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Last Updated on November 28, 2017

Yes Life Can Be Boring Sometimes. But There’re Some Tricks to Make It More Interesting

Yes Life Can Be Boring Sometimes. But There’re Some Tricks to Make It More Interesting

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.

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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:

  • Anxiety
  • Depression
  • 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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

Featured photo credit: Maxime Le Conte des Floris via stocksnap.io

Reference

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Heather Poole

Technical writer

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Published on November 14, 2018

Why You Suffer from Constant Fatigue and How to Deal with It

Why You Suffer from Constant Fatigue and How to Deal with It

With our busy, always on lives, it seems that more and more of us are facing constant tiredness and fatigue on a regular basis.

For many people, they just take this in their stride as part of modern life, but for others the impact can be crippling and can have a serious effect on their sense of wellbeing, health and productivity.

In this article, I’ll share some of the most common causes of constant tiredness and fatigue and give you some guidance and action steps you can take to overcome some of the symptoms of fatigue.

Why Am I Feeling Fatigued?

Fatigue is extreme tiredness resulting from mental or physical exertion or illness.  It is a reduction in the efficiency of a muscle or organ after prolonged activity.[1]

It can affect anyone, and most adults will experience fatigue at some point in their life. 

For many people, fatigue is caused by a combination of lifestyle, social, psychological and general wellbeing issues rather than an underlying medical condition.

Although fatigue is sometimes described as tiredness, it is different to just feeling tired or sleepy. Everyone feels tired at some point, but this is usually resolved with a nap or a few nights of good sleep. Someone who is sleepy may also feel temporarily refreshed after exercising. If you are getting enough sleep, good nutrition and exercising regularly but still find it hard to perform, concentrate or be motivated at your normal levels, you may be experiencing a level of fatigue that needs further investigation. 

Symptoms of Fatigue

Fatigue can cause a vast range of physical, mental and emotional symptoms including:

  • chronic tiredness, exhaustion or sleepiness
  • mental blocks
  • lack of motivation
  • headache
  • dizziness
  • muscle weakness
  • slowed reflexes and responses
  • impaired decision-making and judgement
  • moodiness, such as irritability
  • impaired hand-to-eye coordination
  • reduced immune system function
  • blurry vision
  • short-term memory problems
  • poor concentration
  • reduced ability to pay attention to the situation at hand

Causes of Fatigue

The wide range of causes that can trigger fatigue include:

  • Medical causes: Constant exhaustion, tiredness and fatigue may be a sign of an underlying illness, such as a thyroid disorder, heart disease, anemia or diabetes.
  • Lifestyle-related causes: Being overweight and a lack of regular exercise can lead to feelings of fatigue.  Lack of sleep and overcommitting can also create feelings of excessive tiredness and fatigue.
  • Workplace-related causes: Workplace and financial stress in a variety of forms can lead to feelings of fatigue.
  • Emotional concerns and stress: Fatigue is a common symptom of mental health problems, such as depression and grief, and may be accompanied by other signs and symptoms, including irritability and lack of motivation.

Fatigue can also be caused by a number of factors working in combination.

Medical Causes of Fatigue

If you have made lifestyle changes to increase your energy and still feel exhausted and fatigued, it may be time to seek guidance from your doctor.

Here are a few examples of illnesses that can cause ongoing fatigue. Seek medical advice if you suspect you have a health problem:

Anemia

Anemia is a condition in which you don’t have enough healthy red blood cells to carry adequate oxygen to the body’s tissues. It is a common cause of fatigue in women.

Having anemia may make you feel tired and weak.

There are many forms of anemia, each with its own cause. Anemia can be temporary or long term, and it can range from mild to severe.[2]

Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (CFS)

Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (CFS) is a condition that can cause persistent, unexplained fatigue that interferes with daily activities for more than six months.

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This is a chronic condition with no one-size-fits-all treatment, but lifestyle changes can often help ease some symptoms of fatigue.[3]

Diabetes

Diabetes can cause fatigue with either high or low blood sugars. When your sugars are high, they remain in the bloodstream instead of being used for energy, which makes you feel fatigued. Low blood sugar (glucose) means you may not have enough fuel for energy, also causing fatigue.[4]

Sleep Apnea

Sleep apnea is a serious sleep disorder where sufferers briefly stop breathing for short periods during sleep. Most people are not aware this is happening, but it can cause loud snoring, and daytime fatigue.

