How to deal with boredom to reduce stress
Are you climbing the walls these days, pushing hard to overcome the boredom of staying home more? Most of us feel nervous and a little depressed.
We wonder: What are these overwhelming feelings? They are subtle, but powerful. For example, you may feel anxious about the future, sad for what you cannot accomplish now, and angry for being controlled by a health crisis none of us anticipated.
If you reverse some of the boredom, however, this can improve your mental well-being. The truth is, overcoming boredom takes strong willpower. You have to mentally "coach" yourself to get off the couch, get a plan in place each day, and keep rolling.
These tips can help you get a handle on boredom:
• Deliberately do something a little different every day. For example, set aside an hour to begin reading a new book. Or, rearrange the furniture in one room that needs attention.
• Keep a good schedule. For example, get up at 6:30 and go to bed at 10:30. Pencil in key things you want to accomplish. An erratic schedule will make you feel the day didn't matter. Poorly planned days makes them all run together, so time seems to fly by with nothing standing out as important.
• Get some sun each day, if possible. Try your best to spend at least 15 minutes outdoors. The sun will trigger your body to produce needed chemicals, such as serotonin, for good mental health.
• Do something you've been putting off. Call your grandparents or your nieces and nephews. Order some much-needed paint to remodel your bathroom. Or, pressure-wash your grungy driveway.
The new normal means we have to use nothing short of dogged determination. We have to resist the urge to drink five cups of coffee for breakfast or watch 10 straight hours of TV. Moving our bodies around is critical for physical flexibility and good blood flow.
"My husband and I were getting in a lot of arguments until this past week," says an accountant we'll call Tiffany. "We've both been working from home and bored out of our minds. When people are bored, they will fight! So, we made a change. Every afternoon about 1 p.m., we go for a short run."
Tiffany says she and her husband quickly learned how much they needed exercise. "Our joints were frozen and we've both gained 10 pounds while we've stayed indoors recently. Our run started with fast walking, 30 seconds of jogging, and walking again. Now, we're getting a little more up to speed."
She reports they are not quite as bored or feeling as argumentative as they were. "Having our little exercise routine on our daily calendar makes us feel we're more in control," Tiffany declares. "Boredom strikes when you can't find anything that resembles a goal — or it strikes when you just feel tired. Running helps us think more clearly and feel we're on top of things."
Judi Light Hopson is author of the stress management book, "Cooling Stress Tips." She is also executive director of USA Wellness Cafe at www.usawellnesscafe.org.