How To Overcome Boredom

Medically reviewed by Majesty Purvis, LCMHC
Updated January 25, 2023by BetterHelp Editorial Team

Dull moments that lead to boredom can be a natural part of life and may feel unavoidable. Those with active, curious minds may have difficulty dealing with boredom. However, anyone can struggle with it.

You may feel bored when you're doing something meaningful or something that is "supposed" to bring excitement. Prolonged boredom may lead to decreased productivity, apathy, and depression.

Knowing how to combat boredom when it strikes may help you stay productive and committed to your goals and increase joy in your life.

Are You Experiencing Chronic Boredom?

Overcoming Boredom

To overcome boredom, you might consider recognizing it and then discovering the root cause. Signs of boredom may include:

  • Apathy
  • Lack of interest
  • Restlessness
  • Trouble staying motivated

In some cases, there may be other causes for these feelings. To understand whether you're feeling boredom, analyze the circumstances in which these feelings appear. Overcoming boredom can involve self-awareness, making life changes, and finding support when needed.

Defining Boredom

The Merriam-Webster Dictionary defines boredom as "the state of being weary and restless through lack of interest." The emotions resulting from boredom may include rage, fear, sadness, and despair.

At times, boredom may signal a deeper issue, such as a mental health condition. Boredom can be short-lived or chronic. Confronting it head-on may be vital to shifting your mindset to one that can be more productive and content.

Causes Of Boredom

Boredom may not pop up out of nowhere. There are often mental and physical precursors that can cause it. Some individuals are proficient at avoiding these precursors, meaning they rarely, if ever, feel bored. Below are some common causes of boredom.

Displaced Psychological Arousal

Boredom may occur when you are psychologically energetic and want to engage in something but don't have anything to do. While your mind may be running wild, you might not have anywhere to put that energy, causing you to feel bored.

Lack Of Motivation

Feeling unmotivated could be due to several factors, including a mental health condition, stress, or feeling like your actions aren't creating positive change.

A lack of motivation may incite a feeling of laziness and keep you stuck. To break this cycle, you may choose to jump into action, despite lacking the energy or motivation to do so. If you're unsure how to do so, reward motivation (providing yourself with rewards for completing complex tasks) may help you get started.

Busy Environment

An overabundance of environmental stimuli may feel overwhelming, leading you to withdraw, disengage, and feel bored.

Mind-Wandering

Trying to overcome boredom while your mind wanders may feel impossible. A wandering mind may increase boredom, which may be overcome through focus.

A Lack Of Control

The less control you have over a situation, you may feel more likely to experience boredom. On the other hand, if you feel that you can impact your environment, you might find yourself becoming more absorbed in the task at hand.

The Object Of Past Boredom

A common mistake that people might make is channeling feelings of boredom onto an object or experience from their past.

For instance, if you were always bored in your high school history class, you may associate the history books you read during your college class with boredom. Past causes of boredom may cause similar feelings after the initial under-stimulating encounter.

How To Overcome Feeling Bored

Instead of letting your boredom control you, you might choose to take steps to push past it. You might start this process by igniting your creativity and taking action to overcome how you feel.

Lean Into 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 might 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 may hold for boredom.

Boredom can be the mind's resignation after not being allowed to fulfill its natural creative desire, which is why people often feel anxious and bored simultaneously. You might choose to incorporate creativity into daily activities. Here are a few ideas.

Color In A Coloring Book

Consider an adult coloring book. Not only will this distract you from your boredom, but adult coloring books are an effective way to reduce feelings of stress and anxiety. Studies show that coloring mandalas can decrease anxiety.

Make Art

If you're feeling ambitious, you might try drawing, coloring, or painting your own masterpiece from scratch. If you want to try art in a therapeutic environment, art therapy has been shown to be healing for various mental health conditions and symptoms.

Write Something

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.

Invent Something

Many people have an idea of an object they would like to change, yet they may not choose to do anything about it. Fulfill your creative desire by inventing something or writing down a list of ideas for something you can build or perfect.

Write Down Your Feelings

Expressive journaling not only helps overcome boredom but can also improve your mental and physical health.

The above study demonstrates that writing about emotions decreases symptoms of anxiety and depression, reduces bodily inflammation, improves job-hunting success, increases productivity, and wards off some cases of chronic disease.

