Did you know that studies have shown that you really can be bored to death? That's right-people who report feeling frequently bored typically run a greater risk of dying from heart disease or stroke. Not only that, but boredom can also lead you to feel angry and frustrated throughout the day.
Don't worry-overwhelming boredom doesn't have to control the way you live your life. On the contrary, once you understand its causes and learn how to add some spice to your life, you'll be well on your way toward becoming a high-functioning, fully entertained, and healthy member of society.
Boredom doesn't just pop up out of nowhere. In fact, there are mental and physical precursors that trigger it. Some people are very proficient at avoiding these precursors, meaning that they rarely, if ever, feel bored.
Here are the main catalysts of boredom:
Psychological Arousal. When is the last time you were relaxed and bored at the same time? If you're like the majority of adults, the answer is probably never. Relaxation and boredom do not happen at the same time. Boredom only occurs when you are psychologically energetic and would like to engage in something, but don't have anything to actually do.
Lack of Motivation. Laziness and boredom form a vicious cycle: boredom increases laziness and vice versa. The only way to break this cycle is to jump into action, despite lacking the energy to do so.
A Busy Environment That Prevents Focus. If you have ever been bored in an airport, then you've experienced some degree of this principle. An overabundance of environmental stimuli can be overwhelming, leading you to withdraw, disengage, and feel bored.
Mind-Wandering. Trying to overcome boredom while your mind wanders away is nearly impossible. In fact, mind-wandering actually increases boredom. You begin to recognize that your mind is wandering because you're bored, and then you retreat to an even greater sense of boredom than when you began.
Lack of Control. The less control you have over a situation, the greater the likelihood of boredom. On the other hand, if you feel that you can impact your environment, you'll often find yourself becoming absorbed in the task at hand.
The Object of Past Boredom. A common mistake that people make is channeling their feelings of boredom onto an innocuous object. For instance, if you were always bored in your high school history class, chances are you associate the innocent history books you read during your current college class with boredom. These books can trigger feelings of boredom that last well after the initial understimulating encounter.
If you feel like you can relate to any of the above, there's no need to worry. In fact, here are some activities to try out the next time you want to overcome boredom.
Ignite Your Creativity
Your boredom may result from overusing your logical left brain hemisphere and underusing your creative, emotional right brain hemisphere. When you do not balance the use of both hemispheres, you can feel restless and dissatisfied with life.
According to philosopher Soren Kierkegaard, "Because it is possible to create … one has anxiety. One would have no anxiety if there were no possibility whatever." The same holds true for boredom. Boredom is the mind's resignation after not being allowed to fulfill its natural creative desire, which is why people often feel anxious and bored at the same time.
You can easily incorporate creativity into daily activities. Here are a few ideas:
Not only will this distract you from your boredom, but adult coloring books are a great way to reduce feelings of stress and anxiety.
If you're feeling ambitious, try drawing, coloring, or painting your own masterpiece from scratch. Perfection is not required; art knows no boundaries.
Whether you write romantic poetry, flash fiction, or even lyrics to a song, you can channel your creativity into the form of vocabulary and communication.
Most people encounter an object that they would like to change almost on a daily basis, yet few choose to do anything about it. Fulfill your creative desire by inventing something or writing down a list of ideas for something that you can build or perfect.
Expressive journaling not only helps overcome boredom, but it can improve your mental and physical health as well. Studies have demonstrated that writing about emotions decreases symptoms of anxiety and depression, reduces bodily inflammation, improves job hunting success, increases productivity, and can even ward off some cases of chronic disease. We here at BetterHelp consider this to be an excellent activity to do in your spare time!
Don't just express your emotions with a pen and paper; find trustworthy friends and family with whom you feel comfortable sharing your thoughts and feelings. People with a strong support system tend to live happier, healthier, and more entertaining lives.
Believe it or not, it's actually possible to be creative at work! Whether you work as a bank teller or a shoe salesman, you can brainstorm innovative ideas to improve your workplace. This is a great way to overcome boredom.
