Boredom in this modern age is a tricky thing to find and diagnose. When most of us were children, it was an obvious and familiar feeling. As frustrating as boredom was, at least it was identifiable.
Now, it’s masked in Facebook, Instagram, smartphones, and instant access TV shows.
As a child, boredom was my cue to DO SOMETHING. To be creative, to play in the dirt, to draw to write to paint to run to learn.
As an adult, I’m moving through my days trying to cross off the to do list – so that I can do something else. But when that something else comes (or the brain-dead feeling at the end of the day) I’m not actually doing anything that fuels me.
So what can be done?
The first step in combating boredom has never changed:
1. RECOGNIZE that you’re bored.
Tune into the fact that you’re stuck in a rut. Things are slipping – you’re not doing your work as well as you could and the projects that, while might not be fun, are slipping. (Hello housework!)
2. CREATE – to create momentum.
This isn’t about working harder. It’s about finding something that does feed you – and doing it. Friend, Netflix doesn’t feed you. Reading a book – while entertaining – doesn’t feed you. This is where you need to CREATE – and let that creation build momentum.
Let me be really clear:
- Take pictures.
- Film a video.
- Dig a hole.
- Build a dog house.
- Create space. (Suck up those dust bunnies! Fold that laundry and put it away!)
- Write a poem.
Notice I’m NOT saying self-care here. I’m saying CREATE.
The act of creation is powerful. It builds something outside of yourself – something separate.
Go back to what you loved to make when you were a child. Make that.
I remember when I was in high school – and I got into one of these fretful, bored moods. I was agitated, crabby, and emotional (more-so than normal teenage stuff!). Without saying a word, my mom made a batch of her home-made playdoh, plunked it down on the kitchen counter, and handed me the cookie cutters. An hour of CREATION later – I was feeling better. And ready to go back to the day-to-day grind.
Don’t get me wrong. There’s huge value in self-care like sleep, good meals, exercise, massage, long walks, etc. But most self-care activities are done quietly – and while they feel good in the moment, don’t CREATE.
CREATE – and then use the positive feelings to turn your attention back to that to do list (hello – your book?) and get them done. And keep creating. Keep coming back to the creative center that we all cultivated as children – but we get away from as adults.
A couple of closing thoughts:
This creation should be FUN and EASY. If you’re struggling with writing – then don’t keep trying to write! Go to something you love – and can create with joy. Even if you don’t keep the results.
Boredom isn’t something to be ashamed of. It’s okay to realize that you need to stimulate your brain in a new way!
Turn off your inner critic for a while. Get back to something fun – and something that’s active instead of passive. (I.e. TV or reading or bubble baths – those are PASSIVE!)
Unplug. Spend your creative time offline – step away from the laptop, smartphone, computer, fax machine, tablet, iPod (or iANYTHING). Go old school – use your hands. And figure it out without using YouTube!