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How to Overcome Boredom

How to Overcome Boredom


    Have you ever been bored?

    Restless? Fidgety? In need of some inspiration?

    I have a theory on boredom. I believe that the rate of boredom has increased alongside the pace of technology.

    If you think about it, technology has provided us with mobile phones, lap tops, i-pads, device after device – all to ultimately fix one problem:

    Boredom

    We have become a global nation that feeds on entertainment.

    We associate ‘living’ with ‘doing’. People don’t know how to sit still. We feel guilty if we are not ‘doing.’ ‘Inactivity’ has become the ultimate ‘sin’.

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    What is boredom anyway?

    You might not realize it, but boredom stimulates a form of anxiety & stress. It evokes an emotional state that creates frustration and feeds procrastination.

    It’s a desire to be ‘doing something’ or to be ‘entertained’. It’s a desire for sensory stimulation.

    What it boils down to a lack of focus.

    If you think about those times when you’re bored it’s usually because you ‘don’t know what to do’. So indecision plays a big part.

    When we are focused on what’s important to us and what we want to achieve, it’s pretty hard to be bored.

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    So one answer to boredom is to become focused on what you want.

    Sometimes it’s good to be bored

    If boredom is a desire for sensory stimulation – then what’s the opposite of that? To be content with no stimulation.

    In other words, to enjoy stillness.

    Research has shown that it’s not the ‘boredom’ its-self that causes the frustration, it’s the resistance to doing nothing. Think about it. What would happen if you were to ‘let go’ of the desire to be entertained? You wouldn’t be bored anymore. You would be relaxing!

    In my experience, it’s often the most obvious, simplistic solutions that are the most powerful in life. So when you’re bored, the easiest way to combat this is to enjoy it.

    Sounds weird, but think of ‘boredom’ as a form of ‘relaxation’. It’s a break from the constant stimulation that 21st century living provides. The constant TVs, mobile phones, radios, internet, emails, phonecalls…

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    Who knows, maybe ‘boredom’ is actually a good for us?

    Next time you’re ‘feeling bored’ instead of feeding the frustration by frantically looking for something to do, maybe you can sit back, relax and savor the feeling of having nothing to do.

    Here’s my 3 step strategy to overcome boredom:

    1. Get focused

    Instead of chasing sensory stimulation at random, focus on what’s really important to you. What would make good use of your time? What could you be doing that would contribute to your major goals in life?

    Here are a few ideas:

    • Spend some time in quiet contemplation considering what’s important to you
    • Start that creative project you’ve been talking about for the last few weeks
    • Brainstorm: think of some ideas for new innovative products or businesses

    2. Kill procrastination

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    Boredom is useful in some ways because it give us energy to ‘do things’, so next time you’re bored why not put this good energy to use by ticking off those things that you have been ‘meaning to get done, but have been too busy’.

    This is a great time to clear your ‘to do’ list.

    Some ideas:

    • Do some exercise
    • Read a book
    • Learn something new
    • Call a friend
    • Get creative (draw, paint, sculpt, create music, write)
    • Spring clean
    • Wash the car
    • Renovate the house
    • Re-arrange the furniture
    • Write your shopping list
    • Water the plants
    • Walk the dog
    • Sort out your mail & email
    • De-clutter (clear out that wardrobe)

    3. Enjoy boredom

    If none of the above work, then try a different approach. Don’t give in to boredom and instead choose to enjoy it.

    Contrary to popular belief, we don’t need to be constantly ‘doing things’ in order to be productive. In-fact research has shown that people are more productive when they take periods of rest to recharge.

    So take some time to relax. You never know you might even like it.

    (Photo credit: Bored Woman Sitting via Shutterstock)

      More by this author

      Zoe B

      A strategist, coach and blogger who shows people how to stop what isn't working for them in life and to start to plan the life they really want.

