What do you do when you feel stuck?

Given that we’re still in a pandemic, feeling stuck has pretty much become part of almost everyone’s lives. Stuck at home. Stuck alone. Stuck with family. Stuck without perspective. Stuck without a job. Stuck on furlough. Stuck in your worst fears and anxieties. You name it.

I’ve been stuck in several ways during the past seven months, which is how long Germany was in lockdown. Now that we’re opening up again, things are seemingly returning to normal. We can go shopping, visit the museum or a concert, go out for dinner (at least with outside seating). We are allowed to see several people at the same time again and travel restrictions are also easing.

But having been stuck at home for such a long time, stuck in a funk perhaps, or simply living in our own tiny world, it feels strange to simply return to whatever currently passes for normal.

Things have changed. Our mindsets and behaviours have changed.

I have a friend who has retreated from almost everyone during the last seven months. Only her family, housemate and dearest friends are allowed in, and not even all the time. We’ve communicated regularly, though I’m not part of her inner circle, which is fine. We’ve only met a year ago but do get along quite well.

We’ve both been on furlough for most of these seven months, though she returned to do some work again in March and intermittently throughout. But it was only last week that she returned to her usual work. Perhaps contrary to what she believed, she is still stuck in the funk that has had a grip on her since last November.

Her first shift overwhelmed her emotionally. That’s quite understandable after hardly socialising for almost seven months.

My first shift back at work made me feel right at home. I also barely socialised this entire time and I am an introvert.

Clearly, we cope differently with the situation, and it may take her a while longer to find her groove again.

Whilst I handled the return to work well, I feel stuck in other ways. Motivating myself to get writing is difficult. I sit on my sofa and think about what I could be writing about. Nothing comes to mind. Or I start writing something, go off on a tangent, nothing feels right, and I delete everything.

I am frustrated.

So, here I am trying to figure out how to become unstuck.

Another example is the mood I was in yesterday after having woken from a dream about someone who is no longer part of my life. I was emotionally stuck for much of the day, did not work at all and went on a ride with my motorbike instead. Distraction was the only thing that helped. It got my mind off of this awful feeling, though it took until mid-afternoon to turn the tide.

Of course, one might argue that I should have dealt with the emotional upheaval caused by my dream. Well, I did. I have dealt with my feelings for this person for the past three years. I’ve actually made my peace. But my subconscious apparently likes to screw with me occasionally and I become stuck again.

I have no longer any unresolved issues regarding the situation or my feelings. But I do get triggered and then I have to deal with that. So, to become unstuck I have to do something I enjoy, something that takes me out of my head.

Other times, such as when I’m stuck with my motivation or writing, I have to sit still and let my thoughts roam or challenge the blinking cursor on an empty page, let my fingers dance across the keyboard and allow them to do the talking.

When I’ve felt stuck at home for too long during the past few months, it usually helped to go on a walk or even a ride with my bicycle. Physical movement helped. Fresh air.

I guess, my point is that when we feel stuck, regardless of what it is that makes us feel this way, we have to find coping mechanisms and they are going to look different for everyone.

My friend, who is still stuck in her funk, may benefit from a proper hug or someone simply sitting with her for a while, letting her be still or listening to her rant. I don’t know. Ultimately, she will have to figure that out for herself.

Yesterday, I didn’t realise when my mood shifted. I just noticed that it had and appreciated feeling better. My strategy had worked out eventually. Sometimes we simply become unstuck all of a sudden and can move on with our lives. Other times it takes a lot of work.

It does help knowing why and how we feel stuck. From there, we can begin to figure out how to move forward. And whilst we have to do most of the work, we don’t have to do all of it alone.

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