically, it is a fixed, usually boring routine.  You can be in a rut in relationships, at work,  in exercise or diet.  Ever had that feeling that you were going nowhere?  Just spinning your wheels?  That every day was the same?  When you are out of inspiration and ideas, you are stuck in a rut.  How can you get out of it ?  How can you get back to being creative, energetic, enthusiastic?

  1. Remember what you want.  Do you want to participate in a marathon?  Do you want THAT more than you want the doughnut at work?  How about free time on the weekend? Do you want that enough to do laundry during the evening during the week?
  2. Listen to your gut, your instinct.  I have found that when I feel a situation isn’t right for me, I should trust that feeling.  If something comes up that is a little out of your comfort zone, but you are interested in it, take a chance and do it.  You may find out something about yourself or your hidden abilities!
  3. Look at your to-do list and start on small tasks.  Clearing off your list can help make room for new ideas, new projects, and new ideas.  It can also give you energy, believe it or not.  Sometimes simply getting moving in ANY direction can help you refocus.
  4. Work on a self-improvement project.  No, I don’t mean a DIY house project or anything similar.  I mean, improve YOURSELF.  Read a book outside of your normal interests or even one on a subject you are interested in but don’t know much about.  Write a letter to the editor.  Take an online course; there are a lot of them available from mainstream universities online and FREE.  Take a class at the community college.  Go to a seminar.
  5. Talk to a friend or go out to dinner or a movie.  Sometimes getting out and about and spending time with others can get your mind off of the rut and help you break out of it.
  6. Get some exercise.   Not only may that spur new ideas and energy, it will improve your overall health and sleep.
  7. Break your pattern by doing something that you wouldn’t normally do.  If someone asks you to go to an ethic restaraunt that you haven’t been to or t see a movie of a genre that you don’t usually choose, say YES instead of no.
  8. Amazingly enough, helping someone else can help you.  If you simply cannot think of a way to get out of the rut, help out in a soup kitchen, clean out the closet and donate to a veterans’ group or local charity.Now what
  9. Don’t worry so much about mistakes.  If you try too hard to avoid failure, you will avoid success as well.  Learn from your mistakes; that is how you grow and develop good ideas and stimulate creativity, rather than stifling it.
  10. Remember that “this too shall pass.”  Everything passes, given enough time. If you are in a rut, remember that you will move through this; there will be brighter days ahead.
  11. Check your diet; sometimes eating too much junk, drinking too many things that are bad for you can make you feel stuck or uncomfortable.  Check it out and try eating a little healthier, changing a little at a time.
  12. Try a change of scenery – something simple like a walk in a natural area or as involved as a vacation.  Change your location and your surroundings.  Sometimes that is all it takes to jolt you back to creativity.  In addition, time away from the tasks at hand can give your mind the break it needs.
  13. Believe it or not, doodling helps.  Draw simple drawings or repetitive designs on a notepad for a little while.  Do it every day.  Do it when you are listening to someone or while watching TV. You will be surprised at how well this works to jump-start creativity.  Check out “zen doodling” or “zen doodles” or “doodle art” online – you will find a lot of ideas.
  14. Go for a long drive and listen to loud music.
  15. Listen to some TED talks.
  16. If your rut is diet, buy a new cook book.  Try a new type of food.  Try a new spice or ingredient.  Go to a new restaurant or try a new dish at your favorite restaurant.
  17. When you are at the grocery store, pick up a vegetable or fruit that you’ve never tried before.
  18. To keep weight loss continuing or to get off a weight loss “plateau,” change up your exercise routine.  Make sure you do different types of exercise: walking, basketball, racquet ball, aerobics, et cetera.
  19. Learn something new.  Pick up a new hobby, take an online course, go to a seminar.
  20. Set some goals.  Find something that you’ve always wanted to accomplish, set a goal and a time to accomplish it, and then break the goal down into smaller steps.  The goals don’t have to be large to start with; accomplishing anything, even a small goal, will help.
  21. If you are in a relationship rut, do something with your partner that is out of the ordinary.  If you don’t go to the theater, find something local and go.  Try out the local symphony.  Go to see a local sports team play.  Buy a conversation starter pack (cards with conversation starters) and try that.  Surprise your partner with a night out on the town – or even out of town!
  22. Attend a lecture with your partner – then go discuss it over coffee or dessert.
  23. Go out to dinner, try a new cuisine – and TURN OFF THE CELL PHONES!  Talk to each other, hold hands, go for a walk.

