Back on Track

Getting Back on Track: 5 Ways to Pull Yourself Out of a Slump

Sometimes life is traveling along quite nicely, then – BANG – for some reason you fall into a slump. You know the signs: low energy, lack of motivation, a don’t-give-a-f attitude and maybe even depression. What is harder to know, however, is how to pull yourself out of such a slump.

Of course one option is to roll with it and hope it wears off. A better option, however, is to implement some strategies that will boost your mood and hopefully get you back on track. I am all too familiar with such slumps, so I would like to share with you the following 5 strategies that I have personally found to be most effective in counteracting them:

1. Ditch the Routine

I enjoy my daily routine, but every so often I need to throw it out the window for the sake of my sanity. Instead of waking at my normal time of 5am, I will turn off my alarm and wake up at my leisure. Or, I might leave my ipod at home and just enjoy the sounds of everyday life as I travel to and from work. Sometimes I even find that acts that are seemingly against best practice – eg getting drunk, eating greasy takeout or lying on the couch watching mindless television – are for some reason psychologically beneficial.

2. Exercise

Exercise is a fantastic way to get out of a slump. It is well known that exercise stimulates various brain chemicals, leaving you happier and more relaxed than before your worked out. And by making you look and feel better, exercise will also help increase your confidence and improve your self-esteem.

3. Do a Good Deed

I always find that doing a good deed for someone else is a win-win act because, apart from helping that person, I am left feeling better about myself. The good deed could be for someone you know – your partner, a friend or a family member. Or, you may choose to volunteer for a good cause and/ or donate to charity. Personally I find that volunteering to help the underprivileged is an especially good way to regain some perspective on life and realize things aren’t so bad after all.

4. Clear Your Mind From Clutter

Mental clutter is a major cause of falling into a rut. Over time all those things that keep getting pushed back – your taxes, replying to an email, servicing the car – can build up and cause you stress, both consciously and unconsciously. You don’t need to necessary do all these tasks to clear your mind. The key is to get them out of your head by writing them down, and then specifying the next action that is required to either complete the task or move it forwards.

5. Completely Change Direction

Sometimes a slump can be brought on by stress related to one particular project or task. These can hijack your thoughts, making it seemingly impossible to think about anything else. When this happens to me, I find it is best to put the task or project aside for a few hours, or even a few days, and do something completely different. It amazing how returning with a new, fresh mindset will allow me to get done in 1-2 hours what may have otherwise taken a whole day if I had continued to struggle along.

Any tips for getting out of a slump? Please share them in the comments below….

Peter writes about how to change your life at The Change Blog. He is also the author of Starting a Blog and Audio Book Downloads.

  • http://www.varsityblah.com/about Eugene (Editor, Varsity Blah)

    I love the idea of changing your routine. As long as you know what you need to do on any given day, it really doesn’t matter what order you do those things in. So why not shake it up? It really does add a little spice when it’s needed.

  • http://www.selfgrowth.com/experts/stanley_f_bronstein_mr_achievement.html MrAchievement.com (Stanley Bronstein)

    Basically, every so often you need something fresh.

    An observation I’ve had over the past few days. Based upon my following of other personal development blogs, I’ve noticed a trend of several of the writers being sort of blah the past few days …

    Their posts, which are normally so positive and frequently posted either turned negative or there were no posts at all.

    I think some people out there are a little burned out at the moment. This excellent post by Peter is great, because it doesn’t jump on anybody and it reminds them to simply get back on track and it tells them how.

    Yes, every so often we all need to just relax and let our spirits recharge.

    For example, yesterday and the day before, I did some gardening. Just a little something different to let my brain relax a bit …

    MrAchievement
    Stanley Bronstein
    Attorney, CPA, Author, Blogger & Professional Motivational Speaker

    • http://www.pickthebrain.com Peter

      I have noticed that too – indeed I have been one of those bloggers feeling a bit blah recently. Initially I continued my routine of waking early and blogging, but on reflection I wasted my time as I would spend an hour or two in front of the computer for the sake of a few sentences.

