I’m amazed by the number of my fellow adults that are bored. I hear it all the time. “I’m so bored. There’s nothing to do.” They whine this refrain like it’s someone else’s job to entertain them or, worse, like boredom is something to be proud of. They use it justify hours spent watching TV, trawling social media, shopping, or playing with mindless apps and games on their phone. “If I just had stuff to do, I wouldn’t watch so much TV.”
Now, I’m not saying that you have to be doing stuff all the time. There is something to be said for downtime and mindless activities. But if all you do in life is go to work and then come home to complain about how bored you are, there’s a problem.
Here’s the thing: Adults aren’t children. Not only is whining unattractive (not that it’s pretty in a kid, but you can at least sort of excuse it), it doesn’t solve the problem. And boredom is a really easy problem to solve for an adult. The answer is: Find something to do.
Unlike kids, adults aren’t confined to our rooms. We can venture further afield to relieve our boredom. Adults don’t have to wait for someone to drive us somewhere (usually) or wait for our mom to arrange a playdate. We should be able to entertain ourselves. Here are some ideas to relive boredom, do something fun and/or productive, and stop the whining.
- Learn something. Brush up on your skills for work or learn something new like a language, an instrument, a sport, or how to cook. There are plenty of low cost classes at local community programs, free online courses at sites like Coursera, or you can teach yourself using materials borrowed from the library or found on YouTube. (I like Duolingo for languages as it’s free and intuitive.)
- Catch up on your chores. If you’re bored, you have time to do all those things you always say you never have time to do. Clean out the closet, declutter your drawers, or trim the hedges. It’s not fun but it’s productive, and you probably won’t be bored anymore.
- Take up a hobby. Think of what you might like to do and then try it. So what if you’re not great at first? No one ever is a great golfer, artist, musician, knitter, or whatever the first time out. That’s sort of the point. You start at the beginning and spend time working your way up. If you enjoy it, seeing yourself improve is where the fun really lies.
- Volunteer. There are many types of volunteer opportunities, ranging from in-person jobs to virtual volunteering. You can volunteer in almost any area of interest. You’ll not only get past your boredom when you volunteer, you’ll help others.
- Take a tour of your own town. We tend to take our hometowns for granted and assume there’s nothing fun to do. Usually that’s not true. Visit your local visitor’s center and check out the offerings. Think about what you’d want to see or do if you were visiting and then go do that.
- Make contact. Maybe you’re not really bored, but starved for human contact. Call or email a relative or friend you haven’t talked to in ages. Join a new group or go visit a new neighbor. Spending time with others can be a great way to get over being bored.
- Work more. If you’re really bored, you can work more and maybe earn some extra money. Volunteer for extra shifts or overtime. Get a part-time job or start your own business.
- Exercise. You don’t need to join a gym, although this can help you meet new people which gives you an additional anti-boredom weapon. Just go for a walk or a bike ride. Go to the park and play Frisbee. Do a workout DVD or exergame. If you’re moving, you’re probably not bored.
- Find free/cheap entertainment. There are tons of free things to do in most towns. You just have to be willing to look for them. Most are not heavily publicized and you may have to do some digging, but the rewards can be worth it.
- Go to the library. The library is a treasure trove of boredom busters. In addition to books (which are prime boredom busting weapons), most offer classes, activities, events, author visits/readings, DVD rentals, book clubs, movie nights, and other fun things to do. Go and see what your library has on tap.
- Play. Play some board games. Go outside and run around on the lawn with your kids. Stage a neighborhood volleyball tournament. Go bowling. Build a model. Color. Find stuff that’s just silly fun and do that.
- Daydream. Sometimes being bored isn’t a bad thing. Our brains need downtime. Spend some time doodling in a notebook, sitting on the porch watching the world go by, or walking in nature. Daydreaming frees up your creativity and lets you work through problems. Learn to recognize the difference between true boredom and giving your brain a break.
If you’re really bored and nothing easy seems to relieve it, you need to ask yourself what’s at the root of the problem. Maybe you’re not so much bored as desperately unhappy. Maybe you’re using mindless shopping or TV watching to mask some other sort of pain. Those types of problems are different from simple boredom and they won’t be resolved by taking up a hobby or learning to dance. If that’s the case, you might need to see a counselor or find some other way to deal with your unhappiness. If you’re simply bored, though, there are plenty of things you can do to relieve it. And whining isn’t one of them.
(Photo courtesy of sipa)