Danielle McCarron on Getting Unstuck When You’re in a Rut

I recently moved back to Toronto after living in Asia for a year.

I travelled, worked, did my Master’s degree in Health Coaching and wrote a book. To say I was living an inspired life would be a gross understatement.

I was so excited to come home – to see my family and friends and head into the next chapter of my life. Except when I got home, after the initial excitement wore off, I hit a wall. I felt physically constricted, was eating like shit, had such low energy and was feeling super blocked. I was late on deadlines, flaking out on meet-ups and everything I was supposed to be doing.

Danielle McCarron is a Holistic Recovery Coach (MSc) , Recovery Advocate (4 years sober), Integrative Nutrition Health Coach (MSc), teacher, healer, speaker, and student and most recently the author of Journey Back to You. To order her book click here


Being blocked sucks. You know that you aren’t operating at your best, and as much as you want to, it’s hard to pull yourself out of a rut. The longer the rut goes on, the harder it is to pull out of it. For me, when I am in this blocked space, it is usually because some stuff is going on in my life I am trying to avoid, whether it be painful emotions, big changes or holding onto something that is no longer good for me – I avoid and then I get stuck. My ruts used to last for a lot longer. The good news is: now that I know how to get myself out of these ruts, they happen less and less frequently. Here are a couple tips tI’ve learned along the way.

1.Get outside.
First thing that is so important for me to do is to move my body. Sometimes, a full “exercise” can seem a bit overwhelming. Simply engaging in mild to moderate exercise for 30 minutes a day will help your mental health so, so much. This does NOT mean you have to go hard at the gym. It means getting moving. If you can get out and go for a walk, throw in your headphones and just move, it helps. I like doing yoga and 30-minutes of HIIT workouts a few times a week, but when I am in a rut, exercise is the first thing that goes for me. Getting out for a walk, even a short walk, starts to clear the cobwebs out of my head and actually not only gets me physically moving but can help squirrelly thoughts flow out as well.

I am a huge proponent of journaling – if I am not journaling, it’s because I do not want to get honest with myself about something going on with me. I found when I moved home that my journaling was pretty surface level and I was writing minimally. I operate at my best when I meditate first thing in the morning and then journal. I use Julie Cameron’s “stream of consciousness” writing. Basically, just write. Don’t think about it. It doesn’t have to be legible. You don’t have to ever look at it again – but write. It helps access creativity and move those blocked thoughts and emotions. I gain so much clarity and it was huge in me moving out of my blocks this time.

3.Feel the Feelings
I know this one sucks sometimes. But the reality is that when I am blocked, like I said, I don’t want to be honest with myself about why I am feeling the way I am feeling. When I moved home, a lot was different. Mostly, I was different. I was having a hard time relating to some people I used to relate to and was missing the excitement of Asia. It is easy to feel inspired there and it just felt so gloomy being back in Toronto. The reality though, was that by moving home, I was facing some major changes. I had to let go of some relationships (one in particular) that were no longer working for me and I was face-up with the reality of that loss. Grief sucks and I was avoiding feeling all of the feelings.

Once I got honest with myself about this and had some good cries, I had actually moved the emotion and block right out of me. This is so important. Use your journal to help you feel them or get clear on what is going on. Get Curious about why you are feeling stuck. Is your job still fulfilling you in the same way it once did? Are your relationships soul-filling, or are they emotionally draining? When is the last time you really treated yourself to some solo time without distractions? Have you been in nature lately? These are some big questions, but by simply bringing some awareness to what is underneath the block, you can help move it. Awareness is the first step to change, followed by acceptance and action.

4. Intention Setting
After you are a bit clearer on what has been blocking you, it is important to reset your priorities, intentions and goals for yourself. This was a pivotal moment in me getting out of my recent rut and refocusing on myself.

Set some goals with time-frames, in an easy and gentle way. Make sure that you add timing to them, and if the goal is big and overwhelming, add-in weekly action steps to achieving it. Sometimes, this means I even add in what I am going to be eating and when, writing down when I will go for a walk, when I will write that article and when my deadlines are for them. Break it down into smaller to digest pieces – if you focus on the end goal only it will bombard you and keep you stuck.

To set intentions, focus on how you want to feel. Are you feeling ready for a romantic relationship? How do you want that relationship to feel? Is living a healthier lifestyle your goal? Why do you want to be healthy? Connecting to your why is important to making the how happen. It will add emotions to your goals and make them more tangible.

5. One step at a time
Be gentle with yourself in moving out of the rut. Be kind to yourself and those around you. Focus on the day and write your to-do lists that morning for the day in order to really stay in the moment. Prioritize what needs to be done and make sure to make yourself a priority. Say yes to what really authentically is fulfilling you and say no to those things that are draining you right now.

  1. Self-Help-Asia-Travel-Journey-Back-to-You-Journal

6. Connect
Even if you just tell one person what is going on, be honest with someone about where you are at. Having someone to keep me accountable for what I am planning on doing really helps me achieve my goals and get shit done.

Curious to go deeper and authentically move-forward in your life? Feel free to reach out to me for some one-on-one coaching or check out my new book, Journey Back to You available HERE.

Photo Credit: Briony Douglas