Why You Need To Make Friends With Boredom Even When You Do Not Want To
How to use boredom to celebrate achievements, tap into creativity and be overall happier
We are so obsessed with the idea that we need more structure, time and boundaries in order to make more space for creativity.
What we truly need, is to fall back in love with the idea of boredom.
Creativity and genius spark when your calendar looks clear. Whether it means blocking out a whole morning, switching your phone off or simply going out in the sunshine.
Whatever happens in that time, is pure magic. Make sure you allow yourself the time to write for the sake of writing, sing for the sake of singing, moving, dancing, baking or making love.
“Our lives can feel planned to the minute, and that truly stops us from tapping into the magic of spontaneous creation.”
By doing more for ourselves and stop giving purpose and function to every action, we can truly tap into our creativity and revive our muse.
I love my whys, and I believe there is a place for them. Your life, your job, your projects. However, there is nothing more liberating than stepping outside of purpose and just play for the sake of playing.
The scientific reason we cannot relax
Have you tried to relax lately? I must tell you, relaxing is damn stressful these days. This is not just me by the way, it’s actually a condition.
By one estimate, somewhere between 17% and 53% of adults have experienced relaxation-induced anxiety at some point. It’s not that they can’t relax at all, it’s that doing so quickly brings on feelings of anxiety.
For some people with RIA (shortened), the very physical sensations you might associate with being calm — letting your shoulders drop, deep breathing — are triggers.
We were born experiencing boredom and stillness, yet we are ‘re-learning’ how to, well, do nothing: “There is one thing I have learnt over the past 3 years, and this is to not be afraid of doing nothing!” Bridgette Macilwaine from the Hyper Health Nut confesses.
“I have learnt and understood (through many difficult situations) that those moments of doing nothing actually improve my focus, mental stability and work output in the end. For every person ‘doing nothing’ will mean something different, I still class doing nothing as an activity to which I plan into my day, to make sure I make the most of these moments to relax and recharge”
In a very funny, uncomfortably relatable Vice story about wigging out while visiting a spa at Iceland’s Blue Lagoon, writer Davis Harper shares:
“Present-moment awareness without the intention to relax has actually been shown to increase relaxation,” she said “It’s this paradoxical thing where when you try to not relax, you might find yourself more relaxed than when you’re intentionally trying to relax.”
Many of us are so accustomed to a packed schedule that when we finally find a bit of free time… well, we don’t always know what to do with it.
With our “always-on” state of being and devotion to hustle culture, we tend to feel bad when we have a little time to dedicate to ourselves, and this guilt spans generations.
A story of going against the odds
Claudine Thornhill, a Naturopathic Nutritional Therapist shares her story of being able to switch off, even if that meant going against what her mind was telling her:
“It was the day after a very successful wellness half day retreat. I’d organised, promoted (the hell out of) and brought to fruition an idea that I’d had for a half day women’s holistic wellness retreat in the heart of London. We’d had amazing speakers, tasty vegan food, sponsored female branded goodie bags, glowing feedback forms and great pictures. I was thrilled with the result. It was a job well done. Despite this, the question that popped into my mind was, “right, what’s next?” I needed to leverage off of this win! People were watching and waiting. I need to launch something, promote something, strike while the post-event iron is hot!”
Her hustler mentality was telling her not to stop, but she listened to her compassionate self instead, taking the time to celebrate this win was the best way of leveraging her energy.
“Rather than moving on to the next thing, I instead sent emails thanking the women who had attended, the sponsors and contributors. I had a debrief with my collaborator and plotted out ideas for where I wanted to go next.” Thornill added “I watched a lot of Netflix, started a new Dorothy Koomson thriller, booked a massage and breathed past the anxiety of doing nothing, in the knowledge that I was doing something.”
What this is truly showing, is a very different aspect of our working environment.
The myth of work-life balance
Remember all the people who advised you to find better work-life balance? Well, they were dead wrong because — wait for it, work-life balance does not exist.
What you are implying is that work is not part of our life, which is definitely not the case, since most of us work up to 45 hours per week. Yet, we can still find balance in our life.
Imagine your life as a big pie chart, and work being a big chunk of that chart. What can you fill the rest of the pie with?
Rest. Play. Adventure. Movement. Stillness.
“I’d had an intense period dedicated to work with a few dots of fun, the next period would be devoted to self care, fun and critical work tasks, like existing nutritional therapy clients.” Recalls Thornhill “Because of this, whatever I decide my next move would be, it would be coming from a place of conscious thought, excitement and curiosity, rather than scrabbling desperation, which is never a great place to be.”
The real goal of achieving “balance” and being at peace with doing nothing is being mindful when it comes to our own experience. Rethink what relaxation means and tailor it to you, in order to truly achieve happiness every day.
Looking to work smarter, not harder? Download my work survival guide with 20 proven tricks to reclaim your time off.