Boredom: Is it BAD?

By: Christine Marshall Hersom
Have you ever had a day where you were just so bored you couldn’t function?  Nothing seemed interesting, there was nothing to do, and even your daydreams were “BAD!”  I think everybody has had these days.  We just left one of the worst years of our lives.  We were quarantined to our homes.  Everything was closed.  It was “BAD!”
I didn’t think stay-at-home orders would last long term nor think I would struggle.  And certainly never thought I would become bored.  I love being in my home after all I have an in-home daycare.  I am blessed to have a wonderful relationship with my husband, children and there are always little ones everywhere.
When I was balancing a busy personal and professional life, I would fantasize about the day I could control my day. Oh the crafts I would complete, the places I could go see, and more.
The lockdown was different. The big problem – I couldn’t go anywhere.  I couldn’t visit people.  I faced exactly what I had dreamt about.  I had all the time in the world.  Just what I prayed for.  So now what was I going to do with all this extra time?  At first it was exciting.  I slept in, took naps, and binge watched Netflix like it was my job.  I take everything pretty seriously when it comes to rules – so I became a teacher’s pet. The here is what you do to make the best of the pandemic A+ student.  It would be  creative time.  It was so restful and fun…for about 30 days.  I soon found myself staring at the wall and wondering how I would ever survive this time.  Part of the problem is we had no idea when the end was.  Would we have a month to be bored or a year?  Dramatic, I know, but I felt like I was going to die in this trap.
I had tons of time on my hands.  I would wake up in the morning, go sit on the couch in silence and look around wondering what was I supposed to do next?  My creative mind lost its creativity. I had no interest in home projects, DIY, crafting or anything.
About two weeks in, I recognized that I couldn’t spend the next six months staring at the walls. According to a study published in the journal, Academy of Management Discoveries, boredom can actually spark our creativity and productivity. Well, I was nailing that. I WAS BORED. And it was “BAD!”  How could I be creative when there was no spark at all. This study suggests that we all need a little boredom in our lives.  Boredom can allow us to get back on track, be more productive and creative.  I decided to take this information to heart and see if I could test this theory.  Let me tell you, it was hard at first.  At this point, I even questioned if I was depressed.  I knew many others were struggling, experiencing boredom and feeling depressed as well.  I suspected I wasn’t that abnormal.
I had to rewire my thought process and get up off the damn couch.  Some days, I slithered off that thing.  I decided I would rather be  uninspired standing up than being uninspired laying around like a lump on a log.  I started with a to do list.  Creating a list made me feel engaged in something-anything.  I signed up for online classes in computer coding, French, drawing, and creative writing.  I know – a bit over the top.  I completed them all, yet I still felt like I couldn’t get out of my own way.  And, I wasn’t retaining anything.  Boredom was still winning.  It was “BAD.”
I struggled along for a few more months and then found Coach Peggy.  I started watching her videos, reading her blogs, and communicating with her.  Some things just show up when they are supposed to.  She introduced me to hula hooping.  I know, what a weird way to tackle boredom.  I think what made it click was I was having fun while learning something new.  She taught a hooping class via Zoom during Covid.  I loved the accountability.  We all had forgotten how difficult it was to keep that big circle from falling down.  However, I kept practicing.  I bet the first 30 minutes of class I dropped the hoop 100 times.  While I didn’t get much exercise from the spinning, I certainly did from the bending over and picking it up.  I was embarrassed at first, but it was fun.  After the class was over, I continued working on hula hooping for another hour.  I finally stopped from exhaustion. (Teacher’s Pet thing again).
It was the hula hooping that helped me finally realize in all of this “trying” new things maybe it was movement I needed.  Maybe it was bringing back some fun.  I began exercising more.  I started walking, doing videos, functional exercises everyday like arm circles, planks and squats.  I felt great after exercising.  I hadn’t exercised consistently in such a long time.  My mind and body were invigorated again.  It spun my boring view of life in a whole new way.  I became excited to find as many new ways to exercise as possible.  Like salsa dancing.  Yeah, me!
So… maybe sometimes boredom is what we need.  There are times we need to rest both physically and mentally.  Trying something brand new might mean trying 10 new things before one snaps you out of a “BAD” situation.  The movement cleared my brain, and I decided to revisit the classes I had finished on line – redo them again.  I learned even more the second time around, and actually retained it.  Oh, and had fun.
I now believe that boredom can be good for us sometimes. It is individualized on how long you should let that boredom last.  Is it rejuvenating you or bringing you down further into a less productive realm or even causing a true depression?  Don’t let boredom run or ruin your life.
The Pandemic was one of the worst things I have experienced in my life.  You, too, I am sure.  I try to find the good in it.  What did I learn?  I learned that boredom isn’t “BAD.”  I have found ways to use my time creatively when things I cannot control spin me.  I am more active now.  I look at the world in an entirely new light.
And as a side note, I am back on track with my to do list.  I completed some home projects, a Reiki Master class that I had started before the Pandemic (I had thrown the program in the closet and walked away when my boredom first hit).  It took months of working on myself, but I am happy to say that I finished the program and am now a Reiki Master.  I learned how to make hula hooping an exercise option…not a frustration.
What do you do with your boredom?  How do you come out of your “BAD” times?  Do you believe boredom helps your creative energies flow?
For me, it took a while to believe the boredom-can-spark-creativity concept.  Now when I stare at walls or watch Netflix for hours, I realize it is not controlling my life because I know I have learned strategies to help me come out of the haze.
Boredom is not “BAD.”
Christine Marshall Hersom
                                                                     All Things Wellness, LLC
                                                                  christinehersom@gmail.com