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      Last Updated on December 9, 2019

      5 Simple Ways to Relieve Stress Effectively

      5 Simple Ways to Relieve Stress Effectively

      Everyone experiences mental stress at one time or another. Maybe you’re starting a new career, job, or business, or you feel incredibly overwhelmed between work, parenting, and your love life (or a lack of it). It could even be that you simply feel that you have way too much to do and not enough time to do it,  plus, on top of everything, nothing seems to be going the way it should!

      Yup, we all experience mental stress from time-to-time, and that’s okay as long as you have the tools, techniques and knowledge that allow you to fully relieve it once it comes.

      Here are 5 tips for relieving mental stress when it comes so you can function at your best while feeling good (and doing well) in work, love, or life:

      1. Get Rationally Optimistic

      Mental stress starts with your perception of your experiences. For instance, most people get stressed out when they perceive their reality as “being wrong” in some way. Essentially, they have a set idea of how things “should be” at any given moment, and when reality ends up being different (not even necessarily bad), they get stressed.

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      This process is simply a result of perception and can be easily “fixed” by recognizing that although life might not always be going as YOU think it should, it’s still going as it should—for your own benefit.

      In fact, once you fully recognize that everything in your life ultimately happens for your own growth, progress, and development—so you can achieve your goals and dreams—your perception works in your favor. You soon process and respond to your experience of life differently, for your advantage. That’s the essence of becoming “rationally optimistic.”

      The result: no more mental stress.

      2. Unplug

      Just like you might need to unplug your computer when it starts acting all crazy, you should also “unplug” your mind.

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      How on earth do you unplug your mind? Simple: just meditate.

      It isn’t nearly difficult or complicated as some people think, so, if you don’t already meditate, give it a try. Whether you meditate for 5 minutes, 30 minutes, or 2 hours, this is a surefire way to reduce mental stress.

      Meditation has been scientifically proven to relax your body (resulting in less mental stress), while also reducing anxiety and high blood pressure.

      3. Easy on the Caffeine

      Yes, we know, we know—everyone loves a nice java buzz, and that’s okay, but there’s a fine line between a small caffeine pick-me-up and a racing heart and mind that throws you into a frenzy of mental stress.

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      Try giving up caffeine for a while and see how you feel. And, if that’s completely out of the question for you, at least try to minimize it. You might find that lots of your mental stress mysteriously “disappears” as your caffeine intake goes down.

      4. Attack Mental Stress Via the Back Door

      That’s right: your body and mind are part of the whole being, and are constantly influencing and affecting each other. If you’re experiencing a lot of mental stress, try to reduce it by calming your body down—a calm body equals a calmer mind.

      How do you calm your body down and reduce physical stress? A  great way to reduce physical stress (thereby reducing mental stress) is to take natural supplements that are proven to reduce stress and anxiety while lifting your mood. Three good ones to look into are kava-kava, St John’s wort, and rhodiola rosea:

      • Kava-kava is a natural plant known to have mild sedative properties, and you should be able to find it at your natural health food store or vitamin store. It’s available in capsules or liquid extract form.
      • St John’s wort is a natural flower used to treat depression. Again, it’s found at your local health store in capsules or liquid. Because it uplifts mood (enabling you to see the brighter side of all experiences) it helps relieve mental stress as well.
      • Rhodiola rosea is a natural plant shown to reduce stress and uplift mood, and Russian athletes have been using it forever. Like the other two supplements mentioned, rhodiola rosea can be found at your natural health store in capsule or liquid form.

      While these supplements are all natural and can be very helpful for most people, always check with your health care provider first as they can cause side-effects depending on your current health situation etc.

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      5. Good Old-Fashioned Exercise

      This tip has been around forever because it works. Nothing relieves mental stress like running, kickboxing—you name it. Anything super-physical will wipe out most of your mental stresses once the exercise endorphins (happy chemicals) are released into your brain.

      The result: mental stress will be gone!

      So, if you’re feeling overwhelmed or just plain stressed, try using some of the above tips. You can even print this out or save it to refer to regularly.

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      Featured photo credit: Radu Florin via unsplash.com

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