Nothing goes away until

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Filed under Goals, Lists, Self-Improvement

100 Random Acts of Kindness

  1. Buy coffee for the next person in line.
  2. Leave encouraging notes for people – in library books, on tables, near study areas.
  3. Send an encouraging email to someone.
  4. Put a note in a child’s lunch.
  5. Send an encouraging card or letter.
  6. Call your parents.
  7. Call your grandparents.
  8. Tape money for a drink to a soda machine.
  9. Leave dollars hidden near toys in the dollar store.
  10. Leave a plant on someone’s porch.
  11. Send a box of sunshine to someone.
  12. Smile at someone waiting on you.
  13. Tip well.
  14. Say hello.
  15. Buy a meal for someone in need.
  16. Save change, turn into bills, give to needy.
  17. Cut someone’s grass.
  18. Take a meal to a harried mom.
  19. Make a special treat for your family.
  20. Listen without interruption.
  21. When appropriate, give a hug.
  22. Do a chore for a loved one.
  23. Thank a veteran.
  24. Thank a teacher.
  25. Give scarves, gloves, hats, coats to the homeless.
  26. Participate in a walk/run for a cause.
  27. Leave a gift for your waiter.
  28. Leave notes in library books.
  29. If you see that someone needs something, give freely.
  30. Hold a hand.
  31. Just be there.
  32. Leave a gift card for a waiter, a mailman, your hair stylist.
  33. Donate books, supplies to a women’s shelter.
  34. Put together personal hygiene bags for a homeless shelter.
  35. Tape lottery tickets to a gas pump.
  36. Leave a Starbucks gift card with a note in a library book.
  37. Lend an ear when someone is upset – and JUST listen.
  38. Donate books to a growing library.
  39. Buy school supplies and donate to the school.
  40. Send a care package to a college student.
  41. Write to a soldier.
  42. Thank an EMT.
  43. Take cookies to the firehouse.
  44. Bundle nail files and a bottle of nail polish and leave at a park with a note – “This is for you.  Have a great day!”
  45. Write encouraging post-its and leave around the house.
  46. Cut a neighbor’s lawn.
  47. Help an older neighbor weed flower beds.
  48. Read to a child.
  49. Let a child read to you 🙂
  50. Give your child’s teachers a gift basket.
  51. Take gift cards to teachers.
  52. Give friends a night out by watching their children.
  53. Help a child with homework.
  54. Take a friend for a manicure.
  55. Take a friend out to dinner.
  56. Give someone a gift certificate for a massage.
  57. Teach a child how to do something.
  58. Give restaurant gift cards to your mailman.
  59. Make freezer meals for a family in crisis.
  60. Donate to a cause in someone’s name.
  61. Make a get well soon gift basket for someone.
  62. Leave encouraging post cards in public places.
  63. Send encouraging post cards to people who are struggling.
  64. Say you are sorry.
  65. Have tea with a friend.
  66. Be a Big Brother/Big Sister.
  67. Crochet scarves for the homeless.
  68. Make motivational/inspirational bookmarks and leave in library books.
  69. Volunteer for clean-ups.
  70. Make a favorite meal for someone.
  71. Watch your spouse’s favorite movie with him/her.
  72. Volunteer at a soup kitchen.
  73. Bake cookies for a child.
  74. Fix a nutritious snack for the homeless.
  75. Visit a lemonade stand.
  76. Give someone an umbrella on a rainy day.
  77. Leave an inspirational book in a doctor’s office.
  78. Listen – REALLY listen. Continue reading

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Filed under Gifts, Lists, Self-Improvement

Expand Your Horizons: Try One New Thing a Week for a Year

I have decided to expand my horizons. I am trying one new thing each week. Some are life-style changes (eating more vegetables, meditation) and some are small (learning to do anagrams, doing crossword puzzles). I think that it is very important to stretch yourself. It is important to stay active both physically and mentally to stay sharp mentally.

