How To Manage Boredom

Pat Garner

I’ve heard from many people who “retire” that they don’t know how they had time to work their 40-hour day job now that they’re retired. I find there’s a LOT to do daily, but then there are times when boredom creeps in. For example, when my husband is out of town for softball tournaments, I have time to focus on things I want to do. So instead, I spent time rearranging my closet, going through dresser drawers, catching up on reading, and even watching a few bad movies on Netflix!

Toward the end of the week, I found myself a little bored. I had to look for things to do. I even felt a little guilty for not being in constant motion. I met with a friend for coffee, and I shared my feeling of boredom with her. There were a few takeaways from our conversation that made me think and reflect.

I consulted Dr. Google and researched boredom and found inadequate rest and little mental stimulation lead to boredom. I knew I wasn’t sleeping well, and watching mindless TV or Netflix wasn’t mental stimulation. (although I found I couldn’t look away, I saw the enormity of first-world problems plaguing our society.)

Regardless of age, we need mental stimulation to keep the brain firing. My boredom led me to feel unsettled, a little anxious and had some brain fog.  Boredom can appear as a symptom of depression, and I’m clear that wasn’t my issue.

I thought I’d share six ways to manage boredom.

  1. Identify the feeling of boredom and sit with it. Ponder it, explore any physical sensations associated with being bored, and decide just to let the feeling go.
  1. If you’re familiar with Mel Robbins’ book The Five-Second Rule, count 5-4-3-2-1 and decide to do anything to get yourself out of the boredom mindset. It could be something simple like going for a walk. You’ll get a rush from your feel-good hormone, dopamine. And who doesn’t want to feel good?
  1. Clear the clutter! Having too much stuff around you can suck the energy right out of you and cause overwhelming feelings without you even knowing it! You’d be amazed how clearing off your desk and tidying up can be a boost to your overall well-being.
  2. If you have a dog, take it out for an extra-long walk. Guess what, your dog gets bored too. If you don’t have a dog, take yourself for an extra-long walk and take time to notice the minor details in nature along the way. We all need to move!
  1. Be kind to yourself. I had to step back and lose the feeling of guilt I was having for not being in constant motion. Next time you feel like you need to do something, do it without judgment.
  1. Find a daily routine that fits your lifestyle. I believe most humans and animals function well with structure. It gives us purpose and fills our days with tasks so we can feel accomplished.

The decision is yours to succumb to the boredom or make a plan to combat it!

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