Experiencing boredom is an inevitable reality of life, and getting stuck in a mental rut for long periods can very well lead to feeling depressed. We need to do what we can to keep life interesting.
Face it, we all get bored sometimes. Our daily lives can become so routine and involve so many monotonous tasks and activities that we can become more than a little depressed after a while. While it’s natural to want to procrastinate or completely avoid the things that don’t particularly interest us, sometimes not attending to things can create even bigger problems, compounding the pain of our boredom. What to do?
Did you ever notice how easy it is to become distracted when you’re doing something you find really boring? Well, some studies have suggested not only that this is a normal tendency but also that it may be nature’s way of helping us renew our interest. In fact, there’s evidence that if you’re really struggling to maintain concentration on a monotonous or otherwise uninteresting activity, it’s a good idea to deliberately take a brief break from it just to refresh and recharge. Sometimes it’s even a good idea to schedule several breaks in advance (presenters at academic workshops and seminars have learned this lesson well) just to make the ordeal of attending to something that’s not inherently all that stimulating more endurable. While this little technique can help relieve the boredom associated with a monotonous or attention taxing task, there are plenty of other circumstances in life that can give rise to boredom. To combat that boredom, here are a few other ways that research indicates are potentially helpful for recouping your energy and interest:
- Take a walk.
- Engaging in any kind of activity, even briefly, can refresh both your mind and your spirits.
- Take quick jog.
- Stroll around your work premises.
- Get some light exercise in the fitness center.
- Take a bike ride around the neighborhood.
These are all ways not only to get your blood flowing again but also to raise your overall levels of energy and alertness. The more varied your activity, the more likely you are to find yourself experiencing some new, interesting things.
- Read something.
- Take some time to digest another chapter in that book you recently purchased or downloaded, find an interesting article in a magazine, or immerse yourself in a short story. Reading gives your mind a chance to be engaged in something that’s positively stimulating. Set aside some specific times of the day or week to catch up on your reading. It will give you something to look forward to and help you get through the more boring periods of your life. Be sure to pick a place with a pleasant atmosphere in which to do it. Some folks find reading too taxing for various reasons, for example if they struggle with attention deficiency. If that’s the case for you, try watching something on TV or a video clip or two on your smart phone. Or perhaps take some time to play a game on your smartphone. The important thing is to engage your mind in something that’s stimulating enough that you don’t have to force the issue of keeping your attention focused and that you also find pleasurable.
- Change your scenery.
- You don’t have to plan an exotic trip to a far-off place or go somewhere fancy. Simply changing your environment in any significant way can really do a lot to relieve boredom. All of us have our routines, so it’s important to introduce some diversity into our schedules from time to time to break the monotony. It can be something really simple. Instead of sitting in the break room or cafeteria for lunch, for example, find a space in the courtyard or a nearby park and have a “picnic.” Instead of taking the same old route to work, try an alternate or perhaps more scenic route. Changing your surroundings is a surefire way of renewing your interest.
- Take a “mental vacation.”
- Some folks like to find time for a nap during the day. But we don’t always have the time or the facility to do that. And there’s an even better way to re-charge and feel rested at the same time: daydream. Find a quite place, sit back, relax, and just let your mind wander wherever it wants to go. Daydreaming can be a harmless and particularly energizing type of “wish fulfillment” exercise, a chance to indulge in pleasurable fantasy, which science has shown to be inherently refreshing, relaxing, and satisfying.
- Make something.
- Do anything “creative.” You don’t have to be an artist to let your creative juices flow. Being creative can be as simple as doodling on some paper, trying out a new recipe, or mapping out a new design for your flower garden.
- Talk to somebody.
- Engaging with others is perhaps one of the most stimulating things we humans do. We’re naturally “wired” to communicate.
- Swap a story or two with a friend.
- Listen to or tell a joke.
- Catch up on what’s been happening in the life of a friend you haven’t spoken to in a while.
We’re truly social animals, and when we’re engaged with one another, it’s inherently energizing.
- Pamper yourself.
- Take a long, relaxing bath. Stretch out in the recliner. Let your mind and your body go into “standby” mode. Treat yourself to a matinee, try out a new restaurant, or indulge yourself in a massage. Enjoying some creature comforts is a great way to recover both your energy and your interest.
Experiencing boredom is an inevitable reality of life. When we become “stuck” in our “mental ruts” for long periods of time we can very well become depressed. So as challenging as it can be at times to combat boredom, we need to do what we can to keep life interesting. Hopefully, you’ll find the activities outlined above not only helpful toward that end but also enjoyable in their own right.
All clinical material on this site is peer reviewed by one or more clinical psychologists or other qualified mental health professionals. This specific article was originally published by Dr Greg Mulhauser, Managing Editor on .on and was last reviewed or updated by