Mindful Monday no. 73 – 4 Things to Do When You’re Feeling Stuck

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“I am not afraid of storms for I am learning how to sail my ship.” – Louisa May Alcott

Feeling stuck is such an awful feeling, isn’t it? People often use this term when they’re frustrated and can’t think of anything they could do in that moment to change their situation. A stuck feeling sometimes accompanies fatigue, sadness, anger, and even shame.

A close friend’s family has a property near Kamloops, BC. The snow falls heavily up there in the winter months and it is only accessible by a long dirt road which isn’t always plowed. Four of us drove up there a few years ago in a vehicle that had never made the trek before. Sure enough, our driver overestimated the turning radius and we ended up in a snow bank. We were stuck in a very literal sense of the word. After realizing that no amount of pedal pushing would get us moving, we had a few options. We could call for help, we could start shovelling a path so the wheels could get some traction, or we could walk the final few kilometers to the house with our luggage in tow. We were tired and we were frustrated, but we had to do something if we didn’t want to spend a night sleeping in a cold car.

I think of this scenario often when I’m feeling stuck. In this day and age with cell phones and satellites, getting a car stuck in the snow is not usually a dire situation. Compared to the stresses of caring for loved ones, making sure we can pay our bills on time, and meeting the demands of work and social lives, getting a car out of the snow just doesn’t seem like a big deal. What makes the comparison so appealing is the role our attitude plays when dealing with any situation you may feel stuck in. There were things we could do when we realized our car was stuck in the snow, but we could have also lamented the fact that we didn’t leave the city earlier, that we didn’t have better tires, or that we didn’t arrange for the road to be plowed.

When we free ourselves from the feeling of being stuck, we may still have a growing to-do list, stresses, worries, and problems to solve. Even though the situation is the same, once we can see our options, we are able to do something.

So, what can you do when you are feeling stuck? Here are 5 suggestions.

Go for a walk.

One of the best things you can do when you’re feeling stuck is to change your physical environment, even if it’s just for 10 or 20 minutes. Leave your phone at home and get outside. If mobility is an issue, find a comfortable bench or even sit beside a window in your home for a few minutes and really notice your surroundings. This mini-escape can often be enough to change your perspective.

Do a quick grounding exercise.

My favourite grounding exercise takes less than a minute and can be done anywhere without anyone being the wiser. Take a deep breath, in and out. Focus on three things you can see. Right now, I am looking at my fingers type on the keyboard, the words moving across the screen, my notepad reflected in my coffee mug. Focus on three things you can hear. I can hear the air conditioner whirring above my head, the printer ejecting paper, and a colleague’s heals clicking down the hall. Focus on three things you can feel. I can feel my feet on the floor, a hair on my forehead, and my forearms resting on the desk.

Talk it out.

Feeling stuck often comes as a result of thoughts whirling around in your head until you’ve thought yourself in to a corner you can’t get out of. Talking to someone you feel comfortable with that will listen to what’s going on for you and help you sort it out can help give you some perspective on your situation.

Ask for help.

When you’re feeling stuck, you may also feel like you’re in it by yourself. By asking just one person for help with some of the things on your to-do list, you may find that feel a weight lift and realize that there are ways to handle your current situation. Asking for help can be tough! For more tips on how to do it, read this post.

If you would like more tips on what to do when you’re feeling stuck, read this post, or this one. 

What do you do when you’re feeling stuck? Please let us know in our comments!

Cassandra Van Dyck

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