In our retreat yesterday the subject of my social media hiatus came up and we discussed how it all made us feel.
There were many different reasons people used or chose not to use social media in the room but one thing we all agreed on is, be it through social media, or phone apps, we have started to loose the ability to become bored.
i read a while ago a chapter in the book “women who rose rooted” and in it she spoke about how when waiting for a friend in a pub garden we used to allow our minds to day dream, listen to the birds, look up at the sky, tune into other peoples conversations, and generally allow our minds to slow. But now, most people tend to grab their phone and start to scroll, keeping the mind busy, keeping it focused and “on”.
The BBC did a 4 part radio series on the actions of being busy, the fact that it had become so much of a statement now to be busy and how it was really affecting us. One thing that jumped out was, that when we scroll our social media feed, our brain doesn’t recognise that as any different to reading emails, or replying to work. This means we’re using the same cognitive energy for our “down time” as we do in our “work time“, leaving us feeling like we haven’t had a rest or a chance to stop.
But when we were young, this scrolling wasn’t an option, we’d have to wait in a que and actually talk to people, or dare I say it, get a bit bored!
When there were only a few tv channels if there was nothing to watch, we’d have to turn the tv off and get creative, rather than flicking through the insane amount of channels we have now desperately trying not to be bored.
The amount of information we are exposed to now is on one hand amazing, yet it is also far more than our minds are built to deal with.
A person in america in the 1920’s would be exposed to the same amount of information in their lifetime that we are exposed to in one day of ours. In 100 years the information explosion has grown so much our filters and ability to deal with it all have become overwhelmed.
And instead of putting that information down, allowing our minds to slow and wander and dream, we continue to feed ourselves with it, minute after minute, hour after hour.
I believe boredom allows us to become creative, it’s proven that children with fewer toys are more imaginative and creative and play happily for longer than children who have access to whatever they like. When we allow ourselves space to be bored, then we find our imagination, and our fun.
But in that boredom there’s also the chance for the brain to unravel and the surface chit chatter to slowly ebb away, literally unwinding, this then allows us to really feel what’s going on and really slow.
This I understand can be scary, stillness, quiet, boredom is a challenge, it may mean that we ended up feeling feelings that aren’t very nice. But the thing with these feelings is, we can’t run away from them forever, and if we allow ourselves to feel them in a slow softer way, they are less likely to jump up and bite us when we’re least expecting.
But it’s not only that, if we never let our minds wander through the day, when it’s time for bed, when the lights are switched off, and suddenly there’s nothing to focus on, our minds suddenly switch back on. The unwinding and unraveling they need to do starts to kick in just as you want to drift off to sleep, a suddenly theres no way of getting the rest you so desperately need.
Allowing yourself moments in the day to day dream, to be bored, to not focus on anything. Can ultimately help with so much in our lives, and in those moments we may find that magic bean we’ve been searching for, the answer to that question or the calm we’ve been so desperately needing.
Ideas on how to bring these moments into your day:
• drive with no sound, turn the radio off, let the quiet take you on a journey
• when in a que, waiting for someone or something, resist reaching for your phone and let yourself daydream
• have some quiet time in the evening, no technology on, maybe whilst your cooking or if you can bare it, just sit for a few minutes in the peace of your home.
• feeding mums, resist the urge to scroll for a couple of feeds a day, do some breathwork or again, let your mind wander
• when you walk, either to work, or the dog, try to avoid getting your phone out, let yourself sink into the rhythm of your foot steps and the sounds around you
• meditate, if you can sit for 10 minutes a day and be still and in silence give it a go
• look for moments in your day where you’d normally reach for your phone, and see if you can avoid this. Give it a go for a day or a week and see how it changes how you feel.
I’d live to know your thoughts and stories on boredom too so please get in touch