Being cooped up in the house indefinitely can present some serious challenges. Initially, it’s lots of fun but then, as the days wear on, boredom can take over. When you have little kids, you have to be on the ball and creative. Not so when you’re empty-nesters or your kids are older and aren’t really keen on spending lots of time with you. What can you do to use the time wisely and in a fulfilling way?
Boredom Doesn’t Equate to Laziness
So, what do you do when you’re bored?
Are you creative? Do you find something to do that is fulfilling, or just filling – like feeding yourself on junk food or glutting on TV?
If you are feeling bored during these days when nobody is running around outside in wild abandon, chances are you may be feeling lost or incarcerated by your inability to find something to do that really interests you. It’s easy to see how some people confuse boredom with laziness. They look similar, but they are really quite different: Laziness, when we draw pictures in our minds, has images of lounging around in pj’s or sweats with no desire to put forth energy into anything. Boredom speaks more of feeling restless and the need to DO SOMETHING – but nothing seems to be compelling or motivating. Kind of like going to the fridge and not finding anything to eat. (As a matter of fact, that’s exactly what some people do – but we’ll talk about that later). In any event, it’s a feeling of being STUCK.
How Do I Get Motivated?
This might surprise you but the reality is that you can break out. Think – breaking out of prison. How does one break out of prison? How does your dog get out of your fenced yard? Right – by tunneling down.
First of all, you have to give yourself permission to actually feel the boredom. Maybe you already think you do … maybe even too much. Maybe. But really, you might do any number of things to get away from yourself (like surfing the net; watching TV; listening to music), and in those in-between moments of distraction you are overwhelmed with the feeling of boredom.
Doing these things indicates that you are not allowing yourself to feel bored.
Allowing yourself to actually feel bored is to simply say yes to the feeling and sit down with it, especially when you just want to run from it. Let it in rather than running to find something to distract yourself with – return to that very uncomfortable feeling of being bored. As you do this, you will have an opportunity to examine it closer and consider whether you are really unmotivated or is there something else going on that you haven’t taken the time to address or that you’re running from?
Boredom Serves a Purpose
Boredom is a coping mechanism many people use because being able to disconnect from the world is a great way to protect oneself from difficult situations or emotions. Maybe you’re feeling uncomfortable, sad, hurt, angry, even scared. It could be a bad situation. I know many people right now who not only feel forced into staying locked into a situation with no escape, a situation they’ve been wanting to run away from for some time, but now they have no alternative. In order to solve the problem, hide from the pain, or push it all away from the heart or mind, the answer that seems to work is: UNPLUG. That way nothing can penetrate and hurt. This, by the way, is not a conscious decision. It’s a protective mechanism.
In the next article we’ll talk about some ways to deal with boredom that might be surprising.