Has Your Routine Turned Into a Rut?

Written by on February 22, 2021 in Self-Awareness, Self-Care

Has Your Routine Turned Into a Rut

With very few exceptions, we all have routines we follow every day – get out of bed, exercise, take a shower, make coffee – drink the coffee, fix breakfast – eat the breakfast, get dressed, walk the dog, drive the same route to work.

For many people there is comfort and security in following their daily routine, I know a man who has eaten the same lunch (tuna fish sandwich on white bread, one hardboiled egg, and an apple) every day for the past twenty years!

But comfortable or not we occasionally need to remind ourselves that there are nearly as many downsides to keeping a routine as there are benefits.

For one thing over time following repetitive routines has a way of slipping into a full-fledged rut; keeping you effectively busy and functioning without actually thinking … or growing.

If you’ve been feeling like your life is on pause, it may be time to shake-up a few of your daily routines.

Climbing out of the Rut

It’s possible to not even recognize that you’re stuck in a rut because it’s surprisingly easy to become anesthetized by the habit of repeatedly doing things the same way.

But if you find yourself feeling low on energy and experiencing vague unhappiness then it’s worth taking a closer look at your routines.

Keep in mind you don’t necessarily have to throw away a routine; it may well be enough to periodically adjust it.

Recognize the Problem

The old saying about recognizing that you have a problem is half the battle certainly applies here.

When you’re in a rut you tend to do things slower, your productivity begins to decline and you may experience a general lack of self-awareness about your feelings, actions, and motivations.

For example, whenever you have a moment that’s not filled with some kind of stimulation do you automatically reach for your device to check social media to fill the space, endlessly scrolling without really engaging?

Maybe you keep checking things off your task list, but it still doesn’t feel like you’re making progress.

Or your days all blur together, and it’s not weird to look up blinking and ask, “Is this Tuesday or Thursday?”

Take Inventory

Ruts can affect every area of your life from what you eat, to the way you spend your leisure time and even your commitments.

It’s not at all uncommon for people to continue fulfilling obligations long after they have lost their meaning or usefulness simply because they have become a habitual part of their life.

Invest some time to take inventory of your routines and obligations. Try to undertake this exercise with a sense of curiosity rather than judgment.

Priorities will naturally shift over time as our lives change so it’s important to continually assess your motivations and where you are choosing to give your time and energy.


Ruts come in all shapes and sizes. We find a place, situation, or behavior that provides us with comfort, and we settle in for the long haul.

But sometimes a rut is a symptom of something deeper, some aspect of your life that you are having difficulty facing, like a dysfunctional situation or relationship that is easier to tolerate than to change.

The easiest way to justify clinging to a rut, in this case, is to tell yourself that you have no choice so you’re just making the best of the situation.

You always have a choice. Yes, acceptance is one of them, but you owe it to yourself to muster the courage to be really honest with yourself about whether you’re avoiding worthwhile options out of fear.

Make Small Changes

Just because you’ve awakened to a few habits that qualify as ruts here and there doesn’t mean that you have to turn your life upside down to improve the situation.

Any habit can be turned into a meaningful ritual that will break the pattern of what you normally do and bringing deliberate intention and focus to the process will have a remarkably beneficial effect.

If you usually eat your lunch hunched over your computer, get outside and take a walk in the fresh air. If your typical morning routine includes a quick cup of coffee as you dash out the door, try waking up an hour early and spend the extra time doing something for yourself.

You could exercise, meditate, or spend some time reading, or even talking with your family.

Instead of automatically flipping on the TV in the evenings, try creating a ritual around journaling or enjoying a soothing cup of tea while reading something inspirational.

Once in a while, plan a change of scenery. Go somewhere or do something that interrupts your established patterns and kicks your mind and spirit into a different gear.

Honor Your Emotions

As you work your way through and out of your rut, don’t deny or bottle up your emotions. Instead, experience them fully. If you feel frustrated or need to cry or yell out in rage, then just do it and then move on.

Remember, each experience in your life – the good, the bad, and even the ugly – is inherently an opportunity for growth.

So determine to learn all you can from your current situation so you can move on as a stronger, more confident version of yourself.

People find themselves in ruts all the time. You’re in a complacent lifestyle where you work 9 to 5 and then you add a mortgage and kids. You feel trapped, but guess what? You constructed that life. If you’re okay with it, there’s nothing wrong with that. But if you’re not, then it’s up to you to change it.

~Jeremy Renner

The Takeaway

No matter how active a person you may be you’re bound to have some routines, and there’s nothing wrong with that.

Routines help to keep our minds free of clutter and allow us to move forward.

Routines themselves aren’t the issue; it’s about making sure that your routine is continually guiding you forward rather than keeping you stuck in a daily habit that dulls your mind and senses or masks deeper issues that are preventing you from happiness and showing up in life.

Will you be the passenger or the driver in your life journey?
About Marquita A. Herald

Marquita Herald

Marquita is an author, resilience coach, and founder of Emotionally Resilient Living. She’s also an unapologetic workaholic who loves red wine, rock n’ roll, road trips (and car dancing!), peanut butter cookies, and (especially) a dog named Lucy.

She’s saddened and frustrated by excuses and cruelty and believes authentic compassion is the most powerful force in the world.

To learn more about Marquita and the mission of Emotionally Resilient Living Start Here.

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