Breaking up with Inertia
August 11, 2015 11:46 AM   Subscribe

Help me get out of the routine and re-engage with life!

Lately my daily routine has been kind of..blah. I've been traveling a bit (yay!) but now that I'm back I find myself slipping into bad habits. Usually I go to work, stay until 7-8PM, and by the time I get home all I really do is have dinner in front of the TV. Then I can't resist lying down, and the moment that happens it's game over: I fall asleep, wake up at 3-4 AM, and groggily drag myself off to bed to sleep for another few hours. Rinse and repeat. I always feel like I'm in a state of sluggishness, and I miss that..."fully engaged with life"/mentally sharp feeling. I do have a list of goals and some plans--like a cooking course that will start in the fall--but it can be really hard to get motivated. I read (sometimes), make dinner (sometimes), draw (though it can be hard to do that when it's already my job), but behind it all there's always a vague sense of dissatisfaction.

So help me, mefites! What are some good ways to break out of the mundane and re-invigorate life? I'm trying stuff already but I can always use more ideas. I'd especially love to hear from people who felt stuck in a rut for a while and what they did to get out of it or move in a new direction--maybe sometimes leading them to a new interest. In case this seems too broad, if you can frame it as an applicable plan like "just do one new thing a day" or "try exercising first thing in the morning" that would be welcome, too.
posted by sprezzy to Grab Bag (9 answers total) 18 users marked this as a favorite
You sound exhausted. How many hours per week do you work?
posted by showbiz_liz at 11:59 AM on August 11, 2015

Try exercising first thing in the morning. Seriously. If you get excited about learning new things, take up a new activity - power lifting, yoga, swimming, whatever.
posted by marguerite at 1:42 PM on August 11, 2015 [1 favorite]

I suspect that the passing out -> groggily getting up halfway through the night is what's making you feel sluggish. Is there any way you can get out of work a little earlier? I find that exercising is pretty re-energizing, so if you could get out of work around 6pm and go to the gym (or do some sort of workout activity), you'll be less tempted to zone out + pass out when you get home. I've only recently really buckled down and come up with a regular workout routine, and it's helped me immensely in terms of actually focusing on other hobbies.
posted by thebots at 1:57 PM on August 11, 2015 [1 favorite]

Bump up the exercise, cut as much sugar and processed carbs from your diet as possible, and maybe talk to your doctor about how your life is being affected so that you can get blood work for wonky hormones or deficiencies.

Also maybe consider developing a positive obsession, such as budgeting aggressively and saving so that you can plan to retire young (I may have been reading a lot of Mr. Money Mustache recently) or Konmari-ing your belongings.
posted by notquitemaryann at 3:58 PM on August 11, 2015

This is definitely not standard advice and I'm sure people will be horrified by it, but: I find that drinking a strong coffee at, like, 5pm or so gets me over the post-work lethargy hump. I just feel too awake and wired to plunk down on the couch, and so instead I make a decent dinner or go to the gym or get some housework done. You're getting home later than I do, which I assume will not change? So maybe you'd want to try a coffee at 6 or 7.

(Of course if you are highly sensitive to caffeine this could just fuck with your sleep schedule more, but it sounds like it's fucked anyway so an experiment maybe won't hurt.)
posted by We put our faith in Blast Hardcheese at 4:34 PM on August 11, 2015 [2 favorites]

(Also the thing about the coffee is that you can make it into a really pleasurable and delicious event if you want. Espresso drinks if you can afford it, maybe pair it with a break sitting outdoors for a few minutes, whatever. A whole recharging routine.)
posted by We put our faith in Blast Hardcheese at 4:36 PM on August 11, 2015

Set yourself a goal. Something manageable. Something that's good for you. Something that's easy to go and do. For me it was setting a goal of walking a minimum of 12 miles per week. That's an hour a day 3-4 times per week. It's not just exercise, it's also a chance to clear your head and think a little more coherently. Whatever you set for a goal, make sure it's something that makes you break this routine. A goal is important because it gives you something measureable to do. In my case, I could just say "ok, I need to walk more" but with no goal, I wouldn't have anything to keep track of, something to tell me "you need miles for the week, go out and get them."

It's not a cure-all but it's a start. Also, make a point to get a more regular sleep schedule. If you have to, set an alarm to remind you it's time to go to bed.
posted by azpenguin at 9:29 PM on August 11, 2015

I'm usually not a fan of tvs in bedrooms but if you're going to fall asleep in front of it anyway, why not take out the step where you have to get to bed after that? Could help with the sluggishness. Although really I agree more with above suggestions of workout, new activities, etc.
posted by sillysally at 8:31 AM on August 12, 2015

Best answer: Ouch. That TV-sleep thing sounds awful.
Could you try something for just three days?
That is, at the earliest time that you have fallen asleep in front of the TV, set a really quiet chime on your phone for 10 minutes, then get ready for sleep, and go lie down in bed for 10 minutes, with your eyes closed.
Just for three days, because that really isn't sounding like you are sleeping well, and this will mostly reset any actual exhaustion.
(The timer is just because otherwise I would keep checking the clock etc, or opening my eyes etc, whereas I make a concerted effort to actually go to sleep for 10 minutes, and if I don't, I can't be THAT tired, so I can get up again or just lie in bed reading!)

After the three days, or if you aren't starting to fall asleep in the 10 minute windows, you can move bedtime back an hour, and keep going until 'Reasonable Sleep O'Clock'.

It sounds like you are feeling really... Unfulfilled with your evenings.
I'd suggest doing something creative or social, but NOT the same sort of thing as what you do for work. Choose something you can do for only 10 minutes if needed, so that if you are really crunched for time, you can still feel like you have a life out of work.
If it was me, I'd noodle with a guitar for 10 minutes, or call/email someone I know.
But, you'll really have to choose it for yourself.

If you keep having goals, but are feeling more or less 'meh' about them, depending on the day, this is where I start drawing up a daily list of things I have been enthusiastic about that day, or actually feel like I could drag up the enthusiasm to do for at least 10 minutes. Like, 10 things each day, for about a week.
I usually have a better sense of which goals/hobbies I really want to do, and feel better about making longer term plans for them.

Oh, and cook in bulk, and throw meals in the freezer. Pulling one out for dinner still feels like some past you has cooked, and accomplished at life. :)

Anyway, this is just the sorts of approaches I take, in chivvying myself into life.
posted by Elysum at 1:50 AM on August 13, 2015

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