PULLMAN, Washington — Many people may be feeling bored more than usual after many weeks of coronavirus lockdown. It’s hard to find stimulating activities while day after day is spent cooped up at home. Researchers from Washington State University wanted to understand how the brain behaves when people are faced with boredom, and try to identify techniques people can use to cope with such monotony.
“Everybody experiences boredom,” says senior author Sammy Perone, Washington State University assistant professor in the Department of Human Development, in a university release. “But some people experience it a lot, which is unhealthy. So, we wanted to look at how to deal with it effectively.” These techniques can be especially handy during the lockdown when it’s easier to get bored.
People who feel bored more frequently than others exhibit brain patterns that account for their feelings of anxiety and depression. Those who cope well with boredom have more activity in the parts of their brain involved in creativity, demonstrating their ability to transform a boring situation into an interesting activity for themselves.
Perone and his team recruited 54 participants for their study which involved a survey to assess how they react to boredom, EEG measurements, and an extremely boring task. The scientists took a baseline EEG reading of the participants before they completed a dull “mouse-clicking” activity.
Participants were shown 8 pegs on a screen and had to click on the highlighted peg to make it turn a quarter of a turn. Then they had to click on the next highlighted peg and make it turn a quarter of a turn. They had to do this again and again… 320 times. In all, the task took about 10 minutes to complete.
“I’ve never done it, it’s really tedious,” Perone says. “But in researching previous experiments, this was rated as the most boring task tested. That’s what we needed.”
Researchers were surprised to find that the EEG patterns of people that are prone to boredom only showed differences when they were completing the yawn-inducing task.
“Previously, we thought people who react more negatively to boredom would have specific brain waves prior to being bored,” Perone says. “But in our baseline tests, we couldn’t differentiate the brain waves. It was only when they were in a state of boredom that the difference surfaced.”
The brain regions the researchers were investigating are the right frontal and left frontal areas. The right frontal area is more active when people are becoming anxious or feel negative emotions, and this is the area that is more active in the brains of bored participants when they are bored during the task.
Participants who coped well with boredom showed increased activity in their left frontal area when completing the task, the region heavily involved in imaginativeness and creativity. Many of these participants say that they were able to distract themselves during the task and make good use of the time they were sitting and clicking on pegs.
“We had one person in the experiment who reported mentally rehearsing Christmas songs for an upcoming concert. They did the peg turning exercise to the beat of the music in their head,” Perone says. “Doing things that keep you engaged rather than focusing on how bored you are is really helpful.”
The research findings suggest that those who are prone to feeling bored can learn coping mechanisms and ward off their feelings of anxiety.
Researchers plan to continue using the boring task to investigate specific coping techniques people can use to overcome their bored feelings. “Now we want to find out the best tools we can give people to cope positively with being bored. So, we’ll still do the peg activity, but we’ll give them something to think about while they’re doing it,” Perone says.
The goal of their research is to identify strategies that can help people with boredom when it comes up in their daily routines. Perone offers some concluding remarks: “It’s really important to have a connection between the lab and the real world. If we can help people cope with boredom better, that can have a real, positive mental health impact.”
The study is published in Psychophysiology.
Learn to “re-frame” the moment!
Posted May 20, 2010
Samuel Johnson wrote, “It is by studying little things that we attain the great art of having as little misery, and as much happiness as possible.” Little things make us happy, and little things can drag us down.
One “little thing” that can be a source of unhappiness is boredom. Sitting in traffic. Doing laundry. Waiting in a long line at the grocery store.
I’ve found that the more I focus on my boredom or irritation, the more I amplify that feeling. Here are six strategies I use to “re-frame” the moment; even if I can’t escape a situation, by re-framing my emotions about it, I can transform it.
— Put the word “meditation” after the activity that’s boring you. (This is my invention.) If you’re standing in a slow line at the drugstore, you’re doing “Waiting in line meditation.” If you’re cleaning up after a party, you’re doing “Cleaning meditation.” Just saying these words makes me feel very spiritual and high-minded and wise.
-– Dig in. Diane Arbus wrote, “The Chinese have a theory that you pass through boredom into fascination and I think it’s true.” If something is boring for two minutes, do it for four minutes. If it’s still boring, do it for eight minutes, then sixteen, and so on. Eventually you discover that it’s not boring at all. In my life, I’ve found that if part of my research isn’t interesting to me — for example, studying the Dardanelles campaign for Forty Ways to Look at Winston Churchill — I read a whole book about it, and then it becomes absorbing. The same principle holds when doing boring or irritating tasks, like washing dishes.
— Take the perspective of a journalist or scientist. Really study what’s around you. What are people wearing, what do the interiors of buildings look like, what noises do you hear? If you bring your analytical powers to bear, you can make almost anything interesting.