I got this idea from 43 Things (here) and I have found that it is a great way to stimulate personal growth. I’m also finding out more about myself – what I enjoy and what I don’t, what foods and beverages I like and what I don’t. Since one of my ongoing goals is to get to know myself better, I’m also working toward another goal while working on this one.

Another benefit of this is that expanding your experiences can benefit your overall outlook. According to part of an article in Time (here), people who have a range of experiences and try new things are more likely to retain positive emotions and minimize the negative than people who have fewer experiences.
If you are afraid to try new things, try breaking the process down into smaller steps. Take one step at a time. If that doesn’t work, try something a little more familiar but still new. Basically, this can also be a good way to face your fears as well as expand your horizons. If you are afraid if heights, try something like riding in a hot-air balloon or simply going to the top of a well-known building or monument (the Washington Monument or the Empire State Building come to mind). If you are afraid of doing things alone, try something simple like a walk in the park or a lunch in your favorite restaurant. Take along a book. The fear is frequently worse than actually doing the action.

Examples of things that I’ve done since I started this are:

  1. Sudoku – I tried these puzzles but it just isn’t my thing.
  2. Reading historical speeches: I decided I wanted to read the complete “I Have a Dream” speech, as well as the “Pearl Harbor” speech, and a number of others.
  3. A genre of book that I had not read before: political autobiography. I read Colin Powell’s My American Journey. It was far more interesting than I anticipated.
  4. I tried a Galia melon. I had never had one before; it was interesting. It looks like a cantaloupe but tastes (to me) more like honeydew.
  5. Playing around with photography – this is fun since I have a digital camera and I just delete the pictures that I don’t like or that don’t turn out well.

I admit that I haven’t really tried anything big so far – but the things I’ve done are things that are easy to work into my life and schedule. Right now, that is very important. I have an infant and I have to work around her schedule and needs right now. I also find trying new things to be good for my mental health right now as well – it gives me something to look forward to each week, as well as a break from daily routines and ruts into which I’ve fallen.  At any rate, I highly recommend trying this.  You never know…you might find out something surprising about yourself!

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Filed under Goals, Self-Improvement

