I’m either obsessively reading, binge-listening to podcasts, addicted to a TV show, mindlessly scrolling through Facebook or Reddit or Instagram, or generally running my mouth off about any of the above. (And I’m very aware of the irony around me writing a blog post at 11pm on a Sunday, whilst I preach about unplugging).
I really want to be able to just sit in the middle of something, thoughtlessly. To be neither hot nor cold about a topic. To let boredom wash over me, like sitting in a lukewarm bath, and let myself relax. But truth be told, I can’t even have a bath without a book, podcast or an album to busy my mind.
Being bored is not only lost on me, but it’s lost on most of us: the social media generation. Everything we need to keep ourselves occupied, is at the tip of our fingers, all the time.
And I’m not necessarily saying that this is always a bad thing. We’ve all benefited from the internet and social media, it’s an unavoidable and necessary tool for 21st century life. But, it’s also important to understand what it means to be bored.
It’s important to learn how to entertain ourselves, to actively and guiltlessly daydream, and keep our imaginations active. Otherwise, we end up becoming patchworks of everyone else, with nothing to say for ourselves.
I’m certainly trying to make an effort these days to media detox a little more often. So, here are some thoughts on the benefits of boredom, which I hope will convince both me and you to switch off now and again:
1. Boredom = mindfulness
When we’re not constantly ingesting the ideas and stories of everyone else, we can sit back and consider our own lives.
This is probably one of the reasons we’re so obsessed with being occupied in the first place. Sometimes considering your own situation is a lot less enticing than judging the lives of others. As unenthusiastic as we may be to reflect on our own lives, it’s important to face the things in life that we’re unhappy with, in order to begin to change them.
2. Boredom = creativity
When you let your mind quiet, it allows you to look at your own ideas, and explore those things that have being sitting on the back shelves gathering dust. Exercising your mind of everything but your own thoughts once in a while is beneficial in so many ways for creativity. Take those ideas you probably didn’t remember were back there, dust them off, and see where they go.
3. Being bored = falling asleep quicker
When your mind is constantly bombarded with stimulus, whether that be from the TV show you’ve been binge-watching, the podcast you can’t stop listening to or the book you can’t put down, then when you finally get into bed (probably after ‘one last scroll’ through Facebook/Twitter/Instagram) you can’t switch off. Decreasing your intake of external stimulation means you’re able to relax quicker in the evening, and get the beauty sleep you deserve.
So do yourself a favour, and switch off more often. Let yourself be bored and see where it takes you.