Kaitlin’s Column: Escaping a rut


Kaitlin Ryan

This week, Kaitlin talks about her newfound love for spending time alone. Trying new things is just one part of this journey of self-love.

Kaitlin Ryan, Arts & Life Editor

We have all been there, a place I would not wish on you even if we were sworn enemies (which we are not, for the record): stuck in a rut. 

A rut is a period of time where we are so deep in our own dread, it seems like we will never be able to climb out. No matter how many times you spiral, you can always find relief from mental health struggles, overwhelming workload, lack of motivation, feeling unlike yourself or whatever personal troubles plague your mind for an extended period of time. 

When you start to feel the clichés to the fullest extent, like you are really “drowning” in work, you may believe that you have reached rock bottom. How do you climb out? Luckily, I have some advice. As someone who has been in a fair share of ruts, I present to you my amateur guide on escaping a negative loop. 

Shaking a spell of sadness starts with acknowledging your emotions, allowing yourself to feel them rather than dismissing or masking them. Write down how you feel. Talk to someone you trust or a mental health professional. Get all the bad out. 

Next, I find it helpful to remember all the things that make you happy. Remember what you are passionate about, even if you do not feel the same giddiness about those things as you once did.

Even if I am in the lowest of lows, simply watering my plants, lighting candles, doing chores around the house or rewatching my favorite movie puts me in a better headspace. 

Maybe the best advice I can give, especially as fall — the superior season in my opinion — is approaching, is to go on walks. Hack your body’s “happy chemicals” and bask in the smell of distant bonfires and muddy leaves. 

It may sound completely impossible –– and I cannot pretend that I always practice what I preach –– but try to limit your time on the social media apps that drain the life force out of you. I made the decision to delete TikTok a few months ago because I spent an absurd amount of time out of my day on the app. While I miss relating to the strange catchphrases and short shelf-life trends, I am much happier without that excess screen time.

Use this time in your rut to take a look inward. Recognize all that you are grateful for, all that you miss about being your happier, more authentic self. Make note of those things. Write them down. 

A relative of mine once gave me words of wisdom, and it corresponds with a great song by Tame Impala, “Let it Happen.” 

When it feels like you are being personally victimized by life, when nothing is going right and everything is too much, just let it happen. You will find your way back to yourself. 

I wish everyone in a dark place right now would find any source of light. Whether it is the rediscovery of an old hobby or a trip home if that is a comfortable environment for you, this too shall pass.