How to get out of a depressive rut (7 Tips)

In this guide we will be discussing some of the steps you can take to get out of a depressive rut. 

We will also explore how you can differentiate between a rut and a depressive episode so that you can get yourself  the help you need. 

What are some steps you can take to get out of a rut?

If you find that you are struggling to get excited or engage with your daily life and the goals you have set out for yourself, it could be that you are experiencing a rut.

Here are a few things you can do to help yourself get out of a rut:

  • Seek out professional help
  • Practice self-care
  • Identify the cause
  • Take responsibility
  • Change your routines
  • Find purpose
  • Make plans
  • Appreciate the little things
  • Take small steps of change

Now, the steps you take to get out of this rut depends on what is causing this rut- it could be because of day-to-day stressors and at the same time it could be because of a mental health disorder that has been left unattended to. 

Let us look at some signs you need to pay attention to in order to differentiate whether you are depressed or simply stuck in life that is causing this rut. 

Signs you’re stuck in a rut vs. a depressive episode

The difference between being “stuck” momentarily versus feeling stuck as a part of being depressed is that depression is a mental health condition that is pervasive and might have biological factors that drive the dysfunction. 

When you are depressed or have clinical depression, it impacts your life in all areas- your job, your relationships, your sense of self and your physical health. It can cause distress and dysfunction on most days than not- for more than two weeks- which makes it difficult for you to go about your day to day life. 

However, when you are stuck in a situation it does ot necessarily mean that is impacting your entire life and the distress you feel might not cause you to leave your job, or even cause problems in your relationship. 

Let us look at a few signs that indicate that you are stuck in a rut.

  • Every day seems the same.
  • You feel like your routine is too mundane. 
  • You don’t feel excited or inspired.
  • You feel unmotivated and just live life day to day.
  • You feel unfulfilled and dissatisfied.
  • You want to change, but fear change.
  • You aren’t able to get started on the things you want to do.

A lot of these signs have to do with your perception about your life and the direction it is going. It might cause stress and sleeplessness but it does not cause wide dysfunction as depression might. 

Depression also known as Major depressive disorder is a major mental health disorder that is caused by a myriad of factors and has the biological basis of its onset. 

Some of the symptoms of depression according to the DSM-V, which must persist for more days than nor for at least two weeks to be diagnosed include:

  • Depressed mood, sadness
  • Loss of interest or pleasure in activities you once enjoyed
  • Significant weight loss when not dieting, or significant weight gain 
  • Inability to sleep or excessive sleeping
  • Restlessness or irritation
  • Fatigue or loss of energy
  • Feelings of worthlessness, or excessive or inappropriate guilt
  • Difficulty thinking or concentrating, or indecisiveness
  • Recurrent thoughts of death or suicide 

Whether you are stuck in a rut or you have been affected by clinical depression, it is necessary that you get yourself the help you need because your rut, if left unattended might cause stress, anxiety, and eventually develop into depression.

Steps you can take to help yourself

Here are a few things you can do to get yourself out of a rut or help yourself cope with depression:

Seek out professional help

It doesn’t matter if you are depressed or if you are simply experiencing a rut in your life due to a lack of direction. Seeking professional help to help you understand what is happening to you is the best step you can take to help yourself.

If you have identified depression as a possible cause, you can meet a doctor to identify your condition. The doctor can access you and direct you to the right physician who can help you get treatment. 

Your prescribing physician can also get you the pharmacological treatment you need or even refer you to a therapist to deal with what is causing you so much distress and cope with depression symptoms. 

Take Care of Yourself

Self-compassion is very important when it comes to mental wellness. As part of your journey to help yourself recover, and get out of this feeling of being stuck- doing things that involve taking care of your physical, mental, and social aspects is important. 

You can start by assessing what you have been doing or not doing when it comes to self care and whatever is lacking, address it. Eat well, sleep well, do things that bring you joy, and this also includes getting the rest you need.

Reflect on the cause

If you’re stuck in a rut, examining why can be a way to help yourself out of it. Self Exploration and developing insight into your situation can be a helpful way to yield answers as to why you are depressed or stuck. 

Your therapist can help you develop a path to self exploration and also address complex causes by tracing back to the source of you lack of progress in life. It might be a temporary situation or it could also be tied down to deep seated perspectives that are a result of life experiences. 

You can also exercise reflection by journaling or by talking to a trusted friend or family if a therapist is not something you want to consider at the moment. 

A few things you can ask yourself when you are exploring this side of yourself include:

  • What brings me joy?
  • What makes me stressed?
  • Why am I doing the things I am doing?
  • Are my relationships meaningful?
  • What do I want out of my career?

Take responsibility 

To progress in your journey of wellbeing and positive mental health is to be 100 percent responsible for the behaviours that have led to you being this way. This doesn’t mean you take blame for an abusive partner or family member. 

