10 Things to Do When You’re Bored

More screen time is only going to break your brain. Try this stuff instead.

Michael Easter

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Photo by Priscilla Du Preez on Unsplash

The average American today spends nearly 12 hours a day on digital media. That figure includes all the time we spend focused on our phones, tvs, computers, tablets, and the audible information we beam into our ears.

Let’s face it, most of our digital time is wasted. We typically don’t use it reading literary classics, wiring money to widows and orphans, or learning a new language. We’re googling the answer to any half-baked question that leaks out of our gray matter, lurking on Instagram, reading lukewarm takes decrying whatever the social media mobs have deemed the affront of the day, etc.

We don’t know how to deal with boredom because we have more easy escapes from it. This is linked to burnout, stress, and decreased creativity. So instead of more screen time, kill your boredom in a way won’t end up driving you more crazy. Try these 10 methods.

1. Read this story about why you should embrace boredom.

2. Then actually embrace boredom. Do nothing. Go inward and let your mind wander. Focusing inwardly is a mental rest state that restores and rebuilds the resources needed to work better and more efficiently. Mental downtime is critical to get shit done, tap into creativity, process complicated information, and more.

3. Take a walk and leave your cell phone at home. The benefit: a mental reboot and more creativity, according to researchers at the University of Utah.

4. Spend 20 minutes outside. Research from the University of Michigan found that it’s the dose of nature that most efficiently dropped peoples’ stress hormones.

5. Learn or do something new. Anything. In newness, we’re forced into presence and focus. This is because we can’t anticipate what to expect and how to respond, breaking the trance that leads to life in fast-forward. It can even slow down our sense of time, which explains why time seemed slower when we were kids. Everything was new then and we were constantly learning.

6. Make my friend Sol’s chocolate chip cookie recipe. He says he’s tried a million recipes and perfected this one into the best damn cookie you’ll ever eat…

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Michael Easter

Author of The Comfort Crisis // Professor // Writing about physical + mental health, psychology, and living better 1x week // eastermichael.com