Being overweight, smoking, and drinking alcohol can all worsen the symptoms of sleep apnea.[5]

Thyroid disease

An underactive thyroid gland means you have too little thyroid hormone (thyroxine) in your body. This makes you feel tired and you could also put on weight and have aching muscles and dry skin.[6]

Common lifestyle factors that can cause fatigue include:

  • Lack of sleep
  • Too much sleep 
  • Alcohol and drugs 
  • Sleep disturbances 
  • Lack of regular exercise and sedentary behaviour 
  • Poor diet 

Common workplace issues that can cause fatigue include:

  • Shift work: Our body is designed to sleep during the night. A shift worker may confuse their circadian clock by working when their body is programmed to be asleep.
  • Poor workplace practices: This may include long work hours, hard physical labour, irregular working hours (such as rotating shifts), a stressful work environment, boredom or working alone. 
  • Workplace stress – This can be caused by a wide range of factors including job dissatisfaction, heavy workload, conflicts with bosses or colleagues, bullying, or threats to job security.
  • Burnout: This could be striving too hard on one area of your life while neglecting others, which leads to a life that feels out of balance.

Psychological Causes of Fatigue

Psychological factors are present in many cases of extreme tiredness and fatigue.  These may include:

  • Depression: Depression is characterised by severe and prolonged feelings of sadness, dejection and hopelessness. People who are depressed commonly experience chronic fatigue.
  • Anxiety and stress: Someone who is constantly anxious or stressed keeps their body in overdrive. The constant flooding of adrenaline exhausts the body, and fatigue sets in.
  • Grief: Losing a loved one causes a wide range of emotions including shock, guilt, depression, despair and loneliness.

How to Tackle Constant Fatigue

Here are 12 ways you can start tackling the causes of fatigue and start feeling more energetic.

1. Tell The Truth

Some people can numb themselves to the fact that they are overtired or fatigued all the time. In the long run, this won’t help you.

To give you the best chance to overcome or eliminate fatigue, you must diagnose and tell the truth about the things that are draining your energy, making you tired or causing constant fatigue.

Once you’re honest with yourself about the activities you’re doing in your life that you find irritating, energy-draining, and make you tired on a regular basis you can make a commitment to stop doing them.

The help that you need to overcome fatigue is available to you, but not until you tell the truth about it. The first person you have to sell on getting rid of the causes of fatigue is yourself.

One starting point is to diagnose the symptoms. When you start feeling stressed, overtired or just not operating at your normal energy levels make a note of:

  • How you feel
  • What time of day it is
  • What may have contributed to your fatigue
  • How your mind and body reacts

This analysis may help you identify, understand and then eliminate very specific causes.

2. Reduce Your Commitments

When we have too many things on our plate personally and professionally, we can feel overstretched, causing physical and mental fatigue.

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If you have committed to things you really don’t want to do, this causes irritability and low emotional engagement. Stack these up throughout your day and week, then your stress levels will rise.

When these commitments have deadlines associated with them, you may be trying to cram in far too much in a short period of time.  This creates more stress and can affect your decision making ability.

Start being realistic about how much you can get done. Either reduce the commitments you have or give yourself more time to complete them in.

3. Get Clear On Your Priorities

If working on your list of to-do’s or goals becomes too overwhelming, start reducing and prioritizing the things that matter most.

Start with prioritizing just 3 things every day. When you complete those 3 things, you’ll get a rush of energy and your confidence will grow.

If you’re trying to juggle too many things and are multi-tasking, your energy levels will drop and you’ll struggle to maintain focus.

Unfinished projects can make you self-critical and feel guilty which drops energy levels further, creating inaction.

Make a list of your 3 MIT (Most Important Tasks) for the next day before you go to bed. This will stop you overcommitting and get you excited about what the next day can bring.

4. Express More Gratitude

Gratitude and confidence are heavily linked. Just being thankful for what you have and what you’ve achieved increases confidence and makes you feel more optimistic.

It can help you improve your sense of wellbeing, which can bring on feelings of joy and enthusiasm.

Try starting a gratitude journal or just note down 3 things you’re grateful for every day.

5. Focus On Yourself

Exhaustion and fatigue can arrive by focusing solely on other people’s needs all the time, rather than worrying about and focusing on what you need (and want).

