Actions to Take During a Season of Standstill

One of the most common feelings we associate with moving into a transition is the idea of feeling “stuck.” It’s that awful realization of being at a standstill, where only time gets to have a real say in what’s next for you.

It can be scary, intimidating, upsetting, overwhelming, frustrating, annoying--the whole spectrum of uncomfortable emotions, mostly because we feel like there’s nothing we can really do to change our situation. We know that eventually things will get better, but we don’t know when and we don’t know how. And for people like me, who can’t just sit back and let things play out without worrying, being stuck is one of the worst places to be.

But I’ve been “stuck” often enough to know that it’s during this time that the magic really happens. It’s the formative weeks and months that make or break what happens next. It’s the time when you process and analyze and still can’t seem to get anywhere, but more often than not, you eventually hit a breaking point that makes you take action.

It turns out that there are things you can do during this season of stuck that can help you sort through your emotions and thoughts to make more informed decisions and move forward and it can calm your anxiety about not being able to control the situation as well as you’d like.

P.S. My dear friend Angelica also tackled the beast that is being in a “funk” and how you can free yourself from it. If that isn’t enough to entice you, there are magic spells involved and they actually work. 

Depending on what stage you’re in and the emotions you’re experiencing, you’ll want to be cognizant of what actions might bring about overwhelm or confusion or frustration. Remember, you don’t have to have all of the answers nor do you have to do anything and everything to get out of this rut. One step at a time.

If you’re feeling sad...

Boy have I been there. Being sad is hard. It’s exhausting, it’s paralyzing, it makes you want to curl up in bed and eat cheese and crackers (or is that just me?). It’s hard to move forward when you’re sad, but rushing through the process while you’re still sad is nearly impossible. Instead, at this time, be kind to yourself and listen to what you really need right now.

One of the best ways to listen to yourself is by journaling or going for a walk (or both!). I’m very lucky to have a gorgeous park a block away from my apartment that I can escape to for reflective walks. I’ve claimed a “spot” there where I take my journal and write and I always, ALWAYS feel better, happier, and more understanding of my needs.

If journaling doesn’t necessarily come easy to you or you find yourself just writing about your day instead of digging into the good stuff below the surface, find some great journal prompts that can help you unpack who you want to be and how you might get there. Some of my favorite journal prompts have come from Erica Midkiff’s Explore Challenge, Kayla Hollatz’s vision journal email prompts, and Made Vibrant’s weekly Self-Made Society emails.

Even if the only “action” you’re taking is writing a daily journal entry, you are doing enough.

If you’re feeling anxious...

Whenever I’m emotionally “stuck,” often times, I feel physically stuck, too. It’s like I have restless body syndrome and I have the need to just DO SOMETHING. But until I have a better idea of what I really should be doing, I need to channel that energy into something creative that just might help me discover the answers I’ve been looking for or at least get me closer.

If you, too, just want to get moving on something--anything--I have good news! There’s so much you can do that can prepare your mind and your soul for what’s next.

First, get rid of clutter. I really mean it: clean up your space, clear off your desk, organize your files, go Marie Kondo all over your closet. Are there projects that you’ve been putting off for ages? For me, I was dragging my feet on hanging two framed prints in my living room and this past weekend, I just up and did it. Need to replace your shower curtain? Get it done. Itching for a new set-up in your room? Start rearranging. If you haven’t experienced the power of cleaning and what it can do to your internal clutter, give it a try.

Another action you can take when you’re feeling anxious is to create something outside of your niche. Chances are you already do something creative; most of us are bloggers or crafters or musicians or whatever. When you’re stuck, though, you don’t often make a whole lot of progress in your own arena. Instead, create something new or try something you’ve never done before but have always been intrigued by.

For the time being, this is manifesting in abstract acrylic painting for me! I’ve never ever considered myself an artist and I’m not great at it, but I’ve been enjoying the process so far because there’s no pressure involved whatsoever.

What is great about creating without pressure is that it frees your mind to have fun, take risks, and try new ideas. Pretty soon, your mind will be buzzing with a fresh new perspective.

While all of these suggestions are helpful and meant to get your creative juices flowing, be sure to take care of yourself first and foremost. Sometimes it’s best to escape for a while, turn off notifications or take a break from social media, and put the professional development and self-help books back on the shelf for another day.

Some people benefit from a mindfulness practice like meditation or writing in a gratitude journal; others crave the satisfaction of a body-honoring workout. Do the things that make you happy. You have the power to choose your own happiness, even during a standstill. Use this time to play, explore, savor, and reflect.