Constant feelings of boredom, frustration, disappointment or sadness may leave people feeling like they are stuck in a rut. When you do things automatically on a daily basis, your activities may start to lose their meaning and you may experience sentiments of emptiness at the end of the day. When nothing that you do seems to bring you closer to your goals, you may feel hopeless after a while. A relationship that just ended, a dismissal from a job, or even the loss of a loved one may also put one in a sad loop.
Some people know that they are in a rut while others may not even realize it. You can tell if someone close to you is in a rut when he sleeps more often, shows disinterest or lack of enthusiasm for the things that he used to enjoy, or has a general negative disposition. While it is normal for anyone to feel sad or lonely every now and then, it is unhealthy for the mind and body to stay that way for long periods of time. When someone you know is stuck in a rut, he may become unproductive at work, less sociable, or in extreme cases, self destructive. You don't have to watch your friend or relative sink deeper into his rut. Here are some things that you can do to help your friend:
Offer emotional support
Show understanding, patience, affection and encouragement. Get him to talk about his problem and his feelings and listen carefully to the things that he says. Oftentimes, people need a sounding board, someone to confide in and with whom to air all his grievances. The emotional unloading can have a tremendous effect on him that he may already feel better just by talking about his issues.
Find a rational perspective
As you learn about your friend's problem, talk him through other possibilities that he may not have considered before. Your reasonable point of view may present a solution that your friend had not considered before. It is also possible that your friend is agonizing over a thought that is far from reality. Gently point out a fact without telling him that he is wrong. Whatever you say, use positive words and ideas.
Help your friend set realistic goals
Your friend may be doing too much for one day. Overwhelming feelings may keep him from accomplishing anything and the thought of not getting anything done will leave him feeling worse by the day. Teach your friend how to break up his goals into small and manageable tasks that can be completed in a few days. Remind him that doing things little by little does the trick.
Break his routine
Invite your friend to an outing, a night out in town, a movie, to a new restaurant, or any activity that does not form part of his routine. Breaking his routine can add excitement to his daily schedule. A change of scenery can also do wonders to a person's mood. You don't have to go to a coveted travel destination. Any place where your friend can get plenty of sunlight and fresh air will do. Taking walks or going dancing are also good ideas. The moderate physical activity will trigger the release of endorphins or feel-good brain chemicals that may make him feel better after.Originally published on Jul 28, 2009