There have been times in my life when I felt trapped. Sometimes in my monetary issues, sometimes in my family issues, and sometimes in my relationships... Most often than not, I didn't even try to find a solution. I continued living trapped.
I focused on my work. Not thinking about the things that made me feel trapped was my coping mechanism. I thought that way I could get rid of them and feel happier.
The problem wasn't only about personal issues. I would feel stuck in works where I had to be creative as a designer. I felt like a hamster running non-stop in its wheel but not getting anywhere.
But the solution was simple: I had to get bored.
“Boredom is a productive state so long as you don’t let it go sour on you.” — Anne Enright
Famous Irish author Anne Enright said this to The Guardian about their life during the pandemic, the time when we were all stuck in our homes. “Boredom is a productive state so long as you don’t let it go sour on you.”
Agatha Christie whose books I grew up reading said in an interview published in 1955, “There’s nothing like boredom to make you write".
Famous sculptor Anish Kapoor said: “I’ve learned over the years… that it’s precisely in those moments when I don’t know what to do, boredom drives one to try.” Even though boredom doesn't create a motivational effect on everyone, it compels them to think.
We get distracted all the time
Though we remembered what boredom felt like during the pandemic, there are still a lot of distractions in our lives. The adverts we see everywhere we look, the cars that drive toward us, our phones that constantly vibrate with notifications...
Whenever we take a break from work, get on an elevator or wait in the queue at the supermarket, we immediately cling to our phones to either scroll through social media platforms or text someone.
When you add all the responsibilities we have to keep track of on top of that, our brains are forced to work overtime.
Our brain needs a break too
Just like everything that works busy pace, our brain needs a break too. It's possible to face a drop in performance or even mental health problems otherwise.
“You have to let yourself get so bored that your mind has nothing better to do than tell itself a story “ — Neil Gaiman
Taking a break, watching the stars without doing anything, or getting lost in thought laying on your couch isn't being lazy. I'm not saying, make a habit out of it and spend your life without doing anything.
In fact, even those who can't stand not doing anything can do these to rest their brains:
Exercise: Even though you think it's just for staying physically healthy, it's actually one of the easiest ways for you to relax mentally as well. You can put the movements of your body into autopilot mode and make it so that your brain gets lost deep in thought. You can try yoga or meditation.
Do housework: If you think you don't have time for exercise, you can do housework. It's no different than doing exercise. You can both finish daily chores and create time to think without tiring your brain. My favorite household chore is washing the dishes.
Stay offline: Take a break from work or life. I mean really take a break. Turn off your phone, or even better, leave it in your home or office and take a walk. Humanity survived without a phone for thousands of years. You won't lose much by leaving it for an hour.
Time to get bored
When you start sparing time for yourself and get lost in thought, you will realize that you can focus more easily. Perhaps you will be able to find a solution to a personal problem you've been struggling with for a while or discover brand new methods that will make your job easier.
Only when I started sparing time to get bored that I found out that the problems I had been trying to run away from wouldn't go away if I didn't find a solution for them. Then, I found a solution for these problems when I got bored.
I realized that I could finish the designs I'd spent hours and days on by using the creative solutions I found when I gave my brain the opportunity to rest.
You don't have to live life fast all the time. Taking a short walk and closing our eyes for five minutes will help us feel happier.
No matter what you do, don't forget to spare some time to get bored.
Head of UX