Turning Mindless into Mindful
Why we need to be bored more often.
When our parents and grandparents were kids, they may have complained of boredom more often than children do in the younger generations. They had to find a way to stay connected with friends, play games, build toys and learn. It took much more effort to not be bored.
Nowadays, kids and adults are able to access technology from just about anywhere. We have the constant ability to stay connected with family, friends, and work. We have no idea what it’s like to even get bored since we can fill our time with e-mails, social media, selfies, games and watching shows.
Because of this, our brains are actively thinking and trying to process all of the stimulation that surrounds us. It barely ever gets a break or even enough darkness to have a decent night’s sleep. This means we are producing more stress hormones since our nervous systems don’t have a chance to slow down and recover. When we are constantly thinking and doing, it is not allowing us to relax, breathe and rejuvenate our minds and bodies fully.
This is why it is more important than ever to be bored once in awhile. When we are bored, we give ourselves the time and space to be present and in the moment. When we do this, our adrenaline slows down and we are less prone to future health issues caused by stress and overthinking.
Here are some tips on how to be bored more often.
Take a social media break.
It is becoming more known that we are addicted to our cell phones and especially to social media apps. Whenever we have a moment to spare, we are picking up our phones and scrolling through to see what is going on in other people’s lives. We may even lose track of time and be on the app longer than we anticipated. Try deleting the app on your phone to see how much time it frees up. Allow yourself that time to be bored rather than liking and commenting on things that don’t even really matter to you all that much. You may be surprised at how much time you were wasting every day. You may also notice how distracted you were to the life that is right in front of you rather than the lives you see through a screen. This will give your mind and eyes a much needed break. It may be uncomfortable at first, but it will give you awareness into how much you are addicted to your phone.
Get out in nature.
Once you set aside your phone, time will seem to free up a bit. It is highly recommended to spend more time in nature among the vibrant colors, fresh air and calming sounds. It is a natural place to unwind, breathe, and get grounded. Our bodies and minds are meant to be in nature more often than sitting behind a desk or curled up on the couch. Spend a few minutes every week walking the beach, sitting in the woods, or jogging in your neighborhood. Time away from a screen, chores and deadlines will allow you a chance to tap back into your body and quiet your mind. Being bored outside is much better than being bored inside. You can bring a real book to read or a journal to write down your experience in nature. Bring a loved one along with you to enjoy a sunset, look at the moon and stars or listen to the waves and birds.
Sit in quiet solitude.
We rarely make the time to sit in quiet solitude. Whether you have a meditation practice or not, studies show that quiet time to breathe and reflect is essential when trying to reduce stress, anxiety and overwhelm. Start by setting up a space in or outside your home that is comfortable to sit down. It can be as simple as a pillow on the floor or a grassy spot in your yard. Set a timer for five minutes and close your eyes and breathe deeply. Try to do this at least once per day. Pay attention to how you feel with this time for solitude. At first it may feel boring or difficult to not be distracted, but give yourself permission to have this break so you can be more productive throughout the rest of your day. This space alone allows you to not be influenced by other people and technology. Make it a priority to be bored and focus just on yourself for a few minutes per day.
Create a routine.
Routines can be helpful when trying to create healthier habits in your schedule. There are always going to be things that need to get done, so it’s beneficial to create a routine that allows you time to be bored. For example, instead of picking up your phone when you wake up in the morning, you can spend five minutes stretching, making tea, cooking, journaling or breathing. Allow yourself a chance to just be present. You will feel less rushed and overwhelmed by taking that time first thing. In the evening, you can create time to unwind without tackling your to-do list all night. Try to sip water while looking out the window, take a lavender bubble bath, read in bed or listen to music. The important thing is to stay focused on the moment no matter where you are or who you are with. You will need to determine boundaries with your time and energy to make your routine last.
Time with family and friends.
The human connection is so valuable to our well-being. Instead of being bored alone, we can spend time with family or friends. You can cook dinner together at home, set up a picnic in the park, schedule a weekend camping trip, have a deep conversation, or have a bonfire in the backyard. If you have children or pets, make time to be bored with them. Use your imaginations and make up a new game. Go for a walk around the neighborhood. Determine rules around phone and television use and give yourselves the chance to be okay with any awkward silence that may occur. Once you allow your brain to function in boredom more often, you may notice your memory, creativity, social skills and intuition strengthening rather than relying on technology for every little thing. You will also deepen your relationships instead of your loved ones feeling ignored or not worthy of your attention.
It is important to realize that being bored more often is actually a benefit to your body, mind, life and loved ones. In this day of quick advancing technology, it is a gift to find the space and solitude to feel bored. We have spent years keeping busy and distracted, but it has cost many people their health and energy. We are uncomfortable with boredom so making time to practice it will give you a chance to get used to the feeling.