There are work commitments, family commitments, social commitments. You may start with the best intentions, to put in your best performance at work, to be an amazing parent and friend, to simply help others.

But sometimes, we extend ourselves too much and go beyond our personal limits to help others. That’s when constant exhaustion can creep up on us.  Which can make us more fatigued.

We all want to help and do our best for others, but there needs to be some balance. We also need to take some time out just for ourselves to recharge and rejuvenate.

6. Set Aside Rest and Recovery Time

Whether it’s a couple of hours, a day off, a mini-break or a proper holiday, time off is essential to help us recover, recharge and refocus.

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Recovery time helps fend off mental fatigue and allows us to simply kick back and relax.

The key here, though, is to remove ourselves from the daily challenges that bring on tiredness and fatigue. Here’s how.

Can you free yourself up completely from work and personal obligations to just rest and recover?

7. Take a Power Nap

When you’re feeling tired or fatigued and you have the ability to take a quick 20-minute nap, it could make a big difference to your performance for the rest of the day.

Napping can improve learning, memory and boost your energy levels quickly.

This article on the benefit of napping is a useful place to start if you want to learn more: How a 20-Minute Nap at Work Makes You Awake and Productive the Whole Day

8. Take More Exercise

The simple act of introducing some form of physical activity into your day can make a huge difference. It can boost energy levels, make you feel much better about yourself and can help you avoid fatigue.

Find something that fits into your life, be that walking, going to the gym, running or swimming. 

The key is to ensure the exercise is regular and that you are emotionally engaged and committed to stick with it.

You could also walk more which will help clear your head and shift your focus away from stressful thoughts.

9. Get More Quality Sleep

To avoid tiredness, exhaustion and fatigue, getting enough quality sleep matters. 

Your body needs sleep to recharge.  Getting the right amount of sleep every night can improve your health, reduce stress levels and help us improve our memory and learning skills.

My previous article on The Benefits of Sleep You Need to Know will give you some action steps to start improving your sleep. 

10. Improve Your Diet

Heavy or fatty meals can make you feel sluggish and tired, whilst some foods or eating strategies do just the opposite.

Our always on lives have us reaching for sweets or other sugary snacks to give us a burst of energy to keep going. Unfortunately, that boost fades quickly which can leave you feeling depleted and wanting more.

On the other hand, whole grains and healthy unsaturated fats supply the reserves you can draw on throughout the day.

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To keep energy up and steady, it’s a good idea to limit refined sugar and starches.

Eating small meals and healthy snacks every few hours throughout the day provides a steady supply of nutrients to body and brain. It’s also important not to skip breakfast.

Eating a balanced diet helps keep your blood sugar in a normal range and prevents that sluggish feeling when your blood sugar drops.

11. Manage Your Stress Levels

Stress is one of the leading causes of exhaustion and fatigue, and can seriously affect your health.

When you have increased levels of stress at work and at home, it’s easy to feel exhausted all the time. 

Identifying the causes of stress and then tackling the problems should be a priority. 

My article on How to Help Anxiety When Life is Stressing You Out shares 16 strategies you can use to overcome stress.

12. Get Hydrated

Sometimes we can be so busy that we forget to keep ourselves fully hydrated.

Water makes up about 60 percent of your body weight and is essential in maintaining our body’s basic functions.

If we don’t have enough water, it can adversely affect our mental and physical performance, which leads to tiredness and fatigue.

The recommended daily amount is around two litres a day, so to stay well hydrated keep a water bottle with you as much as possible.

The Bottom Line

These 12 tips can help you reduce your tiredness and feeling of fatigue.  Some will work better than others as we are all different, whilst others can be incorporated together in your daily life.

If you’ve tried to make positive changes to reduce fatigue and you still feel tired and exhausted, it may be time to consider making an appointment with your doctor to discuss your condition.

Featured photo credit: Annie Spratt via unsplash.com

Reference

[1]Oxford English Dictionary: Definition of fatigue
[2]NHS Choices: 10 Reasons for feeling tired
[3]Verywellhealth: What is chronic fatigue syndrome
[4]Everyday Health: Why does type 2 diabetes make you feel tired
[5]Mayo Clinic: Sleep apnea
[6]Harvard Health: The lowdown on thyroid slowdown

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