      This past weekend I slept more than usual, spent a couple hours volunteering and did some exercise outside. This morning, for the first time in awhile, I feel great. And not surprisingly, the words are freely flowing again when last week it seemed as if I was trying to draw blood from a stone.

  • http://www.mysuperchargedlife.com Jeff@My Super-Charged Life

    I like the idea of doing a good deed to pull out of a slump. I find that my slumps are usually caused by tunnel vision on my own little world. Doing something nice for someone else is a great way to get your attention faced outward again and to get a boost of energy to boot. Nice article!

  • Marshall

    Hey, I haven’t been here for a few days because I’ve been finishing school finals. I’ve been in a bit of a slump lately, so this post is spot on.

    I especially liked the first point. I’m a big fan of routines, so usually when I get into a slump I’ll notice that my routines are falling apart. At that point, I’ll try to get back into the routine, thinking that that will get me out of the slump.

    Maybe my problem is that I need a break from the monotony. I’ll definitely be trying this in the near future.

    Thanks for the insight.

  • http://www.etavitom.com etavitom

    Going for a walk is great! Thanks for the wisdom…

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  • http://lifeology101.blogspot.com Ayesha Lone

    I learned this tip recently from a segment I did on the Oprah Winfrey show with Marcus Buckingham. Journal for a week. Write down activities that drain you, make you feel weak. Also write down things that make you feel strong, you look forward to, time flies when you do them. If you’re in a slump, you’ll see that the reason may be because you are spending the majority of your time on activitie that are draining you…leaving you with no energy and no motivation. Slowly, start spending more of your time on the activities that you enjoy doing. Even if it’s just making one change a week. This was a powerful tool for me to help me move back into the right direction.

    Ayesha
    http://Lifeology101.blogspot.com

  • http://celestinechua.com/blog/ Celestine Chua

    Hey Peter! Great article and I love the 5 tips you have shared in this article. I’ll like to provide a 6th tip, which is to simply take a break. I was recently in a slump a few months ago (I wrote about it my blog (http://celestinechua.com/blog/2010/01/why-we-have-slumps-and-how-to-get-out-of-them/) and I realized it was because I had not given myself proper rest. Many of us, myself included, have the tendency to go on and on without resting which leads us to fall into a slump. I decided to give myself the proper rest, and after I did that I was more ready to get to action.

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    You need to take part in a contest for probably the greatest blogs on the web. I will recommend this web site!

  • Thomasfowler2010

    Ive turned into someone i dont even know i went to prison for a crime i didn’t do lost my marriage and home reputation i don’t see no way out i just want to give up

    • helloMeghan33

      Don’t give up! Keep your head up. I know it can be difficult to believe in sometimes but everything happens for a reason. I myself have to work hard onnot giving up at times too after some of the very large obsticles that have been thrown infront of me. Just remember that you matter and you’ll get out of this funk sooon as long as you stay as positive as you can!!! Force yourself to smile its contageous, so you’ll make someone else smile and when you see that it might make you feel a little better. (It won’t fix things but it will be a good place to start!)

  • kymm.

    love ittt

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  • Nataliewattenb

    I have moved from Johannesburg South Africa to New York for a few months to sort out my life after losing my fiancee to suicide…

