It is a skill in life to learn to be okay with boredom, something many of us do not do well, particularly in the era of technology. In my own home, I hear complaints of boredom any time electronics are removed from the equation for too long! I see this repeatedly with both adults and children in my practice.
I was not always good at embracing boredom, and as a teenager and young adult had an anxious fear of missing out… something that put me in regrettable situations at times. Now, I am such the opposite I have to push against avoiding many situations, because sometimes I’d rather just be home and bored… but then my kids truly would miss out! Ah, the never ending search for balance and wellness!
The truth is, boredom is a huge part of life, actually something good, and something to be embraced. Unfortunately, we often engage in negative behaviors to combat boredom… overeating, alcohol/drugs, risk-taking, too many electronics, spending time with people we really don’t like or who make us feel worse, self-harm… and the list goes on and on. The trick is to learn to be okay with sitting still, or replacing that boredom with healthy activities… even if they don’t sound as fun as those unhealthy ones!
Learn to tell yourself you want to be home… not angry you have “nothing to do!”
Tips for embracing boredom…
- Set aside time each day for sitting still and doing nothing. Start with 5 minutes if this feels near impossible – work up to 20. Set the timer on your phone if you need, so you are not constantly looking at the clock, and just sit! Let your mind do what it will, think or don’t think… but learn to be okay with the stillness and no distraction.
- Spend some time thinking each day. Shut down the electronics or any other activity, and give yourself the time to think. Ponder your day/week, consider your level of happiness or contentment, consider your goals and whether you are living toward them, consider your needs and desires… take the time to understand yourself.
- Spend some time each day not thinking. Sit with your eyes open or closed, and pay attention to your senses. Consider the way your body feels, tense and then relax it part-by-part. Consider the way your body feels in connection with your environment. Pay attention to the sights, colors, textures, sounds, smells… all of your senses around you. Be contemplative of the environment, and really pay attention to where you are.
- Create a plan for boredom. Write this down. When you are too antsy to sit still, and your mind just won’t focus, have a healthy plan ready so you don’t reach for a negative behavior. Color in a coloring book, go for a walk, walk the stairs in your home, put on music and sit with that, spend some time finding and/or cooking a healthy recipe, read… find healthier ways to sit with the boredom, without the distraction of electronics!
Learning these strategies can help you with waiting in line, waiting in traffic, waiting for another person, taking a mental break a work, being home alone, etc. The more you work on spending time with stillness on a daily basis, the less awful boredom will feel when it comes… and it will come!
Related post… Soothe your anxious mind