Everyone gets bored at some point in their life, even if they have an active and busy lifestyle. In today’s environment, if you are at home with too much downtime (or just having to stay home), it can definitely lead to boredom. For others, unpleasant or uninteresting tasks bring about monotony and can leave you thinking, wondering about things to do when you’re bored.
When kids get bored, they usually need to burn some energy but what if you aren’t a kid and feel bored?
Researchers say that when we’re doing a low-stimulation activity, our boredom level usually depends on how we’re feeling. For example, if you’re watching a sunset you might find it completely absorbing if you’re in a good mood—or incredibly boring if you’re in an unpleasant one. Positive emotions tend to naturally stave off boredom, while negative ones might amplify a sense of nothingness.
Boredom and wondering about things to do when you’re bored
Boredom isn’t something people relish. In fact, it can range from annoying to downright maddening! If you’re the type of person who finds yourself bored more often than not, you’re probably wondering how to get rid of that “I’m bored” feeling. The key is to take your boredom and use it to spur yourself on to doing something more interesting.
If you’re sitting in your bedroom scrolling through endless social feeds, you’re probably not going to be any more entertained after looking at the fiftieth Instagram post of the day. But if you vow to put your phone down and find something else to stimulate your brain, you’re much more likely to overcome your boredom.
What is boredom?
Psychologists define boredom as “a prevalent emotion with potential negative consequences.” It’s usually a temporary state stemming from “a lack of external stimulation or challenge.” But it can persist, particularly if a person is suffering from depression or other mood-altering conditions.
Many people feel guilty when they’re bored, too—as if it is a personal failing. Or that they “should” be doing a task or chore, but are finding it hard to get motivated.
The difference between boredom and apathy is that the bored person wants to do something more interesting, but can’t. Apathy is the lack of desire to do anything. It’s also different than depression, where the person thinks the problem is with themselves rather than their immediate, temporary circumstances.
In some cases, people naturally find a way to stave off boredom, seeking new experiences or activities, social interactions and creative pursuits. Often, however, it results in negative outcomes, ranging from a lack of motivation and poor performance, to counterproductive behavior and withdrawal. Boredom can lead to unhealthy behaviors like eating too much or watching too much television.
Suffice to say, boredom can be an incredibly negative feeling—but it doesn’t have to be.
What to do when you’re bored at home
The first thing to do when you’re bored is to realize that this feeling will eventually pass. At some point, you’re bound to find stimulation in everyday activities, social interactions or creative pursuits. But first, you need to recognize the feeling and identify it.
Once you realize you’re bored, you can decide where it’s coming from. Are you doing repetitive tasks at work all day? Did you run out of chores to do at home and aren’t sure what to tackle next? Are you lonely and craving some face time with friends?
When you have a better idea of why you’re bored, it will be easier to address the root of the problem. It’s why we’ve put together this list of easy things to do when you’re bored ideas for the next time you’re bored and trying to spice up your life.
Here’s what to do when you’re bored at home:
- Embrace it. Your mind might not be exactly stimulated at this moment, but sometimes that’s a positive thing. If you’re performing a repetitive task and it’s safe to let your mind wander, see where your thoughts go. Don’t do this while driving or operating heavy machinery, watching small children or other situations where inattention can be deadly!
- Meditate. Like the above point, you can harness your lack of external stimulation by learning to or continuing to meditate. Meditation allows you to quiet your mind and lean into the lack of things to do. There are thousands of guided meditations and meditation music on YouTube. You can do one simply for the sake of meditating, or find one for specific purposes like self-love, confidence or getting to sleep. Light a candle, find a comfortable spot and get ready to go inside your mind.
- Do some yoga. Yoga is another semi-meditative activity that can provide physical stimulation. Again, YouTube is your best resource. Many practitioners upload free videos weekly and even daily. There’s even a practice for when you’re bored!
- Try a new look. Give yourself a home makeover by pulling out the things you’ve never been bold enough to wear or the makeup you’re too shy to try, and give yourself a makeover. Bonus: if you decide you really never will wear those faux leather leggings or the neon green eyeshadow, you can start weeding your wardrobe.
- Practice self-care. Do you love hot baths, face masks and home manicures? How about an uninterrupted hour to read that book you’ve been dying to start? Maybe you get a kick out of reading old diaries or looking at photos and seeing how things have improved over the years—these are all things you can do that will make you feel better and keep you entertained.
- Clean up. Cleaning might be the reason you are bored in the first place, so continuing the chore won’t be stimulating in that case. If you’re searching for things to do around your home, however, pick one corner of the room, set a timer and spend 20 minutes cleaning it up. Chances are you’ll want to keep going by the time the timer goes off—and you’ll have a tangible result to show for it.
- Rearrange your furniture. Maybe it’s not you that needs a new look, but your home instead? Try rearranging your furniture to shake things up and revive the look of your room or home.
- Make up a song and dance routine. If no one else is around, no one will know how silly you look! Learn a dance from a music video, make up a song about the lengths you’ll go to in order to cure boredom, or what you’d rather be doing. Bonus points if you can make yourself laugh.
- Watch a documentary. Boredom often comes at the end of the day. If you’re wondering what to do when bored at night, check out a documentary. It won’t numb your mind quite like sitcoms (which also have their time and place!) but instead a documentary can be both moving and inspiring, leading you to find new ways to beat boredom back!
