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Bored? 6 Tips for Jumpstarting Yourself

First aid for those blah, restless feelings.

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Boredom is maybe one of the strangest of feelings – a weird combination of listlessness and restlessness, a blandness, a graying of your daily life just a few steps up from the “why bother” of depression.

Here are some tips of getting yourself jumpstarted:

1. Sit. Whether the feeling of boredom creeps up on you or just suddenly descends, it’s easy to go on autopilot, drift towards your default behaviors, be it binge-watching or binge-eating, trying to kill time, kill the feeling. Instead, try slowing down. Sit down, take a couple of deep breaths, push aside the “shoulds," the you-hate-this-feeling thoughts, and wait. For what? To see what stirs up into a “want” that you feel in your gut, or an idea that has that twinge of excitement. Don’t scramble, stay put, give yourself the space to see what emerges.

2. Have a go-to list. The key here is to pull this together when you are in a good headspace, not bored. Write down activities that you enjoy and thought about trying and put the list on your refrigerator. Having the list at the ready counters those semi-panicky, restless, why-bother feelings that make it difficult for you to think on your feet or avoid slipping into default behaviors.

3. Get started. Pick an activity on your list that attracts your attention and start it even if you don’t quite feel like it. Commit to doing it for 15 to 30 minutes. Because starting is often the hardest hurdle, simply doing so may be all you need, once you get going, to feel engaged. If you find you can't, stop and either sit or try another activity.

4. Exercise. You don’t need to run five miles; even 10 minutes of aerobic exercise can kick up your energy and your endorphins, improving mood and stimulating your brain to think up new ideas.

5. See what's under the boredom. Boredom, like depression, is sometimes a cover for other stronger emotions that you aren’t able to identify. Here you ask yourself what else may be going on – are worried about something, angry, is there a problem nagging at you that you need to put to rest? Write down your thoughts and see where they lead. Take action on the problem. Sometimes your boredom is simply being tired, and a short nap is enough to reboot your mood.

6. Realize that this will change. If none of the above seems to be working, don’t disasterize. Realize that like the weather, if you do nothing at all your mood will eventually change on its own.

More from Robert Taibbi L.C.S.W.
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