Feeling Bored or Stuck? Try Something New!

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I have been running since college, though have only identified as “a runner” for the past 3-4 years. This past weekend I told my friend (who I run with occasionally and who has been running for many years) that I was at the point of having to drive somewhere else to go running- because every run near my house has become super boring. His response… “I was wondering when you would get there”. So apparently that is a thing? As I thought about it, this is exactly why I love running on vacation or whenever I go out of town. It’s a great way to explore a new area and to see different scenery, and it also makes exercising- especially on vacation, more fun.

But this isn’t really a running post. I know a lot of people don’t run or don’t really want to read about running, but I’m using it as an example. As a few more to illustrate the same concept: Do you drive to or from work the same exact way, every time? Do you eat at the same restaurants or order the same meal? The same drink? Do you always go to the same stores? Or, do you go on vacation to the same place year after year?  Do you tend to do most things the same exact way? I hear from clients all of the time that they feel stuck or bored with their lives, and they are looking for ways they might shake things up.

Now, some people love predictability or they know what they like, and they have no desire to change it up. That does work for some people. But, sometimes you just can’t bear doing what you have always done. And sometimes you get bored or stuck and just need to try something new!

I had given this a lot of thought even prior to the running talk this past weekend.  Though I have lived and worked in the same area for a long time, my family and I have made it a point recently to do some new things we hadn’t done before. Two weeks ago we went to an outdoor movie at a local spot, and we loved it! The kids mostly ran around and threw a football, while we adults sat and talked. It was a beautiful night. Though we had a good view of the movie (the first Harry Potter), it was the atmosphere and catching up with some friends that was the real attraction. And since summer can get expensive, it was also helpful that it was free! The same place offers weekly concerts, and we plan to check out some of these, too.

Back to my running example. I have lived near a really great state park (Marsh Creek State Park) for most of my life, but had never explored it much. I know people who kayak, boat, and swim there- who fish- and who ride mountain bikes, walk, and run on the trails. Somehow I just found out how to access the trails (they are mostly on the side of the park I hadn’t been to), so I decided I was going to check it out some morning, instead of doing one of my regular runs. Mountain biking (as in on real trails, not sidewalks or paved trails) and trail running (again, on actual trails) are two things I had wanted to get into at some point, and talking with some friends recently got me excited about it. So yesterday was the perfect day. Great weather, I didn’t have an appointments scheduled until later, and I was dropping one of my sons off at a camp right near where I wanted to go, so I did it. I wasn’t there for a long time, but it felt great to get out and do something different, and to see some scenery I wasn’t familiar with. It also made me want to go back with the family or even to take the dog one day.

As I was thinking about this idea of getting unstuck or trying new things, I wanted to be sure to share it. It’s very, very easy to get into a rut or stuck in a routine- and people do it for different reasons. For my family, we tend to be very scheduled with work, school, and the kids’ activities, so when we have free time, we’re not always motivated to do anything or we’re not always full of ideas. But we’re making a better effort lately to do new things, and I would already consider this summer the best in recent memory.

Though I’ve mentioned a few ideas already, here are 7 ways you might get unstuck or stop feeling bored:

1. Try a new restaurant (coffee shop, bar, bakery, etc). Whether it’s fast food, a casual meal, or something fancier, try somewhere new! There are many opening in our area, but whenever we go out of town, we make it a point to try somewhere local. And it’s a good thing we have Yelp to do some quick research! I think we’ve found some excellent places that way- and avoided a few bad ones too!

2. Try a new workout. Many of us tend to do the same things when we work out as well. Whether you’re into running, walking, hiking, or biking; weightlifting; or taking classes, find something new- either at your gym, online, or elsewhere in your area. There are tons of parks and trails out there, a lot of different gyms (most offering a free class or trial membership), and there are a million different training plans online you can try at a gym or at home. There are also many adult sports leagues out there- many of which are casual and not super competitive, so you don’t necessarily need any experience to join. meetup.com is a great site if you’re wanting to find activities or new people to do some of these things with.

3. Check out a new store. Whether you’re shopping for clothes, food, or something else, stop by a store or mall you don’t usually go to. You may like it or find something cool there.

4. Try a new vacation spot. Whether it’s for a day trip, a weekend, or a full vacation, do a little research and find somewhere new. I see articles all of the time for different neat towns, unspoiled islands, not super touristy cities or countries, and even the best beaches or winter resorts. There are also tons of lesser known amusement parks, state or national parks, and even cool road trips you can try.

5. Have a new hobby you want to try? Do it! Whether it’s trail running, biking, crochet, cooking, baking, or building furniture, what’s stopping you from trying? I place a high priority on hobbies and other past-times, and I think it’s one of the things that makes people happier and more interesting. In fact, I’ve heard about some cool hobbies from other people that I want to try. As a child, and still, I love riding anything with wheels. I grew up riding bikes and skateboards, and we were always building jumps and other things we could ride on, or looking for new spots where we could do it. I met a guy a while ago who was really into drift trikes. I had never heard of them, but since then, I have wanted to get one (I look on Craigslist every few weeks, but haven’t gotten one yet). I have also started surfing in the last five years and want to get into stand-up paddle boarding eventually, too. Certainly money and time make it difficult to pick up every hobby or to do them very frequently, but there are lots of things you can do that are inexpensive or less time-consuming.

6. Contact a friend, especially one you haven’t talked to or seen in a while. You may just enjoy talking and catching up, but if you can, make a plan to do it in person. Meet for a drink or a cup of coffee; for lunch or dinner; or to take a walk, run, or bike ride. And you may meet up with a friend to do any of the above!

7. Find an idea or two, and if you have a partner, ask him or her on a date. Romantic relationships in particular are prone to becoming stale- especially when you both work or you have kids. Life can be tough and it can be tiring, but with just a little bit of effort, you can keep things fresh. You might take turns planning dates or trips…even stay dates (making dinner together and/or watching a movie) can be fun. Especially if you haven’t done anything lately, your partner might really appreciate your effort.

In my own view and through my work as a psychologist, life is just too short to feel bored or stuck, and there are too many reasons not to keep doing the same old things. And there is no time like now, so if you have something you might like to do, what’s stopping  you?

Here are a few articles I found with some more ideas.

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/sura-flow/success-and-motivation_b_4117974.html

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/laura-probert-mpt/what-to-do-when-you-feel-stuck-uninspired-or-otherwise-sluggish_b_8535282.html

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/adrienne-partridge-/feeling-stuck-4-ways-to-g_b_9029786.html

 

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About Dr. Jesse Matthews

I'm a private practice psychologist in Chester Springs, PA. I provide counseling and coaching services to people ages 12 and up. Specialties include: depression; addiction/substance abuse; relationships; anxiety; ADHD and behavioral issues; and Autism/Asperger's.
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