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How to manage boredom

If you are feeling bored and can’t motivate yourself, use Good Thinking’s tips to get out of a rut and boost your mental wellbeing.

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Struggling to enjoy anything you do? Finding it hard to motivate yourself? Not sure where to direct your energy? During the winter months and when you might not be able to afford certain activities because of the rising cost of living, the days may feel monotonous. If you work or study at home, you might be getting sick of the same four walls. 

Feeling bored can be very hard to bear and even make you anxious if you can’t find anything you want to do. If you’re hearing “I’m bored” a lot in your household or if you’re troubled by boredom yourself, the Good Thinking team has created this short guide for you. It encourages you to stay connected, make small changes and reframe your thinking in order to protect your mental health.

As London’s digital mental wellbeing service, Good Thinking can also recommend NHS-approved apps that help to reduce anxiety, lower stress and boost low mood, such as Be Mindful, MyCognition PRO and My Possible Self. If you’d like to give your mental health a check-up, you can use the Good Thinking self-assessment tool. All our resources are free to Londoners who use the Good Thinking service.

1. Be open about your feelings

Boredom affects people in different ways so it’s useful to acknowledge your thoughts and feelings. You might feel restless or frustrated, tired or apathetic. You might also experience other emotions, such as sadness, loneliness and anger. If you have an existing mental health condition, you might be prone to boredom and find it hard dealing with it.

One of the most important things you can do is communicate openly with others as this can help to improve your mood. Let your family and friends know how you’re feeling and encourage them to open up to you too. Use WhatsApp, FaceTime and other ways to stay in touch.

If you’re concerned that it’s really a struggle to enjoy the things you used to and that your feelings could be developing into something more serious, like depression, there is help available. You could start by taking Good Thinking’s low mood quiz so we can recommend NHS-approved wellbeing apps, such as Move Mood, to boost your mood and motivation.

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2. Make the change

Start small – watch something on Netflix that is outside of your comfort zone or take a different route when you go for a walk, run or bike ride. Find a new game to play as a family, start reading a book or spring clean the house. You might find it useful to draw up a schedule and set yourself some short-term goals.

Try to balance on-screen activities with other things so you’re not always on your phone or other devices. If you have kids, focus on doing things in short bursts – like learning a TikTok dance together or building a fort – and discuss setting some goals and rewards for achieving them.

Studies show that boredom can be a trigger for binge eating, smoking, alcohol and drug abuse – try to find more healthy distractions instead. You might find our article about developing a new healthy habit and the free tomo app helpful.

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3. Reframe your thinking

Did you know that boredom can actually be good for you? When you’re bored, your mind is more likely to wander and help to spark creativity. So, find somewhere quiet to sit, turn off your phone and simply be bored. 

You might even like to use a mindfulness app or some soothing music to get you in the mood. The Be Mindful online course and MyCognitionPRO app are free to Good Thinking users who live, study or work in London. 

With a recent study showing that people who have high levels of self-compassion are less prone to boredom, our final piece of advice is to be kind to yourself.

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Good Thinking provides a range of resources to help Londoners improve their mental wellbeing.

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