Express Your Emotions In Conversation

People with a strong support system tend to live happier, healthier, and more entertaining lives. Consider talking to someone you trust or a professional to relieve feelings of boredom through conversation.

Brainstorm New And Innovative Ideas For Your Workplace

You may decide to try being creative at work. Whether you work as a bank teller or a shoe salesman, you might choose to brainstorm innovative ideas to improve your workplace.

Use Google As Your Guide

If you feel bored and don't know what to do, 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 learning opportunities may feel endless online. When you feel psychologically aroused but have no outlet, the Internet might be the answer to what you're looking for. You may also use Google Maps to find new tourist attractions or things to do in your area.

Plan A Local Or Faraway Adventure

Planning a solo or group adventure may give your mind a respite from your routine. You can customize your itinerary to make the experience uniquely yours.

In turn, you may be able to come back to your daily routine with a fresh perspective, entertaining stories, and a mental diversion. At times, a break from normalcy is all you need.

Learn To Be Mindful

When you feel bored, you can either choose to find an entertaining activity or reduce your psychological arousal. At times, finding something fun to do isn't practical. Did you know you can control your own psychological arousal in these cases?

You can do this with several techniques, such as mindfulness, meditation, and relaxation. Each of these strategies has been proven to reduce psychological arousal and feelings of boredom. They may even boost your physical health.

Mindfulness encourages you to use all your senses to observe the present moment without judgment. Meditation teaches you to focus on your breath and bodily sensations. Relaxation may reduce muscle tension and anxiety.

Are You Experiencing Chronic Boredom?

Make New Friends

Developing new connections might seem complex and intimidating, but this challenge may help you overcome boredom.

There are other options if you don't want to drive to the coffee shop to connect with others or leave home. You can also 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 bored with life, consider exploring other ways of living. The lifestyles of different cultures can be fascinating from an outsider's perspective. You may even adopt new attitudes or cultural traditions along the way. Learning a language may be an effective way to keep your mind focused and engaged.

Set Goals And Pursue Challenges

Setting goals may help you 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 may defeat laziness and boredom by setting goals and jumping into action.

Try Invigorating Exercise

The same exercise routine may not cut it if you are feeling bored. However, a new, invigorating exercise routine (Insanity, P90X, CrossFit, wind sprints, or boot camp) may break the monotony and channel your psychological arousal into a healthy activity.

Call An Old Friend

There may be people from your past who would love to reconnect with you. If you're wondering what to do when you feel bored, pick up the phone and call an old friend. You might spend hours catching up and listening to each other's entertaining stories.

Learn How To Cook Or Bake

Nutrition and healthy eating have been proven to be an essential part of your overall mental and physical well-being. Boredom may provide an opportunity to try a new recipe.

Cooking or baking can be a unique and fulfilling skill to learn. It may also reduce your spending because you won't need to eat out as much. When boredom hits, use it as an opportunity to hone a new life skill.

Counseling For Boredom

At times, boredom may feel like a hurdle you can't overcome. If you've tried several solutions to no avail, consider confiding in a therapist.

Those experiencing mental health conditions like depression may be prone to higher levels of boredom. Depression can make it hard to get out of bed and even more challenging to make it to a therapist's office. If you struggle to leave home during this time, online therapy is an option that allows you to do it from the comfort of your home. As you experience boredom throughout the day, you might message your therapist for support and advice.

In recent years, the popularity of online counseling has grown, as has research surrounding its effectiveness. This analysis of 17 studies found that internet-based CBT was more effective than face-to-face CBT at reducing depression symptom severity.

Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) is a form of psychotherapy that alters someone's perceptions of their behaviors, thoughts, and moods. Through online platforms like BetterHelp, there are hundreds of therapists available who have experience practicing CBT for a variety of client needs.

Below are some reviews of counselors from users experiencing issues related to boredom.

Counselor Reviews

"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!"

Takeaway

We may all experience boredom from time to time. What we choose to do with our time and resources may improve these feelings.

Boredom can often be managed with the right tools and resources, including speaking with a mental health professional. If you're interested in taking the first step to removing boredom from your life, you might choose to reach out to a counselor and get professional support.

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