Boredom. We have all felt it, and there’s a good chance at one point or another, we have all caused it. We feel bored when we are slowly making our way through a project at work. We feel bored trying to listen to our professors teach a lecture. We feel bored doing…well, most things.
I mean, I’ve even been bored having a conversation with my best friend. Even scrolling through Facebook can result in a moaned “I’m so booooored.” So let’s fix that. The following tips and tricks will help you get through every day with a little less boredom.
Boredom creeps in easily when life becomes routine…
When life becomes routine, it can be hard to feel like there is any excitement in our lives. In fact, one of the most exciting things I’ve started doing is walking two miles on my lunch break. Yes, that is something I classify as exciting. Maybe that’s what being an adult is, but if you’re anything like me, you crave a little action! Boredom is such a common issue for the human race that scientists have actually started studying it.
They’ve defined it as “an aversive state of wanting, but being unable to, engage in satisfying activity.” 1” And when I say we’ve all experienced it, I mean it; a 2003 survey found that over 90% of young Americans have experienced boredom.
Sure, at it’s root it just sounds like we have a really petty issue. But it turns out boredom can lead to some serious problems. If boredom becomes a chronic condition, we can work so hard at filling that span of nothingness that we actually develop drug problems, gambling addictions and even binge eating.
The key seems to be attention and awareness. Studies suggest we get bored when we have difficulty paying attention. Often times we then blame external forces and reason that the task we’ve been assigned seems dull or that there is actually nothing to do at all.
Boredom can lead to earlier death
Not only can boredom feel miserable, but experts say bored people may be at risk for an earlier death 2. If that’s not scary enough, chronic boredom can also lead to the following:
- Anger and Aggression
- Lack of interpersonal skills
- Weight Gain
Though it may seem shocking that simply being bored can lead to such serious consequences, it makes sense. After all, if you find yourself with nothing to do, you may be more likely to reach for a candy bar or a bag of chips. Doing this often enough could result in weight gain. If you’re bored to the point of frustration, of course you’re going to be moody. And feeling like you have nothing to do can be a trigger (and symptom) of depression, as you can ultimately feel that there is nothing to do.
10 tricks to combat boredom:
Now that you know boredom shouldn’t be taken lightly, here are ten steps you can take to fight off that feeling of nothingness and improve your mood and health.
Think 3: It might sound simple, but our brains need to be challenged in order to fight off the feeling of boredom. Our brains need to be stimulated and active in order to stay agile and healthy. So put together a puzzle, read a book or watch an intriguing documentary. And if you’re bored at work, try shifting your focus to something like your calendar and tasks you want to accomplish in a short term.
Challenge yourself: If a friend invites you to an event, go. This doesn’t mean you have to say yes to everything, but say yes to attending things you might normally say no to. Stepping outside your comfort zone may help you fight off boredom; not only are you actively doing something, but you will be hyper-aware of the new experiences.
Avoid boring people: Sorry, but it had to be said. If you’re surrounded by people who make you yawn and lead your mind to wander, it may be time to switch up your surroundings. This is not advice to drop your friends for newer, exciting versions, but it is a push to expand your focus. Talk to strangers more frequently, too. You never know when it could lead to a new adventure.
Bored at work? Study your surroundings: Take the perspective of a scientist and study what’s around you. Gretchen Rubin, author of ‘Better than Before’ recommends looking at what people are wearing and what sounds you notice. If you’re feeling really inspired, write a quick story about your observations.
Try something new, like a unique recipe: If you’re sitting around at home, binge-watching TV shows, you’re probably feeling bored, even though you’re technically doing something. In this instance, try finding a new recipe and cooking a meal you’ve never made before. It’s mildly time consuming, and you get the experience of eating something you made.
Paint a room: I don’t know about you, but when I sit around in one room too long, I realize how much I want to change it. If you’re trying to overcome boredom and you have some time on your hands, go for it! Just don’t paint it a boring color.
Make some money: Try cleaning out your closet and finding nice pieces that you just don’t wear anymore. There are plenty of companies (both online and in person) who will pay you for the items sitting in your closet collecting dust.
Color: Look, I know coloring may have been intended for kids, but there is no denying that those Adult Coloring Books are super intricate and time-consuming. If you’re desperate for a way to kill time, pick up a coloring book and some crayons or colored pencils.
Workout/Meditate: Use the time you’re trying to kill by doing something good for your physical and mental health. This can be anything from taking a walk to sweating it out at the gym. Either way, your body will thank you.
Take a brain break: If you’re at work and realizing your mind is wandering and you can’t focus, take a brain break to prevent boredom. Pull up a silly YouTube video or two and allow yourself to laugh.
So the next time you find yourself spacing out or feeling miserable because you have nothing to do, try some of these tricks and notice the difference it can make in terms of your overall well-being. Boredom is a fact of life, but it doesn’t have to be a constant.