Feeling stuck

Why do we feel stuck?

Sometimes, after the holidays or after a period of trying to not think about a difficult situation, it’s common to experience feelings of sadness, helplessness or being stuck. It may be that we have been wanting to change career or city or do something about our relationship, and finding ourselves in the same place after a few months of blissful oblivion can be disheartening.

Feeling stuck can elicit uncomfortable thoughts. For example, it can make us question our self-worth (“I’m lazy for not doing anything about my situation yet”) or can make us feel overwhelmed and lacking in motivation. Regardless of how it manifests itself, we often end up feeling bad – which makes the return to reality harder than it should be.

What can you do about it?

Although you likely won’t change your situation with a snap of your fingers, there are many small things that you can do to alleviate some of the negative feelings and to ensure that you don’t fall into the trap of questioning self-worth. The easy tips below will also give you some clarity which will empower you to make a move if that’s what you need. Try them out!!

Make a list of priorities

Do this when you’re feeling stuck

  • This sounds silly, but it really helps to regroup and think about your hopes, dreams and priorities
  • What do you want your life to look like in five years? What do you want to be spending your time on?
  • We sometimes get lost feeling that we aren’t achieving what we want, but we can’t put a finger on what we are striving for or why we’re frustrated
  • Making a list will really help to figure things out and will be the first step towards making some changes in the right direction

Don’t compare yourself to an imaginary standard

Do this when you’re feeling stuck

  • Are you feeling frustrated because you’re not doing what you love or because you think you’re not where you should be?
  • Once you have your list of priorities, think about this question
  • The distinction between really wanting something and thinking you should want it is very important
  • Standards we impose on ourselves can be stressful, especially if they are not aligned with our priorities
  • Maybe you really do want a change, but recognising this is key

Dig a little deeper

Do this when you’re feeling stuck

  • The feeling of being stuck can be accompanied by a feeling of general helplessness around life and about our abilities
  • These feelings are usually intensified when we’re not feeling good about ourselves, or when we’re stressed
  • Feeling stuck can sometimes be caused by deep-rooted feelings, so rather than trying to push them away, why not ask yourself: “How am I really feeling?”
  • Once you know what the problem is, you can start doing something about it!

Surround yourself with inspiring people

Do this when you’re feeling stuck

  • This sounds really obvious, but sometimes when we feel stuck and helpless we just need to hear a success story for a little bit of encouragement
  • Seek out clubs with people who have similar values to you, or read books on people who have achieved what you want
  • Seeing other people who have succeeded and hearing their stories can help you to feel inspired and give you the inspiration that you need to make the first step
  • While you’re doing this however, remember that things are not always what they appear: if it feels like reading success stories is counter-productive because it makes you feel like everyone is achieving things easily while you aren’t, remind yourself that you don’t always know the full story

Ground yourself

Do this for five minutes every day

  • The problem with feeling stuck is that it can elicit negative feelings about ourselves and send us into a spiral of negative thinking, which further paralyses us and keeps us far from our goal
  • The key to this is to take our mind out of our thoughts and into the present, so that we can gain perspective and clarity on the next steps:
    • Sit comfortably with your feet firmly planted on the floor
    • Push your feet against the floor as hard as possible and notice the physical feeling of this
    • Touch something – a pet, a set of keys, a phone, whatever! – and notice the feeling of the object against your fingertips

Breathe

Do this for five minutes every day

  • Another way to take your attention away from negative thoughts and into the present is a simple breathing exercise
  • Like grounding, this will stop you focusing on the negative cycle and instead will give you the clarity you need:
    • Sit and observe your breathing for 5-10 minutes when you wake up – you don’t have to do anything to change it, just observe it
    • This will put the focus on something physical rather than your thoughts and will instantly help to make you feel better

Speak to a therapist

Do this if you feel like you are having trouble with these feelings

  • Speaking to a therapist sounds scary, but it really isn’t!
  • A therapist can give you a fresh perspective on what you want and can help you to figure out what’s holding you back from achieving your dreams

Do something you love

Always do this

  • Make sure that you are doing something other than commuting from home to work and back
  • Find an activity which fulfils you and stick to it. For some it might be sports, for others volunteering in the community. Whatever it is make sure you do it regularly
  • This really helps to channel your energy away from stressors and into something that makes you happy
  • It will also help you to take the focus off your negative thoughts and will give you clarity on what and how you want to change your life

Focus on gratitude

Always do this

  • This sounds hippy but it works!
  • Every night, before you go to sleep, list five good things that happened during the day (it can be anything, even if it made you feel good for a second)
  • Doing this daily will help you realise that although you might feel stuck right now, there are many things in life to be thankful for
  • It will also train your mind to recognise the positives and focus less on negative thoughts about yourself

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