Resolving Boredom Once and for All

How to overcome boredom long-term

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I’ve only experienced boredom for extended amount of time due to illness. And even then, I was able to find ways to resolve it. Boredom itself is not the issue, but how you deal with it. If you’re bored all the time, then it is a sign that something needs to be changed.

Almost always, the best thing to do is to focus on having the experiences that you want to have. This is tricky for some people, as they have never really thought about it or have been distracted by what others have told them to do.

If you don’t know what you want, I’d recommend writing a list of 10 ideas every day. Write anything, even if it sounds like a horrible idea. Honestly, bad ideas are just as helpful as good ideas, because they help reveal what is important to you.

If you really can’t figure it out, just do a quick Google search. Search for lists of hobbies. If you don’t have much money, look for free activities to do at home or in your local area. Pick out the ones that seem to be a good idea, or at least spark a little bit of interest.

Then, take action on one of these ideas every day. Even if one idea seems unappealing but perhaps is important to you (e.g. exercise), break it down into the simplest of first steps, and just try it. This is the most important part of resolving boredom long-term, simply taking action.

In some cases, you may need to engage in more self-care. That includes taking care of personal hygiene, eating regular and nutritious meals, drinking enough water, and getting enough sleep. It could also be extended to talking to a friend, meditating, stretching, wearing nice clothes every day, positive affirmations in the mirror, etc.

When I was on certain medications, I felt much more tired than I ever was. I also was distressed by “hearing voices”. I had trouble doing some basic self-care, such as cooking all my own meals or even taking regular showers. But when I focused on a few key self-care habits, I felt better in general. I tried not to push myself to avoid burnout, but if I ever noticed I was bored, I’d ask myself what I could do for myself that would be nice/enjoyable.

Entertainment alone does not cure boredom in a long-term, at least not for myself. If you could find ways to be actively engaged such as creating or learning, then your interests will evolve over time.

You may also notice that getting started on a new activity is the tricky part. I went through such a phase when first learning how to code in Java, or how to speak Korean. But by putting a little bit of time each session, I eventually got to the point where I was deeply engaged for some time.

I think in this day and age, it’s easy to feel drawn to immediate gratification. We hear this a lot, but it’s true. You may need to put in enough time to decide if something is for you or not. Heck, you may even find it interesting much later in life.

Some people are constantly distracted, yet still bored. If this is you, then you may want to consider a detox of sorts. If you’re distracted by your phone all the time, consider not using your phone for a period of 24 hours, perhaps even once a week. It might suck at first, but maybe you’ll come to realize that there were other activities that you would rather do.

Or maybe not. Maybe you’ve been living this way from a young age. That brings me back to my earlier point of, you could take action and try something different from usual. Even if you find that you’re bored, you’ll at least be able to tell in the first minute or so, and could always move onto something else. And if after 100 ideas you’re bored with everything you do, then try another 100. Keep going until you reach 1000.

Wow, that sounds dreadful, doing 1000 things and still being bored. In which case, you might want to check in with someone to make sure that this isn’t related to a chronic condition or imbalance of some sorts. Some medications can, for example, reduce dopamine levels. Some people have deficiencies that make their bodies feel whack.

But for the rest of you, if you’re simply overwhelmed at the thought of doing so many things and still possibly being bored, just do one thing. And if you still don’t know what to do, then I’ll tell you what to do myself. Start at 1 for day 1 (today). Each day, go through one activity. Hopefully, something clicks. But if not, contact me and let me know what happened. (Note, most of these items involve active engagement, not just passive consumption, for reasons that I may come back to later.)

1. Write – Could be blogging, journaling, whatever… Don’t know what to write about? Try a dream log, a sleep log, a mood log, or even a food log. Write a bucket list. Search for writing prompts online, or find those books/journals that ask you to write something every day. Or, simply engage in freewriting and use it as a meditative process. To freewrite, you could set a timer (perhaps a minute to start), and then keep writing (or typing) without stopping or pausing. Avoiding going back to correct mistakes or edit.

2. Draw – It could be shapes, or a self-portrait, or a silly comic. You could even trace an image. Need an idea? Draw a sky with clouds, and fill each cloud with fun, surprises, or affirmations. 🙂

3. Color – I tried coloring as a coping skill back when my experience with “hearing voices” was more intense. It could be pretty relaxing. Well, unless you’re trying to be perfect with it. I believe I used these set of markers (at the time, not any more than $10). They’re pretty good and are still working a year later, though some of the labels have disappeared, and they also sometimes bleed through the pages. Honestly, any set of markers, colored pencils or crayons would do fine. Even paint works fine. (Here, I selected a page for you.)

4. Walk – Go for a walk around your neighborhood. I personally don’t recommend the gym, but you could go there too, and maybe listen to some music while you’re walking. Observe your environment. See if anything catches your interest. You could even try going for walks in new places or new neighborhoods, to see what is happening. You could even people-watch. Start with just stepping out of your house, and try the 5-4-3-2-1 grounding exercise. Name 5 things you can see, 4 things you can hear, 3 things you can feel, 2 things you can smell, and 1 thing you can taste. (Mix these up if you want.)

5. Cook or try new food – Apparently, a lot of people don’t know how to cook. So, be careful with this one! Obviously, don’t touch hot oil or hot pans. Learn how to use a knife properly, or start by using a plastic kitchen knife. If you’re resistant to cooking in general, try preparing a simple meal. Buy ingredients for building a sandwich, a fruit bowl, a salad, a smoothie, etc. And if that fails, well then order out, but try something different from usual. Stuck? Order or make a pizza with a topping you haven’t tried before.

6. Game – Play Among Us with friends. No friends who can play right now? Join a public lobby. Hate the interactions? Turn your settings to quick chat mode only. Hate Among Us? Try any game in general. And if you don’t care much about the social element, just play a game by yourself. There’s so many free ones on your computer, phone or tablet. But if you have no clue what to start with, play Among Us first. 😀

7. Learn – There’s literally so much you can learn online. You could buy a book if you’re extra committed. Some topics I’ve learned more about post-uni (some that I’ve dabbled in previously): Korean, Hanja, piano, music production, web design, passive income, CBT, psychology, forming habits, history, public performance, investing, etc. You don’t have to go to those websites with courses either. It could be as simple as reading a blog article or watching an informative video. There’s a bunch of language-learning apps and whatnot that you could explore as well. Stuck on what to learn? Learn how to set up your own blog using a free service, such as WordPress. If you already have a blog, learn how to do SEO.

8. Record a video or audio – Record yourself talking, or film something. Or, just record your voice, talking about anything or perhaps singing. You could even take a series of photographs and piece them together into a video. Want to create your first YouTube video? Share 3 fun facts about yourself.

9. Create a vision board – Is there anything you want in life, be it an experience or something materialistic? Make a vision board. Or, just make a general mood board (maybe with your favorite things or that has a certain vibe to it). Even a collage of stuff is fine, maybe interesting quotes or items.

10. Collect – Stamps, trading cards, Among Us memorabilia, stones… normally, I’d advise against physical collections (especially if they get out of control). But hey, you might discover a new hobby by trying this. I sometimes collect stickers to use for journaling. Digitally, I have collections of places I’d like to check out and whatnot.

The reason I chose these activities is because they’re relatively easy to do and start with for a broad spectrum of people. They typically involve resources already available to most people. And, most involve some active engagement.

It’s easy to tack on reading, watching movies, listening to music, etc. But from what I’ve observed and read, boredom is not typically solved in the long-term by consumption alone. It typically helps to be part of the creation process in your experiences rather than just passively observing.

If anyone ends up trying my list, let me know how it goes. 🙂

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