Only the Best Advice: How to Get Out of a Rut

Just keep hangin’ on…

I know ruts, and I know them well.

I used to think of them as bouts of depression. A recent visit to a Vedic Astrologer gave me some perspective.

Then he laughed at me, then he stared at me, and then he told me to be mindful of my addictions because they can take away my will.

So, with respect to those who experience depression-depression, the kind that fares best with therapy and maybe a little somethin’ in pill form—I will only be advising on ruts: Those low periods that are generally and most effectively addressed through acts of willpower.

The Spiritual Rut

Sometimes I feel disconnected from everything. I’m a lonely, abandoned creature far from home and from the people who I’m told will love me no matter what. Then I’m hyper-aware of the fact that if a giant earthquake hits, I’ll die alone. I guess nothing really matters anyway.

That’s the moment when I remember that I gotta work on my relationship with a higher power. I’m alone, but I’m not alone. I’m not gonna get all preachy on you and tell you what to believe in, I’m just suggesting that if and when you feel terribly frightened and alone, try the following:

Then listen to a Pete Holmes podcast, watch a Marianne Williamson video, and make a list of all the things you’re grateful for.

The Creative Inspiration Rut

Everything is stupid, and everything is boring. All music sounds like the same electro-fusion-with a girl gyrating on top of it.

All the movies are too long and have the same actors in them.

Everything on TV is too clever. You’re starting to annoy yourself because you’re so bitter and have all of these opinions on things that don’t even matter, and now you can’t write. You can’t create anything.

You’re this emoji:

Here’s what you do. You go to an indie bookstore. You close your eyes and run your fingers over the spines of all of the books. The beast within will begin to relax–

–and when inspiration hits, you grab a book and you buy the book. It’s time you started to read again.

Hopefully you grabbed something by Geoff Dyer.

Reading is rehab for the burnt-out brain. The creative muscles that have turned into mush from neglect tremble. Suddenly, you’re having unique, exciting thoughts again.

The Food Rut

When I was in college I was part of a group of students called the Peer Health Advocates. I thought it’d be a great way to make friends, but I was wrong. It was a strange group. We spent most of our time “brainstorming.” One of the few things we did do was teach a healthy cooking class for one of the dorms. We taught them how to make quesadillas.

I left the group over philosophical differences. I didn’t believe quesadillas were healthy, and I was unwilling to give up smoking pot.

Anyway, I’ve since changed my tune on the quesadilla. It’s pulled me out of kale salad- and avocado toast-induced hazes several times.

The trick is, you’ve got to fill it with STUFF and use a high fiber tortilla. I’m talking sautéed spinach, avocado, yams, broccoli, caramelized onions, sautéed mushrooms, green pepper, garlic, green onions, etc. I’m talking tofu that’s been cooked in taco seasoning, refried black beans, or mashed up garbanzo beans. I’m talking smoked gouda, classic sharp cheddar, easy-does-it shredded Mexican blend, or feta.

Then smother it with hot sauce, sour cream, greek yogurt, guacamole, or salsa. Garnish it with cilantro.

The Sex Rut

I don’t think I need to go into detail with what I mean here. You’ve seen it on TV and movies; you’ve heard about it in couples therapy. Let’s just dive right into a great idea! Go to a costume shop, the kind that’s open year round and seems a little intimidating. Take a deep breath and scan the walls. Notice which costumes interest you. Lean into this. Maybe, just maybe, you’re actually into role playing. Don’t shy away from the beast leg costume. Just because you think centaurs are hot doesn’t make you a furry. Also, there’s nothing wrong with being a furry. Sex is the coolest because anything, as long as its consensual, goes!

The Career Rut

When you were a kid, you wanted to be a marine biologist or a pop star or a chicken farmer. Then you went to college, and you wanted to be a professor or a psychologist or an engineer. Then you graduated. Now you work in sales at Groupon. You hate your job. You’ve forgotten what you’re even good at.

Stop right there. You gotta go to Barnes and Noble. Raid the self-help section—amass a stack of 10 to 20 books on personality types. The Enneagram is a good one, so is Myers Briggs. When those books get too dense, you’re going to look through a few astrology books. You do not, I repeat, you do not need to buy them.

This exercise should get you fired up. See, we all have super powers, specific strengths that help us fulfill and inform what we were put here on Earth to do. We just forget what they are when we’re worrying about our health insurance and student debt.

Now that we’ve landed on an uplifting note, I’d like to smash everything I just said into smithereens with something my father told me when I called him after a traumatic car accident:

and to put it gentler, the great Ram Dass:

Just keep hangin’ on. Tomorrow always comes.

Thanks, Kindland!

Danielle Leibowitz is a writer and artist who cracks herself up in Los Angeles.
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