  • Trav1970

    Decent Destiny
    Only you can influence your own fate, get rid of all things that you hate –
    do it now although it is never too late.
    You need to be happy we only get one chance, know what is
    needed at first glance.
    To help start by giving self belief a turn, banish laziness with yourself you must be
    stern. Here are a few of life language lessons to learn.
    When you awake you need to stoke the fire which will also
    help you lose that spare tyre.
    Keep in mind you are what you eat, stay active remain on your
    feet – try to get plenty of well earned sleep.
    No curling in a corner – hold up your head-try stretching
    when you first get out of bed.
    Being content is not just down to luck. Eat every 3 hours keeping energy levels up-
    rehydrate drink 5 more than a 200ml cup!
    Tabata workouts keep you cool trendy and hip. Get over those things that may make you gip.
    Take responsibility of your life right now, you are not helpless so don’t have a cow.
    In the morning when your vitality is high – do the important things – go on give it a try.
    You see getting jobs done will soon satisfy – that is the way we work don’t ask me why!
    Now and then – as a reward we need to self gratify-but don’t make self gratification your default or you may find your vavavoom come to a halt.
    Relax take a stroll – put on those walking shoes, do not turn to alcohol – lay off that bargain booze, with the demon drink it is only you who’ll lose.
    Be kind to yourself and look after your health. Nothing is as lousy as the fear itself.
    Fess up to your Emotions you will feel better for it, no point feeling sick to bottom of your pit.
    Improving ourselves leaves less time to knock others. Show your love to friends and lovers.
    Be enthusiastic of their success with sisters or brothers, talk health and happiness to fathers and mothers!
    You’ll have a sense of accomplishment if you’ve achieved. Accept things the way they are and feel relieved.
    Don’t admit defeat then you know you won’t be beat. There is nothing worse than being down and deplete.
    Your values give you the most powerful fuel- Knowing what you stand for is a unique tool!
    There is nothing better than feeling fulfilled, try to be strong if you are weak willed.
    Remember nothing is ever as bad as it may seem. Sort out – Make clear – Spring Clean
    Recharge those batteries and take a day away – variety is the spice of life or so they say.
    Occasionally we may need a change of scene though it really is the best thing to keep in routine- If you know what you’re doing every single hour – you’ll find that automatic needs no will power.
    Those crystals or chakras can’t help you at the mo-only you can stop yourself from getting low.
    For confidence stick to what you know. Don’t waste time and vitality on a no-goal.
    If what’s needed is a kick up the backside then focus on the future don’t go shy and hide.
    We need to feel fulfilment to be satisfied. So just go with the flow and enjoy the ride.
    Always greet with a smile never a frown-if something is daunting then break it down.
    Try to do one thing at a time then when you’ve finished you’ll feel mighty fine.
    Refocus – no over thinking just get on, none of us like to do things wrong.
    Take things step by step- day by day. Avoid temptation and get out of harm’s way.
    I know that self care can make you feel good – so get some Oomph you know you should.
    Always try to have a master plan – this has worked since time began.
    Make a list and always prioritise. Believe in better and aim for first prize.
    Here are the last of my self help tips to assist you over those Minor Blips.
    Look on the bright side make optimism come true, have self worth- best to believe in you.
    Learn to get self assured-don’t be so scared. A problem halved is one that is shared.
    Stress can zap you so just chill out – keep calm please do not scream or shout.
    I hope this guides all to Get a Grip and find the confidence to Just Do It.
    Our eyes look forward so we don’t dwell on what’s behind. Let your strength keep your peace of mind.
    In a Decent Destiny you will find-
    that there are no rants to make you unwind-
    we all need a little less bump and grind!

    TravsTales

  • Trav1970

    Live Life Love Life
    Think toward the future please don’t dwell on the past
    Live each night and day as if they were your last
    If we take advice from those who know-
    It may stop us feeling way too low.
    Wear a smile every single day.
    This keeps the doldrums at bay.
    We should always have a P.M.A
    Positive Mental Attitude-come what may
    Relax-stay calm just chill or meditate.
    Trust in good karma, fortune and fate.
    Be comfy and neat in what you wear.
    Make sure you have good groomed hair
    Get off your butt – don’t lack motivation
    Don’t be small minded-find inspiration
    Re-cycle don’t waste-look after our earth
    Believe in you-always have that self worth
    Expand your comfort zone and go with flow
    Be optimistic remember negatives are a no-no
    Clear your clutter and have a deep clean
    Never hold a grudge its malicious being mean
    Learn to be confident and have good self esteem.
    Progression is the key so start something new
    Pursue your passion-choose those things you like to do
    Ladies could learn a language – Or maybe men might do martial arts
    Having a hobby is when your spirits lift and your talent starts
    Think about your actions and contrive the consequence
    Try not to make mistakes – keep a clear conscience
    Circumstances can confuse us so learn to take control
    Focus on all what’s needed to aim for that goal
    Don’t be so serious – a laugh is good for the soul
    Be considerate and courteous to all those we meet
    Always walk on the sunny side of the street
    Reward yourself you deserve the odd treat
    Don’t forget never ever admit defeat!
    Live for the moment and be as a child
    Efficiency saves energy so tame the wild
    Feels fab when we help someone in need
    So be selfless and go do a good deed
    Try and eat healthy wholesome food.
    What we put in can alter our mood!
    Make time to cook your favourite buns
    Get together with loved ones
    Show your affection give a hug
    Watch a film and get all snug
    If we sweat all the small stuff-
    our lives can become too tough-
    or develop into being really rough.
    We all have to live our lives
    For us to get a natural highs
    We should all love our lives

