Disclosure: There might be affiliate links on this page. As an Amazon Associate, I earn from qualifying purchases. This means I will earn a commission if you decide to make a purchase through my links but it will be at no additional cost to you.
Are you always feeling bored and looking for a way to cure boredom?
Even though there are many things you could do, nothing feels interesting to you.
Perhaps you are stuck at home and you don’t know what to do.
Maybe you are feeling bored at work, having a mid-life crisis, or your life is just too boring in general.
Sometimes, we would rather have highly-charged or negative emotions than boredom.
During this period of covid where staying at home is the new norm, I find it a great opportunity to learn how to accept and embrace boredom. As an Enneagram Type 4, I dislike anything ordinary or dull. When watching movies or listening to music, I want my emotions to be evoked. So I gravitate toward entertainment that is melancholic or funny in nature.
Boredom, on the other hand, is slow-moving and rather dull. Whenever I was feeling bored, I felt restless and unmotivated too. When I tried to find things to do, I usually ended up doing random tasks such as surfing websites or watching videos. Instead of feeling better, I often feel overwhelmed with the amount of information available or feel frustrated with wasting my time. Unknowingly, I am turning toward emotions that are more intense and have more momentum than boredom. Even if they are more negative, at least they make me feel something.
Boredom can lead to unproductivity, mindless activities, and even addiction. We can easily spiral downward into negativity if we lack awareness. So in this blog post, we’ll discuss what boredom is, how to identify it, and how to overcome and deal with it.
What Is Boredom?
Boredom is not a lack of things to do. It’s a lack of interest in what you do or the belief that you have nothing to do with your time. The truth is there are plenty of things for us to do. But when we perceive those tasks as meaningless, repetitive, and uninteresting, then they will be boring to us and we won’t feel like doing them.
Boredom is also a feeling of dissatisfaction.
You feel dissatisfied with your current life, work, or relationship, and you want to escape from it. When you feel bored, your mind wanders and is not able to stay still or focus. You are not fully present and immersed in what you do. So you are constantly looking for some other activities to stimulate your dull mind.
Are You Feeling Bored or Lonely?
We often hear people say they are bored and lonely. We frequently use the two emotions interchangeably. But unlike boredom, loneliness refers to a lack of connection, not a lack of interest.
Oftentimes, when you feel lonely, you feel misunderstood and unloved too. You want to connect with others and open up to them, but you feel like they won’t get or like you. You might hang out with a group of friends or your intimate partner, and yet feel like you are on a different wavelength with them.
Or you don’t feel belong in any social group. There can be some unworthiness issues underlying your loneliness too. For example, you might think that you don’t deserve to be loved.
Loneliness is a lack of connection, while boredom is a lack of interest.
Boredom can be experienced in a social setting too. For instance, if you meet up with your friends and the conversation isn’t something of interest to you, you will feel bored and disengaged. Your friends and you might understand each other perfectly, but you are interested in something different from your friends.
As an INFJ and extreme introvert, I prefer having a one-to-one conversation or deep discussion in a small group. I feel drained if I were to have small talks with people for a prolonged period of time. When I’m in a large group, my mind tends to drift off too, especially if the conversations are moving too fast and lack the depth I’m seeking.
Unlike loneliness, you may or may not have a desire to connect with others when you are bored. Sometimes, you might be better off exploring new interests on your own.
If you are feeling lonely or unloved, read my book, Reconnect to Love.
Are You Feeling Bored or Depressed?
Boredom and depression can be quite similar due to the lack of interest in normal activities. But in terms of energy, the two are rather different.
When you feel bored, you have the energy to do things. It’s just that you might feel unmotivated because you can’t find anything interesting to do. On the flip side, when you feel depressed, you usually feel a lack of energy. It’s closer to apathy as though nothing in your life matters anymore. Your world loses color and meaning. Emotions are being suppressed and it feels so heavy that you feel like you have to drag yourself out of the bed to do something.
Boredom has way more energy than depression.
Unlike depression, you are more likely to search for new things to do to stimulate your mind when you are bored. If you feel depressed, you won’t do that because you believe it’s pointless. Boredom is higher on the emotional vibrational scale compared to depression. There is less resistance holding you back from doing things.
Sometimes, extreme or chronic boredom can lead to depression. These types of boredom are commonly known as existential or apathetic boredom. It’s when you get so dissatisfied and disinterested in life that you have given up. It’s when you conclude that life is meaningless and stop finding things to do or people to talk to.
So it’s important for us to be aware of our emotions and thoughts at all times, and know what direction it is heading before it gets worse.
How to Cure Boredom and Stop Feeling Bored
1. Accept your feelings and stay with them for a little while.
Boredom is actually not a bad place to be. It’s in the middle of negative and positive emotions. It’s like a crossroad where you get to choose which direction to go.
Unfortunately, whenever we feel bored, most of us quickly turn to activities that help us escape the uncomfortable and stagnant feeling. Sometimes, these activities can help us relieve the pain and we feel better. But more often than not, we end up feeling more restless. That’s because boredom can lead to impulsivity. Your mind wants some stimulation and wants it now! So you start jumping from things to things and keep switching between activities. And when you can’t find anything to satisfy you, you feel impatient and frustrated.
