“They” say we’re too connected these days. Too scheduled. Too busy. Downtime doesn’t exist. It’s faux pas to say you did nothing on the weekend.
Boredom Isn’t Glamorous
I took a 6 day weekend over the Easter long weekend. I had all the ideas about all the things I could have done. Achieved. Ticked off something from my ever growing to do list.
But I didn’t. I didn’t log into websites. I didn’t listen to podcasts. I didn’t read the stack of books on my bedside table. I didn’t do anything.
To be clear, this wasn’t about no screen time for me. It was about trying to be ok with not achieving anything. About actual downtime.
It was crappy.
Don’t get me wrong, I think it was valuable. But crappy and valuable are not mutually exclusive. I spent a few days trying to resist doing anything. It was too little to get a benefit from downtime.
I wake up early and leave the house early during the week. I have a long commute, and parking at Brisbane train stations suck unless you’re there early, so that’s my weekday reality. But that also means I don’t sleep in on weekends. And this began to be my downfall.
I pushed my boundaries too far. I tried to stay home all day long, and ended up frustrated and bored. And not the kind of bored where you’ve been distracted and then get a spurt of inspiration. The kind of bored where you can feel each second ticking past, and it’s taking too long.
It made me restless, cranky and unpleasant.
Towards the end of the long weekend, I realised that overall though, I’ve made progress in recent years. I can wake up, take my time cooking, eating, and generally having a slow start to the day. But if I don’t choose something to do (anything!), then as it gets close to lunchtime, I get cranky and restless.
That I can spend 4-5 hours at home (and enjoying my home) might not sound like much, but that’s actually massive progress for me. In years past I’d be restless and cranky within an hour of waking up from having “nothing to do”.
In the later few days of my 6 day weekend, I decided to be preemptive about it all and make sure I left the house around 10 or 11am. While that made it less about doing nothing, it helped my mood a great deal. I wasn’t ticking anything off, but I wasn’t cornering myself into a box of unhappy.
I realise that many people might not have the privileged of doing nothing for 6 days. I’m still getting used to the fact I have things like paid public holidays and paid annual leave. It still seems weird to me, even over two years into having a permanent job.
However, it is an interesting exercise to try and do nothing. For me, it wasn’t a pretty, Pinterest-worthy image of self care. There was no glamour at all to this. It was a cranky box of frustration which made me feel ever-trapped as each day went on.
I would encourage you to try boredom. But I would also encourage you to realise it may not be glamorous. Not all steps in our life, not all ideas, suggestions and tips for self development are actually without pain.
How do you manage boredom?