3 Ways to “Restore” Time When You Are Bored

Killing time is fine. Now, how about restoring it?

Photo by Melissa Askew on Unsplash

The idea of killing time seems violent to me. I have come to associate binging Netflix, smothering my feelings with food and alcohol, and overworking with killing time.

While binge-watching Netflix shows may feel restorative on the surface, the “yucky” feeling we get after tells another story.

The idea of restoring time is about using your time to nourish yourself mentally and spiritually. It is quite different from being productive, or distracting yourself in other ways. I personally love the idea of restoring time: imagine wresting your precious time away from mind-numbing activities that leave you feeling drained, to do things that replenish you instead. You deserve that!

Dr. Laurie Santos in her podcast, the Happiness Lab, talks about the psychological benefits of time affluence and its role in increasing happiness. Time affluence is the feeling that one has enough time in a day for oneself to live as one wishes. Nourishing, restorative activities make you feel time affluent. They make you more aware of the world and your being, as opposed to consuming media, which just takes you away from your reality. Recognizing your reality, and staring it in the face, according to Buddhist leaders like Thich Nhat Hahn, is the first step to finding peace.

Here are some ways to restore time instead of killing it. For me, life itself can be found in these moments – when I’m hyper aware of the incredible blessing of simply being alive.

Go for a walk by yourself

Can’t recommend this highly enough. Rebecca Solnit, in her wonderful Wanderlust: A History of Walking, says

“Walking itself is the intentional act closest to the unwilled rhythms of the body, to breathing and the beating of the heart. It strikes a delicate balance between working and idling, being and doing. It is a bodily labor that produces nothing but thoughts, experiences, arrivals.”

On my long walks, I feel more connected to nature, myself, and to other people. I’m free to observe, smell, listen and think. I am more in touch with my reality, and feel comfortable with it.

Practice sitting

You don’t need to meditate. You can simply sit and look out the window.

The Buddhist monk Thich Nhat Hahn says this about sitting:

“Many of us have lost our capacity of resting. We know that our body has the power of healing itself. But we just don’t give it a chance to heal. We work our body too hard.”

Even if you find closing your eyes and meditating hard, everyone can sit still and simply rest for twenty minutes every day. I try to practice sitting every day. It was hard to do at first, but soon I realized that the reason I found it boring was because I was finally at peace, and I was not used to peace. I was used to over stimulation, which is not restful or nourishing at all.

Connect with a close friend

We all crave deep connections and yet, we are finding it increasingly harder to truly connect with people.

As we grow older, it is natural to be more hesitant about reaching out to people. We fear rejection. But, research shows that loneliness kills more people in the U.S. than smoking does!

You already know this, but here’s a reminder to find the time and the space to connect truly and deeply with a friend.

Ask questions, share your life, talk about one thing you are happy about, one thing that’s bothering you, and one thing you are afraid of. Listen deeply to your friend.

Deep conversations spark ideas and broaden your perspectives on life. More importantly, it makes you feel less alone. That’s a nourishing way to use your time, isn’t it?

Let’s stop trying to kill time. Life is too short, as Seneca rightly said:

It is not that we have so little time but that we lose so much. … The life we receive is not short but we make it so; we are not ill provided but use what we have wastefully.

What are some ways in which you restore time? Leave a comment below!

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Ashwini Sriram

Ashwini Sriram

I'm a product manager from Chennai living in San Francisco. I enjoy writing about product management, books, food, and people.