Life has been weird for nearly a year. COVID has had us stuck at home, many of us in fear for our health or the health of loved ones, and most of our normal activities have either have halted or been greatly altered. Now, months into things, I hear people talking about feeling stuck.
Feeling stuck, being in a rut, or however you describe it is crummy. It’s stifling, you can’t move forward, you feel like you should, but you don’t know how. Living like this for too long can cause feelings of discontent, anxiety, and even depression.
So, you should just shake it off and get moving, right? If only it were that easy. No, getting unstuck can be a difficult process of where and how to start. But if you are going to move forward you have to find a way.
Why We Get Stuck
Before we can get unstuck it’s helpful to understand why we get stuck in the first place and what it means.
Being stuck is a description we use when we are no longer moving forward, or when we think we should be in a place we’re not. When your life isn’t what you think it should be and you can’t see yourself making progress, what are you? Yep, you’re stuck.
Stuck can mean you feel like there are no options, like there’s nothing you can do to alter your situation, or at least nothing that will make it better. And when you’re unhappy and can’t see any way out of it is it any wonder that you’d become depressed?
Being stuck for too long can also mean that you lose your motivation to change things. Psychologically your stuck situation starts to feel like a “new normal.” Sound familiar?
Where We Can Get Stuck
COVID hit us like a truck coming from our blind spot and everyone’s “normal” came to a screeching halt and then took and abrupt left turn. For better or worse we each had to adjust, and largely we all did. Then we waited. And waited. And pretty soon we all started to feel stuck. One day blurred into the next, all the regular touchpoints and milestones faded or were lost, and sweatpants or pajama bottoms became acceptable work attire (as long as your camera is filming waist up).
But it doesn’t take a pandemic to make people feel stuck. In fact, we’ve all probably had that feeling before in one way or another. Your job isn’t going anywhere, days are all the same, or – and this is one I hear about a lot – your relationship is in a rut.
Remember what I said in the beginning about being stuck? It comes from feeling like we should be in a place that we’re not and not knowing how to get there.
When you’re feeling stuck in your relationship, you’re feeling dissatisfied with what’s happening and unhappy about your situation. It may be that you miss the passion of the early stages of things, or that you haven’t made time for each other and you’ve become disconnected. In extreme situations it may even mean that you’re in an abusive relationship and have no idea how to get out or make it change.
No matter the case, if you are feeling any of this it’s time to get unstuck.
Ways To Get Unstuck
Romantic relationships are famous for getting stuck and leaving people feeling bored, wanting change, or wanting out. Unfortunately, too many couples hit this point in their relationship and assume that if they’re stuck, the love must be gone, and things are over.
That’s not generally the case though.
Just like you’ll need to find ways to get out of the COVID induced rut that you may be in, if your relationship has become stagnate, you’ll need to find ways to change that too. The two things aren’t that dissimilar.
So, let’s take a look at some ideas that can help you jump start your relationship, your life, or both, out of being stuck.
- Find something to enjoy. Yes, you’re stuck and want things to change. But the likelihood is that things aren’t all bad. Whether it’s the extra time in the morning or the fact that you can count on watching the same, favorite TV show with your partner, there are small joys in every situation. So, acknowledge those and decide if you want to preserve them as you make changes.
- Take the lead. No one is going to walk up and invite you to enjoy a more exciting life. And if someone does, I suggest you be very wary. Nope, if you want change you are going to have to create it, so find a way to do that.
- Start small. As you begin the process, however, you’ll want to start small(ish). For instance, don’t go from feeling dissatisfied to quitting your job and moving out of the country on a whim for instance. Or decide that your husband is too boring and leave him. Both of those are large, life altering changes that require a lot of consideration and time to determine if they’re the right choice. Instead, consider resuming activities that make you happy in some form, like finding a new hobby to share with your partner, or getting out of town for a weekend. A small thing that breaks the cycle you’ve become stuck in will make way for other, more exciting changes.
- Lose the fear. One thing that happens when people become stuck is that they also become afraid of change. Look at it this way – things don’t get better by doing nothing. If you want something to change, you’ll need to push through the fear and start the process.
- Be creative. Although starting small is a good idea, that doesn’t mean it has to be boring. Get out of your comfort zone a bit and get creative. Relationship stuck on repeat? Create a romantic backyard picnic, find a place that rents canoes and go on a canoe ride, or drive to a part of town you’ve never really explored and walk around taking fun and funky pictures of each other. Need to shake up your daily routine? Try volunteering somewhere, supporting a local business by using a service you’ve never tried, or just taking a road trip. Using your imagination to make some small, sustainable, and engaging changes can be invigorating.
On a COVID note, it’s also important to look for the signs of progress. Regardless as to your feelings about the vaccine, it’s presence signals a step toward resuming the best parts of the “old” normal. Making mental note of any positives that signal an opportunity to get the world unstuck (or at least your world) can give you hope and create the right kind of psychological changes.
If it’s your relationship that feels stuck, don’t give up. Relationships have cycles and often those cycles autocorrect overtime. However, if you’re feeling like one cycle is stuck and needs a push then by all means, give it a push.