Seven weeks into another national lockdown and many are complaining of low mood, fatigue, anxiety, jitteriness and no sense of purpose or direction.
These symptoms may sound familiar and we may be quick to think these are signs of depression. However, this could just mean that you are experiencing boredom.
Boredom is a genuine psychological and emotional state. It is a phrase often associated with children and teenagers but in this current climate, I hear this from adults as well.
If this emotion is constant, then yes, this could lead to depressive symptoms. So, we must address it with the respect it deserves.
Although everyone experiences boredom differently, they are some consistent reasons why boredom may rise:
The feeling of no control, or restriction to your daily activities
The perception of feeling unstimulated or unchallenged
Poor time management
Fatigue, poor sleep or relaxation routine
So, what can you do if you feel bored with your current situation?
You may think the answer is to get doing, however, being active or busy is not always a solution, especially if you are feeling physically tired when your brain appears to be swirling with non-specific stuff.
Before you reach for the TV remote or escape down a rabbit hole of social media, you need to build a platform of wellbeing and self-care.
Boost your immune system
Improving how you feel starts with what we put in our body for fuel. Boredom increases unhealthy eating habits, which can lead to a sluggish and fatigued immune system. Excessive consumption of caffeinated, surgery food and drink can manifest into feelings of jitteriness, agitation and anxiety.
So, to help your body and mind stay energised or stimulated, consider nutritional boosters. There are some food and drink that will aid and enhance our mood and energy. It is recommended that you include them in your diet as a preventive measure to maintain a healthy nutritional diet.
Listed below are some of these ‘superfoods’:
Berries are packed full of antioxidants and play a key role in improving mood and has been shown to play a key role in combatting depressive symptoms and other forms of mood disorders. Generally, fruits and vegetables are linked to lower rates of depression.
Fatty fish such as wild salmon and albacore tuna are rich in two types of omega-3s (DHA) and (EPA). Clinical trials have shown that consuming omega-3’s in the form of fish oil can help to lower depressive symptoms.
Ginseng (Panax ginseng) contains compounds that may help boost alertness and concentration, according to research studies. While ginseng is relatively safe, it can worsen insomnia due to its stimulating effects.
Peppermint helps with digestion and can also help improve mental clarity and performance.
Shilajit is a root-based substance and, as a supplement, it is used to boost energy and restore vitality as it is rich in nutrients and materials.
St. John’s Wort with its natural anti-depressant properties is considered an excellent source for improving moods, aiding better sleep, reducing anxiety and other nervous disorders, and promoting relaxation.
*Included in this feature are some recipe ideas to try at home.
Relax your body
We often think we will get bored if we stop and do nothing. Well, in fact, it can have the opposite effect. Boredom, as already mentioned, is a symptom of feeling jittery, stuck and unable to concentrate, but it can also help to restore calm and focus.
A fantastic exercise that I use with clients is the ‘Body Scan’.
The Body Scan meditation can be used for a series of mental health states such as anxiety, depression, or poor concentration. It enables you to be in the here and now, draw attention to tension areas in the body and relax your body and mind.
The practice of body scanning involves paying attention to parts of the body and bodily sensations in a gradual and sequential process from your head to your feet.
To learn how to do this please view the accompanying video on Body Scans.
Empty your mind
If we find we are ruminating, engaging in negative inner dialogue or self-sabotage, it is useful to empty your mind; there are several ways you can do this.
Distract yourself by focusing on one thing. Research has shown by actively replacing one thought with another singular one can be highly effective. In one piece of research, it was argued that chronic pain suffers can develop cognitive skills to reduce their dependency on medications by using distraction techniques such as visualisation or meditation.
Visualisation and mediation are accessible and readily available via YouTube or various apps.
One of my favourite meditation techniques is the ‘ray of light’, which aids relaxation, channels energy, enhances your mood, through drawing awareness to the power you must earth and the universe. This exercise helps to improve your mood and also empty your mind.
To learn how to do this please view the accompanying video on Ray of light.
Change your posture and move
Without a doubt, the benefits of physical activity are well noted in research. It improves energy and mood. Physical activity stimulates our brain chemicals and encourages the release of endorphins and makes us happier, more relaxed, and less anxious.
However, there is also a good case for changing your posture to improve mood and energy levels.
Good posture is believed to contribute to better wellbeing and emotional health.
Neuroscientific research has shown a proven link between changing your mood by simply changing your body posture.
When our mood is low, or we are feeling emotionally distressed, we are likely to be hunched and tensed. So, make a conscious effort to notice how you are physically feeling and what your posture is.
When we practice good posture, it benefits both our body and our mind.
Quick posture check-in
Sit with feet flat on the floor or legs crossed while sitting on the ground.
Sit upright, back relaxed– imagine your head, neck and spine gently held up by a thread.
Roll and allow your shoulders to drop away from your neck, and rest your arms with your palms open, place on your lap, or resting on your legs.
Here are some useful practices to consider
Posture meditation (i.e. Body Scan)
Core Fitness Programs
Better sleep routine and hygiene
The quality and amount of sleep influence the way we feel and behave, so we must put in place a good sleep routine and hygiene.
Generally, poor sleep increases negative emotions, and too much sleep can cause fatigue, grogginess and irritability.
When putting in place a good sleep routine consider the following:
Regular and consistent sleep schedule – try to stick to the same bedtime and wakeup time.
Aim for 7-8 hours’ sleep per night for an adult.
Reduce and avoid blue light exposure (e.g. mobile phones and computers) and TV screens at least 2 hours before bed.
Avoid daytime naps, as this will interrupt and confuse your internal sleep and body clock.
Set up an optimum bedroom environment, ensuring the temperature, noise, external lights, and furniture arrangement are good for inducing sleep conditions.
Avoid drinking caffeinated or alcoholic products late in the evening.
Relax your mind and body with numerous tools such as reading, meditating, or taking a bath or shower.
A good night sleep will improve our concentration and ability to generate ideas and energy which will reduce the propensity to be bored and if you feel a tinge of boredom you are more likely to shake it off if you have had a good night sleep.
To learn more about better sleep hygiene please view my previous blog on Sleep - The complexity and myths of sleep.
The suggestions in this feature should be considered as a holistic wellness approach to combat boredom. They may not be effective unless in combination. If you do, you are more likely to feel good and manage momentary emotional distress.
If you find you are struggling with feelings of boredom and low mood and feel you are unable to deal with this on your own, seek supervision and assistance from a professional health care provider such as a doctor, or counsellor. If you would like assistance from me, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
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Kemi Fadero is a Wellbeing Consultant, Counsellor and Coach based in Cambridge, UK. Kemi works with individuals seeking to achieve balance in their lives. Her interest in wellbeing and coaching came after taking steps herself to improve her wellbeing and reduce the strain of juggling life as a corporate executive and running a household filled with three lively children. She noticed the increased demands of modern life on herself, her family, colleagues and friends. She decided to seek balance for herself and in the process found a love for helping others through Counselling, and her passion for holistic wellbeing. From her Cambridge, UK studio, she offers virtual and in-person coaching and counselling services, helping individuals seeking to overcome emotional distress and wellbeing challenges.