What to do when boredom strikes

Boredom isn’t a topic normally discussed in society because, as a people, we seem to have some kind of addiction to being busy. It is legitimate to spend time in work, education and bringing up a family, but are we equipped on those long summer days to know what to do in our down time? Should we keep avoiding it? This is, right now, very poignant and relevant to me.

I’m sitting here on a campsite spending a holiday on my own for the first time ever (excluding au pair work where I was actually living with a family). Although I have been mostly enjoying it, I knew that, given the nature of a solitary pursuit, I was bound to come across my nemesis: boredom. When I am back home, I avoid it at all costs, packing my daily routine with household chores, educational classes, volunteering, evening groups and visiting friends and family. As this feeling strikes now, I have none of those distractions to protect me. What can I learn from boredom as I try to deal with it in a constructive way?

The key word here is “constructively.” We must learn to build rather than destroy when the feeling strikes. For example, I have been debating whether to self-medicate my slump with more food. However, would this be useful? I don’t think so. Therefore, I have been racking my brains with what to do instead. Why don’t I go out and fill a need?

The first positive, helpful step I am taking is to go for a short walk and take some photographs. This is inspired by my mum’s desire, earlier today, to see pictures of my holiday. It is also necessary because it is a good reminder of my time here for myself. That’s the first distraction completed! Sometimes it’s the most simple steps forward which alleviate boredom.

Next, I will ask myself on my walk: how can I be creative and constructive using just what I have got in front of me? Camping is fun, but there aren’t as many facilities compared to being at home! However, there is no need to dread my return to the campsite and be faced with an abyss. This is because I have struck inspiration. Since, when I experience an emotion, I tend to ponder upon it, why not write an essay on boredom? All I need to do this is time, a pen and paper. What’s more, this writing won’t go to waste because I can use it for my next Back on Track blog entry!

From personal experience, I know that I get bored very quickly . What I am learning as I progress on this sole adventure is that I still have inner tools to help me navigate undesirable feelings. Yes, I might be busy with wakeboarding, surfing, bible study groups, visiting markets, and swimming on the beach during the day. However, the evening could be a low point for me if I let it. Instead, by getting my mind on a positive track, I can entertain myself for longer, using this as a defence against boredom and loneliness.

Remember, we don’t need anything other than our own thoughts to come up with interesting and valuable ideas! I am glad, despite my nervousness, that I embarked on this holiday alone. This is because it has helped to teach me that the mind is a magical thing. It can sustain us when we most need it!

Maysie Stott-Morrison