101 Ways To Cheer Yourself Up

  1. Do something nice for someone else.
  2. Go outside in the sunshine for 10-15 minutes.
  3. Take a break and read for 1/2 an hour.
  4. Soak in tub of hot water while listening to music.
  5. Surround yourself with candles and listen to music – or just peace and quiet.
  6. Write down what you are worried about and take a nap – or go to bed if it is time; you may have fresh ideas in the morning or after you wake up.
  7. Make lists; sometimes it helps to break things into smaller steps and check them off as you complete them.
  8. Write a letter to someone you’ve not heard from in a while.
  9. Write letters to older relatives; they will love it.
  10. Find a penpal.
  11. Show a child how to do something.
  12. Blow bubbles for a child.
  13. Set goals (do-able, achievable) for the day or week and check them off as you accomplish them. Start small.
  14. Read to a child.
  15. Have a cup of tea and a snack.
  16. Call a friend.
  17. Watch your favorite movie and have some popcorn (or your favorite treat).
  18. Start a movie night with friends.
  19. Get out of the house if you’ve been cooped up for a while.
  20. Buy some flowers.
  21. Raise a plant.
  22. Make a list of things you’d like to accomplish over the week, then spread them out over the week and check them off as you accomplish them.
  23. Meditate daily.
  24. Explore a subject that interests you.
  25. Fill a notebook with upbeat, inspirational quotes and affirmations.
  26. Try a daily affirmation.
  27. Read an upbeat, inspirational devotional.
  28. Add culture to your life; listen to classical music, look into art and find what you like, read good literature, etc.
  29. Declutter.
  30. Take a free online course about something that interests you.
  31. Take a class at the community college or university near you.
  32. For one week, try to improve one area of your life.
  33. Ask friends for suggestions of ways to cheer yourself up.
  34. Ask friends for suggestions of authors to try reading, or books in different genres.
  35. Get some exercise; inactivity breeds emotional troubles.
  36. Invent new reasons to celebrate.
  37. Take a stress-management course.
  38. Give duty a rest for once; put pleasure and happiness first for a little while.
  39. Have dessert for dinner one night.
  40. Have breakfast for dinner one night.
  41. Indulge in your favorite comfort food.
  42. Stop seeing yourself as a victim.
  43. Find a new hobby.
  44. Read a humor book.
  45. Read, read, read.
  46. Get more sleep.
  47. Eat better and drink more water.
  48. Look at your problems from a new perspective.
  49. Realize that the world has seen bigger problems that yours; put yours into perspective.
  50. Do one nice thing each day for yourself.
  51. Make a list of your accomplishments – over the last 10 years, or over your lifetime.
  52. Take care of yourself: floss, exercise, eat better, get more sleep.
  53. Be kind to yourself – as you would to others having a hard time.
  54. Do your best when it is really necessary; give yourself a break at other times.
  55. Be your own cheering section.
  56. Reach out to others when you can’t seem to get out of a rut.
  57. Ask others who have struggled with your issue for guidance or advice.
  58. Join a club.
  59. Try a new approach to your problem, or a new approach to whatever your facing.
  60. Talk to a doctor
  61. Exercise more in general.
  62. Keep a journal and write it out.
  63. Write it out on a piece of paper and burn it or shred it when you are done.
  64. Go for a walk.
  65. Go to the park.
  66. Go to the library for a little peace and quiet.
  67. Try something new to you: a new type of book/magazine, a new recipe, a new cuisine, write a book, write an article, a new craft, and so on.
  68. Try something new every week.
  69. Make time for yourself every day.
  70. Make meals in advance so you just need to warm something up on rough days.
  71. Order in when you need a break.
  72. Delegate household chores when you need a break.
  73. Remember that this too shall pass.
  74. Set up a website and experiment with it.
  75. Make a humor file and file cartoons, quotes, stories, and the like in it. Take it out when you need cheering up.
  76. Remember something funny that happened to you or around you and write about it. Submit to Reader’s Digest.
  77. Don’t sweat the small stuff.
  78. Take a few deep breaths, and relax.
  79. Focus on someone else’s situation for a while. Offer help when you can.
  80. Help out in a soup kitchen or volunteer at a nursing home – or send holiday cards to people in a local nursing home.
  81. Send care packages to soldiers.
  82. Find a cause that means a lot to you and write your congressman.
  83. Give something back to your community: help pick up trash, keep your yard up, make sure your house is repaired, repair public things in your community, volunteer in the community, work on the the home owner’s association, take part in home owner’s association meetings.
  84. Find a women’s shelter and find ways you can help them.
  85. Join a church.
  86. Make a list of 10 people who have bigger problems than you, to gain a little perspective.
  87. Don’t start the morning with the newspaper; there is frequently a lot of “bad” or negative news. Read it later in the day.
  88. Keep yourself busy. Find things to do that you enjoy and focus on them.
  89. Choose your thoughts with care; they can really have an impact.
  90. Windowshop with a friend.
  91. Remember that no one can make you happy except you.
  92. Keep a self-improvement chart or make a journal/notebook for it.
  93. Change your hair color.
  94. Read a book that challenges you or makes you think.
  95. Try crossword puzzles.
  96. Try putting together a puzzle.
  97. Play with a kitten or a puppy.
  98. Go to a zoo.
  99. Visit an aquarium.
  100. Visit a friend.
  101. Set boundaries; if you need peace and quiet, let others around you know.


Filed under Depression, Goals, Lists, Self-Improvement