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Five Ways to Beat a Rut

By Emily Childress

Note: I am not in any way a mental health professional. If you think what you’re feeling may be more serious than a rut, please seek out your campus’ mental health resources. You can find William & Mary’s at https://www.wm.edu/offices/wellness/resources/mentalhealth/index.php

            Ah, ruts. The inevitable pitfalls of life. Nothing is wrong but… nothing is right either. You just feel stuck, bored, and in between phases of your life. Everyone experiences ruts in one way or another, and let’s be honest- they suck. Luckily, as a self-declared rut pro, I have quite a few tips and tricks for how to get out of them. 

1.Change something

Okay, so, confession: if I don’t change something up every few months, I go crazy. I’ve had six hair colors in the span of three years (and that was me with self-control). While you don’t have to jump off the deep end with hair color, changing something up can make you feel refreshed. Maybe it’s as simple as painting your nails a different color than you usually do or trying out a new clothing style. Or maybe it’s getting those bangs you’ve been debating. Whatever it is, changing something will make you feel like a new person, and that is step one to getting out of a rut.

2.Clean, clean, clean

I am sure this next step will be met with a little less enthusiasm. But oftentimes in ruts, things like cleaning fall on the backburner, in favor of staring at a wall for hours and contemplating how bored you are. Dust the top of that shelf you always forget about, vacuum the rug that’s probably gone unvacuumed for too long, go through your fridge and take out all the expired stuff. I promise, you’ll feel better afterwards.

3.Do all that stuff you’ve been meaning to do but haven’t

Everyone has that list, whether tangible or just taking up brain space. It’s that list of all the things you’ve been meaning to do, but you just haven’t. Call your dentist and make an appointment. Reorganize your junk drawer. Do your laundry. Go to Target and don’t forget shampoo this time. You don’t realize what a weight some of that stuff can be on your shoulders until the weight isn’t there anymore. Do what you have to do and get your business done.

4.Pick up a new hobby

Look, I get it. College kids are busy bees and there isn’t really a whole lot of time in between class and homework and extracurriculars and part-time jobs and internships. It doesn’t have to be something big. Maybe it’s finally learning how to french braid your own hair or listening to a true crime podcast on your walk to class. Whatever it is, if it brings you happiness or makes you feel accomplished, mission complete.

5.Find something to look forward to

Part of the problem with ruts is that you just feel stuck. Having something to look forward to can help tremendously with this. Try researching a subscription service that sends you a package to expect once a month with fun surprises. Decide that you really like open-mic nights at that local coffee shop and make it a habit to go out with your friends there at least once a month. As long as it’s something that gets you excited about getting through the week, it’s working.

Emily Childress is a freshman at The College of William & Mary and is from Haymarket, Virginia. She is also an English major in the Joint Degree Programme with the University of St. Andrews. In her free time she loves to read, write, and drink coffee. She is a big supporter of mom jeans, dogs, and Harry Potter.
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