What is the first thing that comes to your mind after hearing the word “holiday?” What is your immediate emotional response? To me, and probably the majority of working people and students worldwide, “holiday” and any of its synonyms such as “vacation” or “break time”, should elicit positive feelings such as - elation, happiness, excitement, etc.Having days, weeks, maybe months off from whatever schedules and obligations you have in your life, seems to be the perfect time to heal, relax, and recharge by taking that limited but unstructured period of time to carry out your hobbies or even to try something new and exciting (like crossing out "bungee-jumping" from your bucket list). The point is, you suddenly have a lot of time on your hands - and in
your hands, are the endless possibilities...and sometimes, that’s exactly the problem.Throughout my teenage years, I’ve been faced with two major, time-related dilemmas: 1) having too little time
as I try to juggle studying for exams, finishing my assignments, and managing my complicated — I’m sure many can relate to this — social life, and 2) having too much time
as I’m suddenly faced with one, two months’ worth of vacation, a million possibilities running through my head, but without the drive to actually start anything – let alone continue cultivating it as a long-term plan or hobby.
Both of these dilemmas lead to one, particularly and annoyingly persistent emotion: boredom.
I feel bored because I’m constantly doing things, regardless of whether they’re supposed to be productive or otherwise, which I find dull, monotonous, and uninteresting under the constant pressure that I either put on myself, by my peers, or by my seniors. I also feel bored because I can do anything I want during my free time, yet I’m either too tired to push myself into doing something productive like I had to do during the school year, or because I actually do not care about doing anything at all — I should
do something to pass the time, and this pressure makes me lose interest in the things I used to love. Hobbies become a burden, just like schoolwork and exams; this coupled with the anxiety that arises from not doing anything or not being able to find anything fun to do are just one of the results of what Psychology Today
terms as “Adolescent Boredom.”
According to this article, Adolescent Boredom
stems from the process of maturing into an adolescent itself. By shedding childhood hobbies, dreams, and attachments, one may find themselves at a loss of identity, meaning, and purpose:
“empty of old pursuits and pastimes, lots of new things attract adolescent wonder and curiosity, but few things seem to sustain interest very long. Disenchanted with old pursuits, young adolescents are more easily distracted and more easily bored.”
The article also emphasizes the importance of addressing and dealing with boredom, for it may lead to feelings such as anxiety, depression, and helplessness, which can cause teenagers to seek harmful ways to mediate this boredom in the long run.So, what can yo do to deal with boredom? How can you find your identity and purpose? Perhaps by restoring an old hobby or actively pursuing a new one, and, in the process, decrease the boredom that’s been holding you back from experiencing a sense of fulfillment in your life?
1. Boredom is a chance to find your purpose and motivation.
Now, this first solution may sound less than optimal and annoyingly philosophical to some (including me at first), but if you’re serious about wanting to feel content and less like there’s nothing you can do to steer your life towards a meaningful direction then I can assure you from personal experience that having this optimistic mindset does wonders in progressing through your journey. Boredom comes from a lack of stimulation, hence why we often try to distract ourselves with just about any activity we can get our hands on; in this modern age, that distraction often comes in the form of excessively playing with our phones or staring for hours on end at TV or computer screens as sources of entertainment, only for us to feel even more lost than when we started when those activities no longer interest us. It then becomes harder to quell our boredom with different, more stimulating activities such as sports, reading, cooking, and so on, as it seems difficult and requires too much effort when compared to playing with the gadgets that everyone conveniently carries around in this day and age.However, boredom can provide exactly the motivation you need to start those relatively productive and more meaningful activities. If you’re trying to distract yourself from being bored by constantly watching videos or checking your social media and whatnot, take a second to put down your gadget, sit back, and look at your surroundings. Your first few — or perhaps first million —thoughts would probably be something along the lines of “I’m bored,” “I want to do something,” and “I really want to finish that video of two cats dancing to Michael Jackson.” That’s absolutely understandable, but if you do your best to hold out through this persistent barrage of boredom-induced thinking, then you’ll find yourself coming up with various solutions to stimulate your mind and body - simple or sometimes crazy and ambitious ideas of what you actually want to try doing to pass the time. This leads to our second idea, that:
