I left home one day to run errands and decided to leave my phone charging on the counter. The amplifier in my car has problems, so I keep my radio off.
I got gas. No email to check.
I got a carwash. No Facebook to peruse.
I waited 90 long seconds at a stop light. No podcast or music to entertain me.
I rarely feel the boredom during these micro episodes of “nothing to do” because I don’t have to. That doesn’t mean I’m not bored. I’ve just found something to avoid it.
Like you, I have a lot on my calendar. To admit to being bored sounds ridiculous. I wondered during that short errand run, how is it possible to be both busy and bored?
Boredom is a normal part of life, it’s just that today we rarely have to acknowledge it. For example, working on a project you’re not enthused about? There’s certainly a tasty treat in the break room that’s more exciting than that spreadsheet or report. Or, a quick look at your phone will do the trick. Another hit of dopamine and you’re off to the races!
Eating when bored is easy.
But I think there’s a downside to that. Boredom can be a useful reprieve from the busyness. It’s a chance to clear our minds, to brainstorm or visualize. (We can even come up with a blog post topic!) Using boredom as an opportunity to think clearly can be a valuable exercise.
I regularly coach clients around experiencing boredom without distracting from it. Eating, drinking, going online…these are all quick, easy boredom fixes that can have negative consequences. And the thing is, we don’t necessarily recognize it. Meaning, we don’t realize what we’re missing.
Keeping ourselves busy – whether with work, entertainment or “vegging out” – keeps us from “hearing” ourselves. Our true selves. Any angst we feel about something in our life never has time to surface…until it’s a huge hairball we can’t ignore. Then, it feels like it came out of nowhere.
Living our best life – including being at our ideal weight – means we experience all emotions, without distracting. Boredom, sadness, disappointment…these are useful for our growth and well-being. Trying to avoid or paper over them with calories and Cabernet only gets us more of what we don’t want. If we want to avoid eating when bored, we have to be willing to feel bored.
So, I have a challenge for you. Set up a specific five-minute period to experience boredom. Maybe it’s being alone in the car with nothing playing. Or waiting in line at the grocery store. Use that time to breathe and reflect. To feel bored. And to be okay with it. The more you practice, the less of a pull all those distractions will have on you.
Share with me below the results of your boredom experiment. And join me over at FB if you’d like to enjoy food, love life and lose weight!
P.S. Check out my Top 50 Ways to Stay Healthy During the Holidays (and not gain weight!).