Although I count down the months and days until summer throughout the school year, when it is finally summer break, I find myself facing the same problem every single year. I'm bored. I'm bored in the sense that nothing seems fun or interesting. I lack the motivation to work on academics or other meaningful activities. Simultaneously, relaxing and disassociating myself from work and to-do lists feels like a waste of time. If I'm being completely honest, relaxing is hard for me. Taking time to enjoy myself becomes one of the most difficult goals. This summer, the only task on my to-do list is to understand the importance of truly relaxing. But, breaking this habit is no easy task.
Cutting Back On Planning
I have always been a planner, constantly thinking ahead and marking my calendar to remind myself of important, upcoming dates. If I wasn't always working on something or thinking about something, I was "wasting my time." This mentality caused me to associate always being busy with happiness and success. Even when the school year finished, this mentality stuck with me. I forced myself to fill my days meant for relaxing with more tasks and work. Now, looking back, I understand the major problems that resulted in this seemingly innocuous tendency that is often labeled as "hard-working" or "passionate."
Planning, although important, is not always necessary. Summer is the time to break away from the monotonous routines that the school year imposes on students. Planning less will allow you to be in the present and take it one day at a time.
Pick Something New To Do Everyday
Boredom often results from redundancy and the repetitiveness of days. If every day feels the same, it may be time to switch it up. This, however, can be done with the smallest change. If you don't consider yourself the best baker or cook, set aside some time out of your day to try a new recipe. Or, if you notice that you don't spend much time outside, take some time to sit in the sun, swim, or take a walk with a friend.
Doing one new activity a day will interrupt your predictable, tiresome routine. That is the key to turning your so-called boredom into fun and enjoyment.
The Importance Of Boredom
Despite being hard to believe, boredom is very beneficial and important for your brain's health. According to Jill Bolte Taylor, a brain scientist and author of My Stroke Of Insight, “Every ability you have, you have brain cells that are communicating. When you’re walking, you have brain cells communicating with the muscles to move. The cells in your brain are constantly working. They eat and they create waste, so sleep is the optimal time for the waste to be cleared out between the cells so they can actually function."
She continued, "I compare it to when the garbage collectors go on strike. We know how congested the streets become. That’s exactly the same thing going on with the brain cells. If you wake up to an alarm before your system is ready to wake up, you have cut part of a cycle of sleep off that your brain wanted. Sleep is about rejuvenating the brain.”
If you find yourself more bored than usual this summer, embrace it.
Contrary to popular belief, boredom is not always something bad or something you have to change. Boredom may be exactly what you need this summer to relax and enjoy your free time. Having nothing on your to-do list is sometimes beneficial. Take time to sit outside and simply notice and appreciate your surroundings. Take time to rest while listening to your favorite playlist. Even if you feel that you are not being productive, remind yourself that productivity is not a requirement to have a good day.
Replace "Boredom" With "Relaxing"
It is crucial to disregard the negative connotation that the word "boredom" carries. But, this is easier said than done. By taking it one step at a time, you will gradually be able to see feeling bored as important to your mental health and overall well-being. You can start by replacing the word "boredom" with "relaxing." "Relaxing" gives the time you are taking to unwind a positive association.
The next time you feel bored, understand that boredom is not the enemy. Take the time to unwind and embrace moments of stillness this summer.