    TravsTales

  • Trav1970

    Feel Fine Rhyme
    Do you find you want to feel “up-beat”
    Be more in control – not full of defeat?
    This Rhyme is here to show us how.
    Take a shot of these small steps right now
    Firstly don’t rush things try to slow down-
    Always wear a smile never a frown
    Do a good deed-maybe give up our seat-
    gives off good vibes to all we meet
    Treat yourself and others just right
    Get plenty of well earned sleep at night
    Then all this won’t be such a Plight
    Try not to put on too much weight
    There’s no room here for self hate
    Be at one with nature’s blue sky -
    put a spring in our step and give dance a try
    Work-outs release endorphins to the brain.
    Some say there’s no gain without pain!
    Don’t fail to dare instead dare to fail,
    this may stop us going off the rail
    Why worry-just take it in your stride
    Eat healthy snacks to keep us satisfied
    There’s a food for moods guide
    This will all help to get us Motivated
    Not make us feel down and deflated
    Give ourselves some brain train
    No time now for being mundane
    Take a bath or shower-get revitalised
    Go to the shops and find some bargain buys
    Speak the truth we’ll feel confident and heard
    Get organised being chaotic is absurd
    Have a Positive Mental Attitude -word
    Think of others before ourself – continue being kind.
    Decorate with tranquil colours as we find-
    It has an effect on our body and mind
    Start a hobby or something to help you unwind
    Create wonderful memories do incredible things
    Don’t dwell on the past but live like kings
    Always compliment and show that we care,
    stand tall and take pride in what we wear
    Clear all clutter-it only hampers our head-
    Motivational quotes are there to be read
    Run to a schedule – try not to be late
    Get things done – don’t procrastinate
    Making more time for felicitous fun,
    maybe a picnic outdoors-soak up some sun
    Keep yourself and things neat and clean-
    Your world will stay soothed and serene
    Chillax, keep calm – stay reem,
    Doc’s say it’s dandy to daydream
    Touch is transformational so have a massage
    Listen to music and live it large
    Look for the positive things each day,
    be thankful in life come what may
    Banish Bad Karma – keep morose at bay-
    Please remember to continue with a P.M.A.

    TravsTales

  • ud6

    I left the UK to live in Portugal to get over my mother’s death and separation with fiancé (which happened at the same time). Was a fantastic decision, although now I have left Portugal due to impossibly low wage. I think stability is an illusion.. enjoy it while it lasts!

  • ecstreet

    These are all, basically, commonsensical suggestions that we tend to forget and of which we need to constantly remind ourselves. I found tips 4 & 5 to resonate for me–as I am someone who enjoys change and have discovered that I go into slumps when I’m under the gravity of clutter from too much familiarity (i.e. 9 to 5 job routine or the build-up of small chores that have been left undone). I found tip #3 to not work for me at all. When my engine (a.k.a. spirit) is in a slump and I try helping someone feel better about themselves, I almost inevitably feel worse because it’s coming from emptiness. Kind of like giving what you yourself don’t have–like trying to lend money when your bankrupt. I would instead suggest that doing a kindness ought to come from a place of authenticity rather than a sense of “this is going to make me feel better”. You may find yourself disappointed and more spent than before the “act” of kindness. Ayesha Lone’s comment hits the mark for me “…start spending more of your time on the activities that you enjoy doing.” If “activities you enjoy doing” means helping others, then by all means find a cause that excites you. Otherwise, for me anyway, that means singing a new song!

  • Nambrose

    Hello I have always had trouble with getting things done I feel like everything can be a drag but I know how important it is do things on time because its a life skill. Also I feel like my grades are slipping, Does anyone have any advice? Thanks