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Focus Mental Health Planning & Structure

This Simple Routine Will Get You Out of a Rut in One Afternoon

7 minute read

Ugggh…

Don’t you just hate it when it happens?

You’ve been productive, getting tons of work done, feeling good, and the progress is plenty. Then it happens.

You wake up. Brain fog. Energy drained. Willpower depleted. You’re irritable, anxious, moody. Responsibilities and habits can wait. All you do is hit the couch and binge-watch the entire season of Britannia. Yeah, I’ve been there. Yesterday.

A rut usually happens because of three reasons.

  • You entertained a boring and unchallenging routine.
  • You burned yourself out with an overzealous lifestyle.
  • Or you recently did something that knocked you out – you ate food that doesn’t agree with you, drank, binged, or stayed up all night.

Doing any of these is like driving your car from the highway straight into a wall. Your body won’t like it one bit.

The problem with a rut is that you think you need to stay there until you grow tired of self-pity and other destructive behaviors. But remember what Newton said: “The object at rest wants to stay at rest – the object in motion wants to stay in motion.”. The only way to get out of the rut is to rebuild your momentum. Start small and snowball.

Here is a checklist I use whenever I feel a shell of my former self. Often, it is enough for me to do two or three of the exercises. Try some yourself.

#1: Drink a health potion

Every time you feel down, the first thing to check is your hydration level. Most people are chronically dehydrated. Especially if they drink a lot of coffee. Coffee is diuretic, meaning it prevents reabsorption of water in your urinary tract, making you expel way more than necessary.

The purpose of this image is to present the needs of the body, from biggest to smaller; thirst, hunger, sleep, fun.

Gulp down a ton of fluid. But don’t go drinking tap water just yet. Tap water doesn’t contain any minerals. By drinking a lot of it fast, you risk kicking yourself out of homeostasis – the mineral & chemical balance of your body. Without the proper minerals, your neurotransmitters won’t be able to work, thus making you even more exhausted.

Rehydrate with coconut water. It contains a ton of minerals. Drinking two to three liters of coconut water is guaranteed to provide your system with all the minerals it needs. If you can’t afford coconut water, drink salt water. Simply add 1 teaspoon of table salt and 1/2 teaspoon of sodium bicarbonate into one liter of water. Chug it every hour for three hours straight.

#2: Load up on the Bees

Vitamin B and D are the most common deficiencies. Vitamin B, like minerals, is crucial for neurotransmitters to work, while vitamin D kicks your immune system up a notch. If you can, always get your vitamins from a natural source and not supplements. Your body can absorb the vitamins from organic sources much better than from pills.

Vitamin D

There is a cholesterol molecule named 7-Dehydrocholesterol that is naturally present in deeper layers of the skin. If exposed to ultra-violet light, it will undergo a chemical reaction and transmute into Cholecalciferol, or vitamin D. [1] Because glass absorbs a lot of UV light, sitting at home, even if your room is lit with natural light, will not cause this reaction to happen. So make sure you take at least a twenty-minute walk.

Vitamin B

The best natural source of vitamin B is nutritional yeast and organ meat. There is nothing better than a nice meal of beef liver with onions. The liver acts as a storehouse for vitamins and is therefore extremely nutrient-dense. Eat a polar bear liver and you can actually die from vitamin overdose. But don’t worry, beef liver is not that potent, although we still consider it a superfood.

A stick figure loading boxes on a giant bee. The purpose of this picture is to create a memory image that is easy to remember.

If you can’t get the natural versions of the vitamins, visit your local drug store. Get a good quality vitamin D. Usually sold in oil capsules. Vitamin B is actually a whole family of vitamins. Make sure you get the B-complex supplement, which includes all the necessary members of the family.

#3: Do a Wim Hof

Wim Hof recently rose to fame with his breathwork & cold exposure routine. It promotes increased energy, heightened focus, willpower, and determination, as well as enhanced creativity and immune system. It has been scientifically proven you can influence both the autonomic nervous system and innate immune system doing his techniques. Both of these were thought to be systems we can’t consciously control [2]. Wim Hof method is literally rewriting medical textbooks.

The routine is short but intense. It consists of deep breathing and cold exposure. The best way to get started is to download the free android app.

Remember, you can lose consciousness while doing the breathwork. Make sure you sit or lie in a safe place while doing it!

One breathing cycle consists of thirty deep breaths. One second for inhaling, one second for exhaling. Halfway through the cycle, you might feel charged, dizzy, and maybe even nauseous. You might also get muscle spasms or emotional reactions. Just keep breathing. After thirty deep breaths, forcefully expel all the air from your lungs. Then hold. For as long as you can. You will be surprised to learn you can stay with no air in your lungs for two minutes or more. When you feel like you can’t go on, inhale deeply and hold for fifteen seconds. This is the recovery breath. Exhale and breathe normally for a few moments then repeat two times more.

The second part is the cold exposure. This will shock your system. Immediately after rigorously oxidating yourself, take a shower. A cold shower. If this is something new to you, start with a regular warm shower and progressively make it colder. Make sure to breathe controllably and deeply. Stay in the cold for at least fifteen seconds.