Things to do when bored with friends
- Go to the park. Most of us live within walking, biking or driving distance to a park. Bring a book and some snacks if you’re both quiet types, or wait for the kids to go home and enjoy the playground equipment yourselves.
- Go to the gym. If you’re bored at the gym, find a workout partner. If your friends aren’t into the gym or the type of workout you love, try posting an ad on Craigslist, Nextdoor or Meetup to find your next gym buddy. If you are home and can’t leave, consider a home workout routine (links to YouTube workout videos).
- Plan a vacation. Where have you always wanted to go with a friend? Call up your favorite travel buddy and start tossing around ideas for your dream vacation (even if it is many months or even a year away). It will not only kill your boredom in the moment, but give you something to look forward to in the future.
- Have a photo shoot. Hate being in front of the camera but know that you need some photos for your profession, online dating profile, or social media? Take some new selfies. This is a great time to debut a new look (see number 4 in the previous section) or ask your friend what they think is your best feature.
- Share memories. Calling up a friend (or video chat) is a simple way to get the social interaction you’ve been craving. If you can’t think of an excuse to give them a call (although we’re sure they’d say you don’t need one), pick a favorite memory and tell them you were just thinking about that time you spent together—then catch up on what’s been going on in their lives.
- Go for a hike. Getting out in nature (when you can) is already a great way to kill boredom, but when you add friends it’s even better. You’ll get some Vitamin D, exercise and social interaction. It’s also a great excuse to practice your photography skills.
- Volunteer. Don’t underestimate the power of doing good deeds when it comes to killing boredom and refocusing your priorities. Whether it’s helping out a friend or rallying a group to go help out at a soup kitchen, you’ll feel better and enjoy some socializing as well. Planning future volunteer opportunities also helps when you can’t get out at the moment.
- Pretend you’re a tourist. Gather your friends and pretend that you’re a tourist in your own town (even virtually works well!). Are there landmarks you’ve never been to or famous restaurants you’ve always meant to try? Strap on your camera (or head into a virtual tour) and see your hometown through the eyes of a visitor.
Creative things to do when bored
- Pursue a hobby. What have you always wanted to try but were too afraid or busy to do before? Whether it’s writing, painting, embroidering, crafting, building or refinishing furniture, or something else entirely, this is the perfect opportunity to try something new, whether at home or by taking new classes. If you’re bad at it, practicing will help stave off future episodes of boredom.
- Get creative in the kitchen. Whether you love to cook or need to learn, everyone needs to eat. With thousands of recipe blogs and YouTube tutorials out there (links to YouTube cooking videos), you could learn everything from how to make soup to how to carve elaborate garnishes out of vegetables. Or you could try to create your own cocktails by riffing off existing recipes—it’s a great time to perfect your mixing skills. Just don’t drink to medicate your boredom!
- Refashion a piece of clothing or a household item. If you love to DIY, take the opportunity to create something new from what’s lying around your home. If you like to sew, why not make throw pillow covers from old band t-shirts? A can of spray paint can give new life to old furniture and decorative objects like mirrors.
- Garden. Gardening gives you the opportunity to go play in the dirt as well as nurture new life—the very definition of creativity. Add a new row to your vegetable garden or look up tips to enhance your harvest.
- Make a vision board. If you weren’t bored right now, what would you be doing? Grab some old magazines or other things you don’t mind cutting up, then paste them to a board (a bored board, if you will) to inspire you to do more. Whether it’s traveling, searching for the perfect home, moving abroad or finding new activity partners, you’ll create a visual reminder of what you want to bring into your life.
- Create a website. Maybe you’ve always wanted to learn to code, or have your own blog to showcase your writing, photography or recipes. There are dozens of free blog and website services that will allow you to express your creativity and practice your coding skills. It might even connect you to new friends.
- Start a diary. You’ll be amazed at how quickly your thoughts pour out onto a page when you just start writing. It might take you a few sentences to get past your writer’s block, but from there it’ll be much easier to get your ideas on paper. Write about how you feel (other than bored), what you did today, what you want to do tomorrow and anything else that comes to mind.
- Learn to paint. Bob Ross is more than just a great internet meme—he’s the embodiment of the idea that anyone can create art. Give a YouTube tutorial try and you might be impressed with what you create. Get some basic watercolor paints and some paper, and paint whatever comes to mind. Art is in the eye of the beholder! Plus, painting is probably more enjoyable than what you’re doing if you’re bored… which is nothing.
How to make changes in your life
The best cure for boredom is to make changes in your life so that you lessen the chances of experiencing this negative feeling. Whether it’s a monotonous job or field of study, or the lack of a social life that comes from major life changes such as moving to a new town, making adjustments will help you solve the main reason(s) you’re bored.
Sometimes the big changes, like finding a new job, are overwhelming. In that case, start small. Each day, pick one item to tackle. For example, you could update your resume one night and upload it to a job-hunting site the next. Meeting new friends might look like joining a meetup group one week and trying to talk to one person at the next event (in-person or virtually).
When you recognize the source of your boredom, you’re empowering yourself to make the necessary changes so it doesn’t keep happening—but if you’re just temporarily bored, come back to this list!
Words also have power! Reading through life quotes and sayings can provide a daily dose of inspiration and can help with boredom, as well as spark new creativity and motivation! Maybe even entrepreneurial quotes and tips to spark business creativity as well.
What are the best things you do when you’re bored? Share them with us in the comments below to inspire others to find the same positivity you’re working toward!