2. Boredom allows you to be creative.
By letting yourself fully experience the dull serenity of not doing anything in particular, you’ll be able to come up with ideas like “I want to write a novel,” “I want to dance to my favorite songs like nobody’s watching,” or even just the simple yet, healing activity of “I want to catch up with my friends and have a meaningful conversation about my situation in life.”Boredom is a blank canvas, and hobbies and activities are the various colors with which you may decorate that white space to paint just about anything. The sheer number of colors and the fact that it’s up to you to create a picture out of nothing may be daunting and terrifying, but once you start, it’s almost a given that you won't be able to stop. Even if you switch to a different palette halfway, or notice that the picture you’re actually painting is not what you had in mind, it’s alright - for a picture does not have to be concrete or abstract, colorful or black-and-white — you don’t have to fit into any category because it is your own piece of work.
The most important thing is that you act out immediately.
Dip your brush in any color, press the tip on the canvas, and start painting. In other words,
the moment you think of something you want to do, regardless of how simple or over-the-top it is, drop your phone, get out of bed, and start doing it. “I want to write a novel”
: open your notebook to an empty page or open a word processor in your computer, and start writing anything. You don’t need to think about vocabulary, grammar, or have a harmonious storyline at this point. Just write what you want to in the moment, and once you’re fully integrated within that mindset of a writer working on a novel, you can then start to polish your story or play around with the content to create something you are truly happy with.
“I want to dance to my favorite songs like nobody’s watching”
: easy, just turn on a song or set your playlist on shuffle, and start moving your body to the music. Whether you are moving to the rhythm and following an existing choreography, or are offbeat and busting out your own moves the way your body sees fit, it is totally up to you.“I want to catch up with my friends and have a meaningful conversation about my situation in life”
: sometimes, sharing what you’re currently feeling to the people you care about and love is the first step towards dealing with boredom and the anxiety or desperation that may have stemmed from it.
Good friends and non-toxic parents will listen to your worries as well as acknowledge the importance of supporting you through your situation, even if they have not experienced the same emotions themselves.
If you feel you have nobody to turn to or are afraid of being given insensitive advice (“why don’t you just do something,” for example, is merely oversimplifying the problem), then turning to strangers is
a viable option.I don’t mean going to strangers on the street or calling up random people whose numbers you’ve found on the Internet — boundaries and common sense are still in effect even when you’re struggling with boredom after all. I’m actually referring to online communities and self-help applications
, which have proliferated during the last few years due to an increase in smart-phones, the rise of technology, and the now omnipresent entity that is the Internet. In particular, the lattermost case has allowed people who have similar experiences to band together, forming supportive communities that motivate its members into actively improving their mental health. Through writing and sharing diary entries, chatting in small, private groups within the larger community, and putting together charts to show the progress of your journey towards gaining a positive outlook on life, it may assure you that you’re doing well and subsequently motivate you into continuing the activities you’ve chosen to do.It should be noted then, that having gadgets and technology as mediums for fun and meaningful activities is justifiable, for you’re not merely losing yourself in the empty, endless cycle of watching videos and TV broadcasts and/or scrolling through other people’s lives through social media platforms;
you are actually finding your purpose and motivation in life by utilizing what you already have in hand.
It’s alright, of course, to relax and use your phone to watch movies or check your social media accounts once in a while; everyone needs a moments of temporary relief, even as you’re suffering from boredom and are trying hard to keep up a packed schedule of activities to deal with said issue. However, moderation and limiting your use of technology outside of their roles as mediums for carrying out your hobbies is essential, for, as it was mentioned before, letting the silence and inactivity of doing nothing can actually provide the creative space you need to foster new ideas that’ll set you off on the journey towards decreasing the boredom in your life.We have already established how having too little or too much time can be a possible reason for boredom. As such, setting limits and scheduling activities are effective counteracts to the latter situation. It is up to you how tight this schedule is and how specific you want to get. For example, you may want to try waking up early every day, followed by making your own breakfast and an hour-long exercise before reading at least five pages of a novel of your choice.