— Find an area of refuge. Have a mental escape route planned. Think about something delightful or uplifting (not your to-do list!). Or maybe review photos of your kids on your phone; studies show that looking at photos of loved ones provides a big mood boost.
— Take your time. I realize that when information bores me, like trying to understand a change-of-service notice from the cable company, I try to rush through it. This makes things worse, though, not better, because I feel not only bored, but also impatient and confused. Now, when I have to make sense of something that’s both boring and bewildering, I deliberately slow myself down and take all the time I need. My resolution to Put myself in jail is helpful.
— Most important: always have something good to read!
How about you? Have you found strategies to deal with boredom?
* I love the internet! My friend Delia moved to London, but through the wonders of technology, I can read her blog — Real Delia, “finding yourself in adulthood” — and keep up with her from a distance. She just moved, and I got a big kick out of her post about Living with mess: radical acceptance.
* It’s Word-of-Mouth Day, when I gently encourage (or, you might think, pester) you to spread the word about the Happiness Project. You might:
— Forward the link to someone you think would be interested
— Link to a post on Twitter (follow me @gretchenrubin)
— Sign up for my free monthly newsletter (about 43,000 people get it)
— Buy the book
— Join the 2010 Happiness Challenge to make 2010 a happier year
— Put a link to the blog in your Facebook status update
— Watch the one-minute book video
Thanks! I really appreciate any help. Word of mouth is the BEST.
I’m easily bored.
I love being stimulated. I love learning. I love self-development, self-knowledge, and self-growth.
I hate it when I’m sitting and have nothing to do.
In today’s world, we are all slaves to boredom. Boredom is what leads us to checking our email every 5 minutes. Boredom is what causes us to check our social media streams (even when we’re just waiting 30 seconds for the restroom). Boredom is what causes us to take drugs, drink, and seek sexual pleasure.
Personally, I fear boredom. The worst fear I have is to be stuck on a plane for 16 hours (happened to me once on the way to Australia) where I have nothing to do. There is an existential void.
Honestly, I would rather be in physical pain, than feel boredom.
Is boredom good for us?
Of course, there are upsides to boredom. When we are bored, that is what allows us to be creative. When we are bored, we want to stimulate ourselves — so we find creative ways to do so.
If a kid is bored and doesn’t own an iPad— they might create their own toys out of sticks and stones, and cardboard.
If an adult is bored and doesn’t have a smartphone on them (for some weird reason) they might actually go on a walk, look around, and chat to some strangers.
Photography to treat boredom
I know a lot of people who were prescribed to go on long walks by their doctors (after surgery, physical therapy, etc). But they found walking to be boring. So they decided to take a camera on their walks, to make it less boring. And funny enough, that is how they discovered “street photography.”
I think photography is a great tool for us to fight boredom in our lives— and become more creative, to self-express ourselves, and to do something “productive” with our leisure time.
I feel boredom is the opposite of feeling focused and “in the zone.” Psychologists call an engaged, creative state— a state of “flow” — where hours run by in minutes, where we lose a sense of self, and when we feel fully-alive.
For me, when I’m shooting on the streets, I feel a sense of flow. I no longer feel boredom. I feel like I’m having an out-of-body experience. I feel totally connected with my camera. I focus on composing, framing, and photographing the beauty around me. I feel more connected with my environment, society, and other people.
How to be less bored in photography
If you want to fight boredom with your photography, here are some practical tips:
1. Don’t photograph what bores you:
This is simple advice— don’t photograph what bores you. Yet how often do we follow these silly “365 day photo challenges” — where you need to take a photograph every day, no matter what?
I have friends who have done these challenges, and their photography ends up feeling like a chore. They photograph random stuff that they feel no natural drive to photograph.
The solution: only photograph what interests you. Only photograph what excites you.
This means, finding your style in photography is knowing what not to photograph. Simply don’t photograph what bores you.
For example, I used to like shooting landscapes, but it soon bored me. I found that photographing people was far more challenging, fun, and interesting. This is how I transitioned from landscape/architecture photography to street photography.
Don’t photograph what bores you.
2. Find beauty in everything:
If you’re hunting to take photos of double-rainbows, people in pink afros, and the extraordinary— you will be disappointed. You will become addicted to traveling to exotic places, just to stimulate your jaded retinas.
Rather, I feel true happiness and joy in photography is to find beauty in everything. To find beauty in a cup of coffee. To find beauty in a flower growing out of the concrete. To find beauty in an old couple holding hands on the street.
Find beauty in ordinary things. This is the only way to prevent being bored of living in the same city and place, and finding joy in everything.
3. Challenge yourself:
To be human is to grow. We’re constantly decaying, and by growing, we are battling our atrophying bodies.