Once you get used to the cold – which you eventually do, experiment with alternating between hot and cold water. This is a fantastic workout for your cardiovascular system. You might experience a flush afterward. An itchy sensation caused by a rapid expansion of capillaries under your skin.

#4: Break a sweat

Usually, one Wim Hof routine will be enough to get you out of the rut. Keep building the momentum with High-Intensity Interval Training. I love to do sprints or shadowbox. But you can also go for a swim, run or hit the gym. However, don’t work out at your average pace. Kick it up a notch and gas yourself out.

As you’ve heard a million times before, working out releases endorphins and improves cognition and memory. It’s obvious. After our ancestors successfully ran away from a hungry lion, they had to accurately remember how they managed to do so. Same thing with hunting. Learning in these high-intensity situations was crucial for the survival of our species. It’s no wonder our brains adapted to work optimally after rigorous physical exercise.

#5: Stretch Yourself Like a Shaolin Warrior

Concluding your HIIT training, do a stretching routine. If you have never stretched in your life, do a simple Sun Salutation. I’m quite flexible, and I know my yoga. I’m currently trying out more extreme “Shaolin” stretches. This involves simple exercises but cranking them up a notch. Like going in the box split and staying in it for two, three minutes, or even more, feeling indescribable pain.

Stick figure overstretching his arm. The purpose of this image is to humorously display bad stretching.

I have similar exercises for my hamstrings, quads, and lower back. My favorite is a modified bridge exercise in which I lie down on my back but tuck my legs behind it. If you are already flexible, I encourage you to experiment with more intense stretches.

#6: Enter Survival Mode

By now, you probably feel hungry. Don’t eat. Fast. After loading up on vitamin Bs, try to fast for the next 16 hours minimum. Skip dinner or drink bone broth. This will be hard, but if you can get past your cravings you will feel much better the next day. I experienced this many times during my two-month fasting experiments. It seems paradoxical at first. How can consuming less energy make you more energized? Let us take a more in-depth look at our bodies.

The body is extremely good at storing energy. As you (re)learn every time you try to fit your pants after the holidays. It does so in two distinct ways. By storing glycogen in the liver and lipids in the fat tissue.

A sitck-figure chasing a rabbit. The purpose of this image is to display what happens when your body is starving.

Glycogen stores are readily available energy that is burned up fast. It can get fully depleted in a day or two. Every time you contract and relax your muscles, a molecule called Adenosine TriPhosphate (ATP) is burned up. These molecules are made in the cell’s mitochondria through a process called cellular respiration. Broadly speaking, respiration requires oxygen and glucose. [3] This is the reason why you start to breathe more rapidly during physical exertion. Once you burn all the ATP, it only takes a few moments before stored glycogen is transported and transmuted into glucose – used to restore the ATP balance of the muscle.

Lipids are harder to query and can store vast amounts of energy. Depending on your body weight, your fat tissue can supply you with enough energy for weeks, months, and in some cases, even years. But the stores are activated only after your glycogen stores have been depleted. Once that happens, your body will start to produce ketones as the primary energy source. These are made by the liver from fatty acids. So don’t worry, even though you might feel temporarily cranky from depleting your glycogen stores, you won’t starve to death.

Only after you have used up all your immediate available energy, your body goes into the hunt mode. During this time, It is crucial that it actually catches food – more so than when you were fed.

All functions involved with hunting will get drastically enhanced during a fast: running, tracking, smelling, hearing, communicating, thinking, and coordinating.

This is achieved with the help of ketone bodies for energy, growth hormone to protect the muscles, adrenaline to boost performance, autophagy to recycle wasteful cells, and other good stuff.

Cleaning up your body by fasting is a great way to help you get out of a rut. Fasting shocks your body into the “oh shit, I have to survive” mentality.

If fasting spiked your interest, do a lot of research. Fasting-focused lifestyle, if done correctly, can be extremely beneficial; but even a small miscalculation can produce severe consequences down the road.

#7: Rethink your routine

Lastly, sit down and journal. Inspect the events and the routine that got you here. See what you can modify in a way that will make you happy. If you overworked yourself, cut down on the work. If you were stressed out, schedule in boring and relaxing walks, or an additional hour of social time. Maybe some of the steps here resonated with you, and you want to make a daily habit out of them. If that is the case, I wish you good luck.

Conclusion

Take care of your body. Feed it the right kinds and amount of food, stress it under the right conditions, and it will perform at an optimal level. Live the routine you want to live. Avoid high stimulus activities. Keep building up the momentum you gained this afternoon. Soon, you will reach the speed you were once at.


Footnotes & Links

[1] From Vitamin D to Hormone D: Fundamentals of the Vitamin D Endocrine System
[2] Voluntary activation of the sympathetic nervous system and attenuation of the innate immune response in humans
[3] Cellular Respiration, Oxygen is the High-Energy Molecule Powering Complex Multicellular Life.