5 Ways to Get Out of a Slump

get out of a slump

You know the feeling. You haven’t felt like doing anything – fun, professional, or otherwise – in a long while. When you have a stretch of free time, you end up surfing the web or watching bad TV, then feel guilty about it later. You have higher ambitions, but can’t commit yourself. If you had to sum up your attitude in one word, it would be “blah.”

Welcome to Slump World.

Hitting a slump and feeling unmotivated affects everyone, even people who love every aspect of their lives. Slumps can be temporary (“I just haven’t wanted to do anything this month.”) or more long-term (“I wish I was doing something more fulfilling with my life.”) Whatever the reason, your slump doesn’t have to continue.

How to Get Out of a Slump

Here are a few ways to get out of a slump and find something new to kick start yourself:

1. Ban your Biggest Time Waster.

While it’s okay to have a mindless hobby, sometimes we devote too much time to our favorite time wasters. Whether it’s Facebook or a video game, ban your time waster for a week. It may be the jump you need to find something else more fulfilling to do.

2. Commit Yourself to Trying Something New.

Everybody talks about completing tasks on their bucket list, but it’s one thing to write it down, another to actually do it. You could stop reading this article right now and sign up for kayak lessons or start writing your first novel. Setting goals from your bucket list will also help you feel like you’re living to the fullest, regardless of other circumstances going on in your life.

3. Break an Aspect of Your Routine.

Rituals can help us get through our daily lives, but they can also prevent us from venturing outside of our comfort zone. Pick a part of your routine and break it for a week. Instead of eating lunch at your desk, eat it outside or ask a co-worker to try a new restaurant with you. Or you could move your exercise routine from after work to before work. These small changes can make you feel more spontaneous and invigorate you to try other new things.

4. Reconnect with an Old Friend (or Find New Ones).

The people we interact with on a daily basis can influence our emotions and perceptions. Perhaps in the past you were connected to a person who had a lot of drive or went on more adventures. The sheer act of calling that person can boost your spontaneity and drive. If all your old friends seem out of reach, find new ones to fill that role. Hanging around people with a “let’s do it” attitude can help you make a change for the better.

5. Be Honest if you Need Professional Help.

There’s a big difference between being in a slump and depression. If you display any classic signs of depression, don’t be afraid to seek out professional help. If you’re not sure if you have depression, it can’t hurt to talk to a professional to hash out your problems. A counselor or therapist has a lot of resources at his/her disposal and may be able to give you more personalized advice than reading this column online.

Have you successfully gotten yourself out of a slump? Share your tips and advice in the comments below!

Photo by martinak15

35 thoughts on “5 Ways to Get Out of a Slump”

  1. One challenge is to figure out when you are in a slump. So often we get stuck first and then fail to realise how everything we do is feeding the slump. Self reflection is wonderful. As is doing one new thing every day/week or month. You need to watch those habits that suck you into ennui and nothingness

    1. Great point, Roberta. Getting stuck in a slump is usually a slow process, so recognizing that you’re already there is the first key step to getting yourself out. I think doing a mental check on yourself every now and then would help.

  2. Hey Deborah,

    I love your list, especially the banning of the big time waster. As so0n as the last season of Breaking Bad is over my wife and I are cutting the cord to cable!

    But I really like your idea to connect with old friends. I’ve been meaning to do this but just keep putting it off. Thanks for the swift kick.

    Really great article!


    1. I can relate with you on the TV addiction. We cut cable years ago and now just do on demand, and oddly enough, we watch less TV. There’s something about having so much choice that makes us try doing something else. Go figure.

      I hope you enjoy reconnecting with your old friends. Cheers!

  3. Slump? What’s that? But seriously, I’ve found that once we create positive and productive habits that are well-balanced and diverse in nature it’s hard to ever fall back into a slump.

    1. It’s true that you have formed good habits, you’re likely to experience slumps less often. I have found this true in my own life. Still, every once in a while I realize I get myself into a bit of a rut (usually because I get too focused on one aspect on my life to the detriment of others), and I have to push my way back out into balance.

  4. Facebook might be the main culprit that I become slump. Spend countless hours in front of the screen doing nothing. I should start banning it now for a week and it should let me get back on track on my project. Thanks for sharing!

    1. Good luck with trying out something new. If it works for a week and you find you don’t need Facebook anymore, great! If you find it’s something you enjoy and banning it forever is too much, then try to limit your Facebook time to specific amount at a specific time, and it may work out better for you in the long run. Cheers!

  5. Great tips for bumping a slump, thanks Deborah. I would add getting an accountability partner. For me, an AP is an invaluable asset to staying on track, helps to eliminate distractions and keeps my focus on pushing through distractions… not indulging in them!

    1. Great addition to the list, Lorna. Someone to keep you accountable can help you not only eliminate distractions, as you noted, but help you identify when you might need a change.

  6. I agree with you that changing some of our habits can really help. Sometimes though just getting started on something we want to do can be the problem – that part of us that wants to stay ‘comfortable’ can put up some pretty strong resistance on occasions! One trick I use is to tell myself I’ll just do something for 10 or 15 minutes – then inevitably I carry on!

    1. That’s a great trick, Gina, and I’ve used it successfully myself sometimes. 10-15 minutes isn’t a long time either, so if you’re really not in the mood, you can put it aside or try something else for 10-15 minutes.

  7. I have found that to get out of a slump I usually need to change create a few new habits. Exercising is my best tool to feel better instantly, I find when I exercise I naturally am more motivated to take on other challenges. Thanks for your inspiration today.