However, you take responsibility over your own life by making the changes you can because you are the only person with the power to change your situation.

Taking responsibility means taking responsibility over your thoughts, perceptions about the way you see yourself, the owls, and others. It also means taking control over your emotions by regulating them in healthy ways. 

For example, if you’re experiencing a bad situation instead of concentrating on negatives, embrace the way you feel and think, and follow yourself to consider the choices you have to move forward.

Change Your Routines

The same mundane routine that you have followed might be part of the problem. When you stick to strict routines you reject any novel experience that might have helped you to het to know yourself and others and even bring you joy. 

Take the effort to change up routines that allow you to gradually shift out of your comfort zone. You can try doing new things, picking up new hobbies, meeting new people. 

You can even change your morning routines to bring in more fun than just basic breakfast and commutes. You can try new skin routines and exercise routines that allow you to experience something new.  

And if relaxing is not part of your routine, start resting and allow yourself the time to relax, read your favorite book, walk your bet, and other activities that you find relaxing. 

Find Your Purpose

It’s easy to find yourself in a rut when it feels like you’re not working toward a goal. Having things to look forward to and a sense of purpose are important for motivation. 

Meaning is an important part of achieving life satisfaction and well-being. Take time to reflect on what you want from your life- it could be long term or short term goals. Let those goals be your guiding light as you progress throughout your days.

You can even turn to doing something greater than yourself to develop a sense of purpose like giving back to the community or doing something for people’s lives yourself. You can even take the time to redefine the purse of your career. 

If your job is part of the reason why you feel stuck, consider finding new roles that give you want you want and need or you can even find ways you can make your job more fulfilling. 

Make plans. 

Make plans with intent- for rest, for growth, for learning, and for fun. It is important to make plans and line out strategies to meet the goals of your plans. 

You can even make plans that allow you fun like going out with friends, or on a solo vacation, or even making plans to go to a convention to learn something about your interests. Give yourself things to look forward to and get excited about.

Appreciate the little things. 

Take tie to be mindful about the things you have in your life that makes your living easier or more happier. Be grateful for them.

It could be your family members, your pet, or the fact that you have a car to commute with instead of standing in the hot sun waiting for the bus. Sometimes when we focus on the negatives for too long, we forget to appreciate what is already going on in our lives.

Take a moment of your day to reflect on the things that make you comfortable or happy, and let that gratitude be part of your daily life and the way you see your life. 

Take small steps.

For all the things suggested above, take small steps towards it. Refrain from making too many goals or too big of a step to achieve. 

Don’t wait for motivation or inspiration but simply start by doing the most simple, small step you can take.

If you want to change your routines, change the thing that is easiest and move to something more challenging and when you have achieved it reward yourself for the achievement no matter how big or small. 

It is important that you are kind to yourself when you are taking these steps of change, especially on days you fall back on unhealthy routines. Take care of yourself with the compassion you would give a loved one as you take these steps. 


In this guide we have discussed how you can differentiate between being stuck and being depressed. We have also explored what you can do to help yourself come out of being in a rut. 


Frequently asked questions related to “How to get out of a depression rut?”

Why is it so hard to get out of a rut?

Getting out of a rut is difficult because we find it challenging to hold ourselves accountable for the things we have done and the habits we have chosen to get ourselves to this point of being stuck.

It takes immense courage, love, and patience for us to reach that point of acceptance until we can start making decisions to change the ways that have led us to this point. 

What does it mean to be stuck in a rut?

Being stuck in a rut is to find yourself stuck in life, your job, your sense of purpose. 

It often happens because we become settled in our ways and our own habits that might be maladaptive. 

And because this has become our way of life, we do not notice it until we feel absolutely miserable about our lives. 

How do you feel unstuck?

A few things you can do to help yourself feel unstuck include:

  • Admitting to how you are feeling and where you are in life
  • Reflect on what did not work out and what you have done that failed
  • Choose one goal to work on
  • Find yourself a mentor to help you 
  • Set realistic goals 
  • Take small steps to meet these goals 

How do you tell if you’re in a rut?

Here are some signs that can help you identify when you are in a rut:

  • Routine is mundane
  • Not excitement and motivation to get things done
  • You feel dissatisfied with your life
  • You want change but feel afraid to make changes
  • You are harsh with yourself 
  • Your job makes you unhappy
  • You seem to have no purpose.

How do you help someone who is stuck in a rut?

Here are a few things you can do to help someone if they are in a rut:

  • Acknowledge their struggle and their feelings
  • Listen to them without judgement
  • Help them identify realistic goals
  • Help them break things down into simple steps
  • Assist them when they request help in meeting these steps
  • Help them seek professional help if needed
  • Make sure you stick to healthy boundaries.