groundhog day

What to do when every day feels like Groundhog Day

It's not a groundhog.  It's a nutria.  The Louisiana version of a groundhog.
It's not a groundhog. It's a nutria. The Louisiana version of a groundhog.

You know the movie, of course.   Bill Murray wakes up to the same day every day for a very very long time.

Ever feel that way in real life?  Like if you have to wash that pot, clean that sink, choose an outfit, go to the store again(!) or even bathe, that you'll lose it?  Ever feel tired of the routines of daily life?

Ever clear out your in box only to find it full twenty minutes later and wonder what the heck the point is?  Like when you reply to all the people you've been putting off replying to, and then they REPLY BACK and you're right back to where you started?

Ever wonder how to get to the main thing, the big ideas, the real meat of life, when so much of your time is spent simply going through the actions of general subsistence, like eating, sleeping and keeping yourself generally presentable?

Ever feel like you've done enough for one day by 8:30 a.m. and now it should be nap time?

I get it.  I crave a day of catch up for every day of life.

But that's not how it works.  So when you're feeling groundhogged out, try one or two of these easy strategies to reboot and refresh. (You know them - this is just a reminder, because I need a reminder too!)

Embrace the mundane.  Stop to really smell the dish soap, hear the water running. Feel the warm suds.  See the squeaky clean plate.  Use your senses to bring you to the present moment. Close your eyes and listen. To voices of kids, coworkers, sweethearts.  To breezes.  Feel textures, temperatures.  See the colors around you.  Locate the light. Breathe.  Try it right now for just thirty seconds.

Slow down even when you're sure you're behind.  Catching up isn't really attainable, because there's always going to be more.  So slowing down and enjoying might work just as well.  Trees don't say, "Oh good,  I'm caught up photosynthesising, finally!  Now I can relax."

Pretend you're an angel for a day and that your only job is to radiate gratitude, love and kindness.  Whether or not you get to your in box.  Or tackle that pile of projects, laundry, whatever. Remember how Bill Murray gets kinder, happier, and more pleasant by the end of the movie?  And you realize he could have chosen that option from the start?  Choose it.

Abandon your productivity goals and go outside.  Take a five minute walk. Ask the sky, birds, trees or flowers for some advice.  Chances are it's going to be good, and that it involves something about paying attention, gratitude, grace, happiness or love.

Notice that you are FINE right now. You're breathing.  Your senses work.  You are not in danger, most likely.  (Unless there's a land shark ringing your doorbell...)  Breathe into your okayness.  Notice if you're actually better than okay.  And even if you're sick, or close to death, or really really sad, or just fighting the common cold like I am today, remember that fundamentally, in this exact moment, you are still ok.

Do something different. If your routines are boring you, shake them up. Wear something you don't usually wear.  Go somewhere you don't usually go.  Talk to someone you wouldn't normally talk to.  Ask for something you don't usually ask for. Choose a radio station you wouldn't usually listen to.  Comment on something you wouldn't usually comment on.

Clear your space.  If you're overwhelmed by clutter, just sweep off a big area - a shelf, your desk, your nightstand --  and make a space.  Ahh.  Now you can see and think.  And decide one by one if whatever you cleared gets permission to return to the space or whether it's time to let it go.

Do it now.  Do something.  Take some action, even if it's not perfect.  Sometimes the best way out of a Groundhog Day-type rut is just to do something.  Set the timer for 15 minutes and get started.  Notice how great you feel and see if the momentum helps you continue.

Try again later.  Yes - it's the opposite of do it now.  Sometimes the best thing you can do is step away, abandon it all for an hour or two-- or a day or two-- and then come back with clear eyes.  Pick something pleasant to occupy your time in the meantime.  A nap, a walk, a piece of fruit, time with a pet, time to gaze out the window and watch the weather.

It's just life, people.  It's ok to drop the desperation for accomplishment and just savor the moment.  You know it, so let yourself feel it and really do it. If you're Bill Murray, you might even get the girl!