You need to challenge yourself to grow as a photographer. If you keep doing the same old thing over and over again — you might like be Henri Cartier-Bresson, who quit photography. Josef Koudelka, on the other hand, kept innovating with his photography (going from shooting wide-angle 25mm, to 35mm/50mm, to shooting panoramic landscapes).
If you find photographing single-subjects to be boring and unchallenging, try to shoot multi-subjects and layers.
If you find black and white boring, try color.
If you find landscape photography boring, try out street photography.
If you’re bored shooting street photography, try shooting portrait or fashion photography.
Photograph what is outside of your comfort zone, and work hard to take your work to the next level.
We want to embrace boredom in a positive way — knowing that it is a sign from our biological bodies that we need more novelty, excitement, fun, and growth. By knowing what boring things in life to avoid is a good way to live.
I was bored by math and science— and pursued sociology and the humanities instead. I was bored by a 9-5 job, and decided to become an entrepreneur and work for myself. Whenever I am bored in a social situation, I no longer feel guilty for just walking away and excusing myself.
Avoid boredom; seek growth. Challenge yourself, and become the best version of yourself.
Photography is not just about making photos, it is about personal growth. It is about finding beauty in everything in the world, and it is a way to cure yourself of feeling bored or jaded in life.
So let us spend less time consuming, and more time producing. Make photos that brings joy to your soul, and share that joy with others.
Many people struggle with chronic boredom. But what exactly is boredom and what are some ways to move beyond it?
According to Wikipedia, “Boredom is an emotional and occasionally psychological state experienced when an individual is left without anything in particular to do, is not interested in their surroundings, or feels that a day or period is dull or tedious.” We all know the feeling. It is part of life. But sometimes it’s a symptom of something deeper that needs tending.
In my psychotherapy practice, I see a few main causes for chronic states of boredom:
- Boredom which functions as a protectivedefense against emotional pain. Traumatic and adverse experiences during childhood, like being raised in a chaotic household, make a child feel unsafe. The lack of safety triggers overwhelming and conflicting emotions, like rage and fear. To cope alone, a child’s mind compartmentalizes away “bad” feelings to carry on with life. But disconnecting from emotions, as much as it spares us pain, can also manifest as boredom. Boredom in this case is a byproduct of being out of touch with core emotions like sadness, anger, fear, disgust, joy, excitement, and sexual excitement. When we lose access to our core emotions, we cut off a vital source of energy that makes us feel alive. To heal, we must re-connect safely with our vast emotional world through the body .
- Boredom which functions as a signal that we are under-stimulated. In this case, the feeling of boredom tells us about an underlying need to find interests and novelty in our life. To overcome boredom, we must discover any obstacles that get in our way of finding new interests.
- Boredom also cuts off access to knowing our true wants and needs. To be in touch with wants and needs, especially when we think they are unattainable, is to feel pain in both the mind and body.
- For some people, boredom stems from a combination of all of the above and may also be recognized as procrastination or disengagement.
Rachel grew up in a chaotic household. When I met her as a young adult, she didn’t seem to care much about anything, ending almost every sentence with “whatever” and rolling her eyes. This kind of “I don’t care” defense protected Rachel from emotional discomfort. But it also disconnected her from the energy and vitality that being emotionally alive brings. She was plagued by boredom, a feeling she described as deadness, which was only alleviated when she drank wine.
For Rachel to feel better, we had to understand boredom’s protective purpose. In Accelerated Experiential Dynamic Psychotherapy (AEDP), we invite patients to envision parts of themselves that hold distressing beliefs and emotions so we can help them transform.
I asked, “Rachel, can you imagine the part of you that feels bored sitting on the sofa next to you?”
Rachel could envision the bored part of her. She saw through her adult eyes the image of a 12-year-old girl dressed in goth clothing sitting on the sofa in my office.
By whole-heartedly and without judgement welcoming parts of us that experience boredom, we learn the purpose boredom serves and what we truly need. Almost always, emotions from the past need validating, honoring, and to be felt in the body until they fully move through and out. As a person recovers from past traumas and wounds, defenses like boredom are no longer needed.
Rachel’s vitality and zest for living emerged as she processed the anger at her parents and mourned the pain she experienced in her childhood. She came to understand how “not caring” kept her safe from being hurt and disappointed by life. She learned she was strong enough and supported enough to deal with life’s challenges and the emotions they triggered. And she leaned into more adaptive ways of coping like listening to her emotions and then thinking through how best to get her needs met and solve her problems proactively. Through this work, Rachel ceased to be bored, as she was alive and engaged in all aspects of her life.