Create a schedule that’ll allow you to make use of and that won’t leave you feeling intimidated by the extensive period of time you have in your hands, but don’t constrict your freedom to the point that you’re constantly feeling stressed and exhausted as you’re carrying it out day-by-day.
Make sure to stick to this routine once you’ve decided on it, perhaps making a few suitable changes as you go along, and you may just end up with a renewed sense of purpose: that you’re doing something meaningful each and every day, and/or that you’re slowly but surely working towards a particular direction instead of being stuck in one spot. Organizing your free time in order to counteract boredom also proves this next fact, that:
3. Boredom helps adolescents to mature.
The same can be true for adults, for maturity is a quality that continues to grow as you gain more experience in life. In particular, creating your own schedule, pushing yourself to stick to it, and learning to balance your time between relaxing and more physically, artistically, or academically stimulating activities are basically practices for increasing your independence. You yourself, are in charge of organizing your private life and setting up social situations to take care of your mental, emotional, and physical wellbeing. Although it may sound simple and insignificant, having these little practices are what ultimately contributes to your overall character growth and your quality of life.Additionally, Adolescent Boredom
occurs due to the sudden urge to abandon one’s own dreams, hobbies, and habits that are deemed too childish for an adolescent to possess, and this, according to Psychology Today
, results in what is called “loose ends”
, or a detachment from childhood when one is not and does not yet feel that they’re a mature, full-fledged adult. So, how can an adolescent or teenager cope with the effects of these loose ends
?Well, boredom provides the peace and quiet you need to come up with creative and impulsive (and, hopefully, not dangerous) ideas to pass the time. Some of these ideas may be childish in nature or relates back to what you usually did as a kid, for example, playing board games, swimming in a pool with floaties on your arms and legs, or building a snowman despite it not being winter, so that you eventually decide to construct it out of twigs, leaves, and/or papier-mâché (use what you already have in hand, remember?). Well, if that’s what you want to do, and if that makes you feel happy and/or fulfilled, so much so that you decide to include it in your daily schedule, then that is a perfectly sound method of coping with boredom. Instead of finding supplementary connections of more mature and productive hobbies to match with your age, you’re allowed to actually rediscover old connections – to recover your childhood dreams, hobbies, and habits, and carry them out with the zeal, passion, and earnestness of your more experienced self – to negate the effects of loose ends
.Reaching maturity is a lifelong process, so if through following the solutions in this article and the steps included in each lets you rediscover and accept your childhood principles and purposes as a way of dealing with boredom, then there’s really no reason for you to rush into being an adult. Just look around you; chances are, even the most mature adults you know have trouble staying level-headed and independent all the time. Maturity comes with experience, and though it does take a little effort to reach, do remember that you have a lot of time, and as long as you’re actively doing your best to not let boredom take over, you’ll slowly come to learn what it is to be an adult, what it is that makes you happy, and what it means to enjoy your life to the fullest without being pressured by negative emotions, external influence, and your own expectations of what you should do and how you should be.Boredom may be hard at first, but it can definitely lead to positive outcomes. Just remember to be kind to yourself, work hard but don’t overwork to the point where you you exhaust yourself both physically and mentally, and know that there are people who understand and are willing to support you on your journey towards happiness. Life isn’t always eventful and exciting, but that doesn’t mean you can’t feel content about the little things. Contentment and happiness are both cures for boredom after all, and as long as you’re serious about not wanting to let yourself sink into boredom, these two will eventually come to you. Last but not least, I want all of us to understand that
we are not our boredom,
and that with the help of a positive mindset, the love and support of the people around us and the flow of time, we can learn to become better people who lead happy lives and can support others to reach that very same goal.