Use Google as Your Guide
If you feel bored and don't know what to do about it, hop on Google. The world is at your fingertips, ready to explore. You can browse neighborhoods in Southeast Asia with Google Earth, learn about Tibetan culture, or even discover new forms of wildlife. The opportunities for learning are endless. When you feel psychologically aroused but have no outlet, the Internet might just be the answer to what you're looking for.
Plan a Local or Faraway Adventure
Another great idea to consider is to plan a solo or group adventure. Sometimes your mind just needs a respite from your normal routine, and you can add spice to life by creating a new adventure. Add personal destinations or travel locations to your adventure to make it uniquely yours. In turn, you should come back to your daily routine with a fresh perspective, entertaining stories, and a mental diversion.
Learn to be Mindful
Did you know that you can actually control your own psychological arousal? You can do this with a number of techniques such as mindfulness, meditation, and relaxation. When you feel bored, you can either choose to find an entertaining activity or reduce your psychological arousal.
All of the strategies above have been proven to reduce psychological arousal and feelings of boredom. Mindfulness practice encourages you to use all of your senses to observe the present moment without judgment. Meditation practice teaches you to focus on your breath and bodily sensations. Relaxation reduces muscle tension and anxiety.
Make New Friends
Developing new connections might seem difficult and intimidating, but this challenge will dramatically help you overcome your boredom. If you don't want to drive to the coffee shop to meet new and interesting people, that's totally fine. You can simply go online and use one of the many social networks and communication apps for meeting new people.
Explore Another Culture or Language
If you are feeling bored with life, try to explore other ways of living. The lifestyles of other cultures can be fascinating from an outsider's perspective. You may even choose to adopt some new perspectives or cultural traditions along the way. Not only will you overcome boredom, but you will feel like a more interesting person as well.
Set Goals and Pursue Challenges
A lack of motivation and boredom can be a vicious cycle, therefore you must set goals to develop a sense of purpose. According to Walter Annenberg, a former American diplomat and philanthropist, "When we hold back out of laziness, that is when we tie ourselves into knots of boredom." You can defeat laziness and boredom by setting goals and jumping into action. The first step is always the most difficult, but once you start, you won't look back.
Stay Away from Fast-Paced, Violent Media
Studies have found that children who are exposed to fast-paced, violent media are more likely to develop ADHD than children who watch slower-paced shows. Indeed, a child's brain is ultrasensitive, but there is every reason to believe that this pattern holds true for adults as well.
When you expose yourself to overstimulating media, you set the standard of stimulation for your brain. Any life situation that is less stimulating becomes boring. Choose slower-paced forms of media that do not overwhelm your senses, so that your normal life remains interesting and stimulating.
The same old exercise routine probably isn't going to cut it if you are feeling bored. However, a new, invigorating exercise routine (Insanity, P90X, CrossFit, wind sprints, or boot camp) breaks the monotony and channels your psychological arousal into a healthy activity.
Call an Old Friend
There are many people from years past who probably would love more than anything to reconnect with you. If you wonder what to do when you feel bored, pick up the phone and call an old friend. You might end up spending hours catching up and listening to each other's entertaining stories-you never know!
Learn How to Cook
Nutrition is an important part of your overall mental and physical wellness, and there is no better time than when you feel bored to try a new recipe. Cooking is a unique and fulfilling skill to learn. It also reduces your spending because you won't need to eat out as much. When boredom hits, use it as an opportunity to hone this important life skill.
If none of the solutions above seem to work out for you, there's no need to worry-BetterHelp can help you. We offer discreet online counseling with vetted therapists who truly care about you and your well-being. You don't have to spend another second of your life dealing with overwhelming boredom. You deserve to be happy-let us help. Below are some reviews of BetterHelp counselors from people experiencing similar issues.
"Dr. Kutner understood my needs and concerns and is helping me find my motivation again."
"Rick is very smart, personable and humble. He makes me feel at ease when I'm upset and encouraged when I feel down. I always leave our conversations feeling energized and motivated!"
We all experience boredom from time to time. Luckily, you have everything you need to overcome it and add some spice to your life. Take the first step today.