Anxiously Bored

Almost exactly two years ago, I had a professor at Arizona State suggest to me that the best way to handle boredom is to do nothing. Don’t scroll through Facebook. Don’t flip through television channels. Don’t try to draw or find music. Don’t. Do. Anything.

It’s amazing what not doing anything can do.

I’ve dealt with some pretty serious boredom recently and the hardest thing to do is nothing. I find myself wanting to find some creative activity to fill the time. Instead, I’m taking my professor’s advice and I made a realization: boredom is my mind’s answer to being overwhelmed.

Now, there are people who legitimately have nothing to do and are basically wasting away by being bored. I’m not one of those. There’s always something to do; it’s a matter of if I want to do it or not. I actively avoid things that stress me out, so writing has been on my “avoid” list. There are a few things at work I’m avoiding. The question becomes: what do you do when you don’t want to do what you’re supposed to?

That’s where my boredom comes from, so now I’m taking time to just be still. It’s doing wonders for the anxiety. Saturday was bad, so I sat and stared at a wall for close to an hour before I figured out what I really wanted to do. Sunday was hella productive. Today is more like Saturday. I don’t really want to do much because the thought of everything I need to do makes me want to curl into a ball and hide under my desk. Combating that desire by sitting still takes more strength than I thought it would.

I’m pretty sure this is 90% just rambling, but I’m curious–why do you guys get bored? Is it really that you don’t have enough to do, or do you actually have too much and you need to disconnect? Does it tie into anxiety for you?

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8 thoughts on “Anxiously Bored

  1. I don’t know how to be bored. Boredom is to me as water is to the Wicked Witch of the West – it’s my ADD’s fault, but it’s searingly painful for me not to be doing something.
    Of course, I also can’t focus on a darn thing either unless it’s highly engaging.

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  2. A friend suggested to me that boredom is a sign of intelligence, a need for stimulation. Like you, I’m often bored by the prospect of all those things I don’t want to do and can’t decide which of those things I should do first.

    I don’t happen to agree with your professor’s advice. Doing nothing only makes me feel worse. I find getting up and moving my body at least takes my mind off my mind, to a point. Usually I go for mindless but necessary activity, like cooking, cleaning, or organizing things.

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    • Cleaning is my go-to when I’m at home, not that you can tell. I’m a tornado 80% of the time.

      My professor was very focused on meditation, so we spent the beginning of each class sitting in silence, focusing on our breathing, etc. Being forced to do that helped a lot with my tolerance of doing nothing. It doesn’t feel natural, though. I want to somehow be productive, but at a certain point, it just doesn’t happen.

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      • I believe in meditation, too, but it’s not “doing nothing.” It is focused concentration on breathing, or on other methods of being present in the now. Candle flames, for instance. It’s a way to calm the chatter of a restless mind.

        For what it’s worth, I learn a lot from the Seth series of channeled books by Jane Roberts. I’ve always been a skeptical reader, and have pieced together my world view from readings in every category, taking what seems valid from each. Seth claims “the point of power is in the present,” and that relaxation is creativity’s greatest friend. At the moment, I’m reading “The Magical Approach.” Here, Seth distinguishes between “natural time,” as in the seasons, and “clock time or assembly line time.”

        Creativity cannot be forced into clock time, although in our culture we expect that. He says worrying about it is destructive.

        For what that’s worth. It has helped me.

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