Imagine one sunny day you are out for a relaxing Sunday drive, enjoying the Ontario countryside and all that nature has to offer. Blissfully reminiscing on days and memories gone by and those still to come. It’s mid-July and so your windows are down with the radio playing softly in the background. The wind howls as it rushes by your open windows, as if the outside world around you, the very nature you have come to admire, is saying hello. As you drive whilst taking in this calming experience, there is but one simple word that can sum up this feeling you have deep inside, contentment.

Now imagine while on this tour of the countryside the road you are traveling quickly starts to turn into what seems to be an unmaintained mess. Potholes start to become apparent and then get worse, the pavement is quickly exchanged for loose gravel/dirt, and dense forest is starting to encroach upon the trail you are now traveling on. You are left with two options (whether you recognize it in the moment or not): Forge ahead and see what lies further down the trail or turn around and retreat to known safety. Being the adventurous type we both know you are you continue forward. Undeterred by the growing gloom of the scene around you-you drive ahead until you notice something’s not quite right. Your speedometer is reading 10 km/h yet the trees outside appear to be static; stuck in their place and not moving as one would expect to see whilst in a traveling vehicle. Now either one of two things have happened in this scenario, these trees are walking beside you or you have become stuck! In the event of the former vacate the area as soon as possible ensuring to contact your local scientist and/or Ghostbusters squad! Assuming however you have become stuck read on to see what we can do to mitigate and resolve this problem.

If you haven’t noticed yet I am using a peaceful Sunday drive as an analogy for our travels along life’s path. Similar to our troublesome journey described above we can sometimes become stuck in a rut on our journey through life and oftentimes it’s something we don’t see coming. Now you may wonder how having a stuck vehicle is remotely similar to being stuck in what feels like a rut in your life, especially in the context of getting unstuck, and to this question I promise to provide a correlation. First however let’s define what a rut in our life may look like. Oxford defines it as “a habit or pattern of behavior that has become dull and unproductive but is hard to change.” aka stuck. Now some of the granular symptoms of a life rut are things like the feeling of just being “meh”, not looking forward to your daily routine, a feeling of not being productive, etc. This is actually something I have recently experienced myself, but more on that a little later on.

Growing up in rural Port Hope I was given the innate ability to navigate tricky off-road conditions. While at first it was more so doing what I was shown, as I grew older I began to understand why the skills I was taught to traverse these trails worked the way they did. I thus began to compile a list of “rules” that, if executed, would allow even the most unskilled driver to cross the deepest of mud.

Jordan’s Rules for Off-Road Navigation

1.  Never take your foot (or finger) of the throttle. Momentum lost takes twice the power to regain. (For those of you who are physics fans this is not meant to be a literal Newtonian excerpt so don’t be offended!)

Life Translation: When you start to happen upon times that may seem bleak don’t give up that drive within you. Some days it may be tough to find but don’t let up on your momentum.

2. Never let the motor quit. This one is imperative, especially when trudging deep water or mud, for once the engine quits it is a task in itself to get started again. The technical reason for this is that heat and exhaust prevent water from entering through the likely submerged exhaust system. Once the engine quits water can rush in and flood the engine.

Life Translation: No matter what don’t shut down, while the situation may be difficult it is never impossible. 

3. Not getting any movement? Crank the steering wheel/handlebar back and forth. This allows the wheels to search for traction.

Life Translation: Find your daily routine boring? Switch it up! Go do something different like yoga, reading, or take a course in something interesting!

4. You gotta rock to roll. Rocking back and forth will give the vehicle some needed movement to help gain some momentum & traction.

Life Translation: Don’t be afraid to rock the boat, shake up your life! While this is similar to #3, sometimes it takes even more drastic rocking to get that momentum back. Did someone say weekend vacation?

5. Last but not least, if you find yourself in too deep of a situation, never be afraid to ask for help.

Life Translation: Sometimes what may at first seem like just a little rut may turn out to be something way deeper than we initially thought. In those situations it’s imperative we reach out to others for a little helping hand. Talking to a friend, family member, or spouse or in situations where more help is required reaching out to a professional.

These are just some of the many different techniques available to liven things up and get you back in motion. After dealing with a life rut myself recently I was able to overcome it by changing things up and moving forward. Just remember, after the rut often comes wide open roads and blue skies once again.

P.S: Experiencing a mental health crisis? Reach out to Four County Crisis for free 24/7 assistance for any mental health issue you are experiencing. Remember it’s always ok to ask for a little helping hand.