  8. mahavir nautiyal

    Slump also comes when One tends to gloat over the past achievements or berate oneself for having committed some mistakes which he could have avoided. I do the latter too often.It invariably saps the energy. While learning from the past is good, dwelling too much on the past retards the pace of doing something new. I have to break this habit or else the slump will loom large. Thanks for the insight.

    1. That’s a great point, mahavir. You can’t let the past – both your successes and mistakes – dictate how you take on the future. Change is about overcoming your past, so focusing on it too much can hinder your ability to move forward.

  9. Thank you so much for the post. Very insightful! Our mind’s coping mechanisms are largely based on forming comfortable habits. It’s a defense mechanism–to go where we’re safe. Slumps often start because we get too engrained in the habits that keep us safe, but the good news is if we can identify all the things we do at least three times a week (and especially every day) and add up all that time spent doing those repetitive things that are not essential, that’s where you’ll find all this time to start something new. It’s a magical discovery, really. You have so much time you never knew about!

  10. Slumps…I believe are a result of not listening to the cravings of our soul. We have our lists of shoulds, woulds, ought to, and must; but do you take the time to quiet your mind, your brain, the thing that rants non-stop and simply ask yourself: “what do I want?” this is a practice that I use regularly. I do it as a stream of consciousness writing exercise. I ask myself over and over: “what do I want?” “what do I want?”. I keep a list, sometimes there are seemingly insignificant items such as: a dark chocolate mocha or to hang the picture that’s leaning against the wall in the hallway or sometimes it’s: to write my book. What I know is that the things that make the list are cravings of my inner being, what I call my soul. Pause, listen to yourself, you have your answers!

    1. I agree that you can do a lot by answering the question “What do I want?” I’ve found ways to simplify my own life by narrowing down to the things I really want to accomplish.

  11. I am deep in the slump..probaly smack dab ina a long depression. No resources for professional help..barely enough care to just participate here. i rally..I pray..but could you please address dealing with recurrent despair…crying alot…hopelessness?

    I spend alo of energy just distracting myself….and waiting waiting waiting for some new event to CHANGE this situ. I am not saying I activate not trying…I am saying I am trying and trying and nothing is changing and I cannot believe how much ^%%$$#patience this is taking!!!

    1. I’m not licensed to give you advice for recurring depression. Every individual’s situation is different, which is why my best advice is to seek professional help that can look at your needs specifically. The brief period in my life that I needed it, a counselor helped me get through a rough time.

      If you’re constrained by time or money, I would recommend looking into local resources. Community centers sometimes have cheap or free counseling services, as do local charities, colleges, and religious groups. If that doesn’t pan out, searching online for depression support groups or depression hotlines (there are many types available) could also aid in getting the help and support you need.

      Depression runs in my family, so I know how difficult it can be to make that first step. Just writing on this article means you’re willing to make a change. Best of luck and don’t give up.

  12. Thanks for the article. In my case I noticed simply reading the article and taking my mind off the slump helps getting me engaged to act.

    What also works for me is getting clear on what my single biggest goal for the day or week is.

    Even if it takes me 1 hr to work this out it almost allways ends with me feeling a lot of energy to go take on the task and achieve the goal.

    1. It is amazing how much better you feel if you can motivate yourself to work on what matters to you. Glad to hear this article helped you, and good luck in the long run!

  13. Finding a great article about change and tweeting it out is a new thing for me. And its what I am doing RIGHT NOW! Thanks Deborah!

  14. I am in the process of getting myself out of rock bottom at the moment, I was job less moved back in with parents, and spent my time trying to distract myself from depression by endless TV watching or playing games. I decided to get a job, I now have one, and to pursue goals I had forsaken out of self-doubt long ago. I wanted

  15. Some great tips here. It can be tough getting back out of a slump, but once you take that first step things really do begin to pick up. Love the suggestion of trying something new…this is definitely a good one.

  16. I love the simplicity of this post.

    Breaking habits- When I slump, I tend to go to sleep very early. Sleeping seems like a safe place.

    I know I need to completely turn that around and use that time wisely.


    I’m a fan!!


  17. For me, the best way to get out of a slump is to take action. Usually, when I’m in a slump, I’m not motivated to do anything and so I set myself a mini-goal for only 10 minutes – for example, collecting ideas for an article I want to write, doing some market research, calling a few potential JV partners… it must be something productive, something that produces some kinds of results and not activities like cleaning my desk, deleting spam messages in my inbox…

    Most of the time, when I reach the end of the 10 minute mark, I already have something interesting and exciting to show, something that motivates me and puts me in the right mindset and I just keep going without even feeling the need to push and force myself.

    When you are in a slump, the most difficult part is to start your engine and to get going… don’t think a lot, just get started and do something.

    1. A 10-minute mini-goal is a great idea. It doesn’t take a lot of effort, and as you mentioned, can get you jump started out of a slump.

      I agree that the most difficult part is forward momentum. My dad once saw me in a slump and told me I should get out of the house and do something. When I told him I didn’t want to (and in fact, I said I didn’t want to do anything), that’s why he insisted I go. And it did help me push past the slump.

  18. I’m not sure if I’m in a slump or just a messed up situation. I’m 20 years old, and I take good care of myself. I have a job that I enjoy, a great living situation, but I’m missing what I really want. I live in the bible belt where oppression is the norm. I want to find a man, but everyone is fake. They are mostly closet cases, who end up lying to me about their second life. I fall for it over and over. I’m feeling like a hopeless romantic. Something used and put in the corner for latter. I’m swearing off sex tell I’m married. I hope it helps. Feels good to share. :D

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