Take a break and take it slow.
Don’t rush to find an engaging activity.
When you react to boredom or dive into a task immediately, you don’t have much control over the direction you are heading to. You are just leaving it up to the external stimuli to make you happy. You might find something engaging or you might not.
Whenever you feel bored, do this instead: take a break for a couple of minutes. Stay with the feeling of boredom and breathe into it. When you acknowledge and accept your feeling, you naturally feel better. This is because boredom is only one level away from contentment on the emotional vibrational scale. By relaxing and not trying to run away from or get rid of your boredom, you automatically will feel satisfied and content with your current state.
Once you start heading in the positive direction, it will be easier for you to reach for better feeling emotions such as hopefulness, optimism, and joy. You will have a clearer picture of what to do next and inspiration will come to you. For example, I was feeling bored the other day and I took a break. Then suddenly, I had an idea and felt a surge of energy to write this blog post, and I just follow the flow. It wasn’t part of my plan initially.
2. Reflect on why you are doing something.
Occasionally, activities we once found meaningful might now become meaningless. When this happens, take a moment and reflect on your purpose in doing the task.
When we focus too much on the details or repeat the tasks for a long period of time, we start to forget about the big picture and why we do something in the first place. So it’s good to remind ourselves of our purpose from time to time.
Revisiting your purpose can also help you check if your preference or your intention for doing something has changed, and whether you need to define a new purpose. For example, when you read a book on finance, your initial goal might be to learn how to save. But once you accumulate enough information on that topic, reading finance books will start to feel boring to you. You will then have to redefine or find another purpose for reading finance books.
Knowing your purpose allows you to decide if a task is worth doing or not.
It tells you whether you need a change of routine.
When your routines or interests start to feel boring to you, it’s a sign that you have disconnected from your purpose. Your old routines might serve you in the past, but they aren’t anymore. So they might have to be replaced. What I love to do is to review my routines at least once every quarter to see if the activities still make sense and require. If they don’t, I’ll make a tweak.
Changing your routines from time to time can add variety to your life and keep your mind engaged.
3. Approach old activities with a fresh perspective.
It’s not always about changing tasks. Sometimes, it’s about seeing the same, old tasks with a fresh, new perspective. For example, I go to my neighborhood park frequently. Even though it’s the same venue, I always notice something different each time I go there for a walk. No matter how many times I go to the park, I still find it to be joyful and refreshing.
If you look at the same thing with interest and curiosity, you will always find something captivating about it. It’s the same as your relationship and work. When you know your partner or your work too well, you might start losing interest in them. But that doesn’t mean you should get a new partner or a new job. Seeing them with curiosity and an open mind, and not assuming you know everything about them will help you uncover new things about them.
Life doesn’t bore you. You bring a boring attitude toward life.
Most of us depend on external things, people, and activities to cure our boredom. We judge things as boring when they aren’t able to stimulate our minds. But are the tasks boring or did we bring a boring attitude to the tasks?
Instead of relying on the external to satisfy us, why not be more intentional and approach the external with an attitude of fun and interest? When you bring interest to everything you do, you don’t get bored. Having new experiences is great. But repetition and mundane tasks are absolutely necessary too. They give us stability and keep us grounded. The key is how we approach these tasks.
Dull experiences can be compelling too if you exercise your creativity and find new ways of doing them. I remember when I was in school, even if I dislike a subject or find it uninteresting, I could still find fun ways of learning it for exams. Rather than giving it up completely, I turned it into a game I could play.
4. Focus and be present in any activities you choose to do.
We all need some variety to spice up our lives. However, overcoming boredom is not just about finding new and exciting activities or ways of doing something. It’s also about learning how to focus our attention on something and immerse ourselves fully in the activities.
If you find yourself switching tasks often or easily distracted, your boredom might not be a case of lacking interesting things to do. It could be a result of a lack of focus and presence. Nowadays, it’s much harder to stay focused. With information being so accessible and so many choices available, we can easily switch to another thing if something doesn’t satisfy us.
The problem that comes with this freedom of choice is we practice the habit of being distracted. We never learn how to be satisfied with something. If we constantly follow the newer or shinier object, we never get a chance to truly engage with the current activity and enjoy it. All these things you do to cure yourself of boredom are short-lived. They don’t last because you are always looking for the next, best thing and feeling dissatisfied with what’s present now.
Do one thing at a time and give it your full attention.
I notice I feel bored whenever I get distracted from the current task. Be it a question that I want to search on Google, or a dream I have about the future — anything that takes my attention away from what I’m doing makes me feel bored. This is because my attention and energy are split between two things, the current task at hand and the distraction.
To overcome the boredom, I have to make a decision. I could either let go of the distraction for now and give 100% attention to my current task or stop what I’m doing right now and give the other task my 100% attention. If I didn’t make a choice and commit to it, I will constantly feel disengaged and distracted. My mind will keep seeking random things to do as I’m doing my current task.
Learn how you can bring mindfulness into your daily life.
Featured Photo Credit: David Fagundes