A 60-year-old man, Craig, did three years of deep emotional work to heal the trauma from having a mother with narcissistic personality disorder and a contemptuous father. Ready to graduate from therapy, he spent much more time in relaxed states. His mind was quieter. But he also noticed a sense of boredom about life. He told me he was used to being preoccupied by agitation and irritability, which were now gone. “There is so much more room in my head. I guess it used to occupy me, so now I feel weirdly bored,” he told me.
We decided to get very curious about this newfound boredom. As with Rachel, I invited him to get some separation from the bored part so we could talk to it. Craig and I both marveled at the power of talking to discrete parts like they are separate people to figure out what we need.
The trick is when you ask a question to a part of yourself, you must then listen to receive the answer. That part told him he needed to engage more with his hobbies and interests. Craig and I spent fun time discussing the things he enjoyed in life and how he might like to spend his free time. Relief from boredom was immediate as he was excited to discover new interests. After all he had been through, he felt he deserved to care for himself in this new way.
Boredom is a difficult experience. But one doesn’t need to get stuck in that state. With a stance of curiosity and compassion, we can learn the roots of boredom. When boredom tells us we need more interests, we can set a plan for trying out new experiences, practicing patience with ourselves until we find the proper balance of novelty and familiarity. If we are bored because we are defending against deeper emotions and needs, we can absolutely discover those deeper emotions and needs, honor them, and think through how to address them in safe and healthy ways. In this way, we reconnect to our vital and most authentic self.
You too can change your relationship to boredom. Want to experiment with talking to your bored parts? Here are some questions to ask:
- Is this boredom longstanding or a relatively new experience?
- When was the first time you remember being bored in such a way that you couldn’t stand it?
- What does boredom feel like physically ?
- What’s the hardest part of the experience of boredom: The way it feels physically? The assault to self-esteem? The self-judgment? The impulses to get rid of it? The negative thoughts it causes? Other?
- What, if any, impulses do the bored parts of you have?
- Is the sense of boredom always there or does it come and go?
- What triggers boredom and what makes it go away?
- Why is boredom a problem for you? Be very specific how boredom affects you.
- What does your bored part need to feel better?
For extra credit: Work the Change Triangle ! Where is boredom on the Change Triangle? If you moved your bored part to the side, what underlying emotions might you be experiencing? Once you name them, can you validate them without judging yourself?
8 tips for coping with boredom during self-isolation: York U Expert
It’s not easy being a student, parent, or caregiver under normal circumstances, let alone during a pandemic. Torontonians have been here before. During the SARS outbreak of 2003, upwards of 23,000 people in the GTA were quarantined. Housebound, they were not allowed visitors or excursions into the community – even asked to restrict dog walks to their backyard.
For many, the combo of isolation and monotony is a hotbed for numerous psychological challenges, including the menace of boredom.
Assistant Professor, John Eastwood
Photo by Paola Scattolon Photography
But John Eastwood, an assistant professor in the department of psychology in York University’s Faculty of Health, says there are ways to avoid the scourge of boredom or how to respond well when it strikes.
Here are eight tips to get you started:
1. Don’t panic
Boredom is such an unpleasant feeling, that in laboratory settings, some resort to shocking themselves with electrical current! In real life, overeating is a frequent response as we reach for yet another potato chip. We don’t like feeling bored! But, disagreeable feelings, like boredom, are normal and serve a purpose. Feelings help us meet our needs and keep us oriented towards what matters. For example, anger may signal that we are being taken advantage of, and fear tells us when we are in danger. Boredom tells us when we are at risk of stagnation. So despite being an uncomfortable feeling, we are the better for it. The challenge is to respond wisely.
The big bore, what is it good for? Boredom expert prof. John Eastwood @YorkUHealth @BoredomLab explains the impact boredom can have on our ability to work in a special radio program on Boredom on @BBCSounds https://t.co/qKHF3CY3Cu
2. Accept what you cannot change
You, your children, and other family members in self-isolation or quarantine are likely to experience boredom. Accept it. Don’t get worked up. Boredom doesn’t indicate a character flaw or poor planning – it’s just a part of life, especially life under quarantine. Let yourself feel bored long enough to listen and learn from it.
3. Find another gear
Typically, we’re propped up by routines. We rush to the 6:44 train, marching orders wait in our stuffed inbox, the kids have hockey tonight. All of a sudden, when in quarantine, all that changes. Quite simply, we are used to outsourcing the control of our attention and time. In quarantine, we may come to realize that we’re actually not that good at directing the focus of our attention – perhaps to the point of paralysis. ‘TV now and then laundry, or, tackle the laundry first?’ becomes a momentous decision. Quarantine pushes you out of a reactive gear and invites you to discover a self-determination gear.
4. Understand why you’re feeling bored
Boredom is not an absence of things to do. The bored person knows there’s stuff to do – that’s not the problem. Our smartphone is a virtual portal to the infinite; oh and there’s a lot to do in real life too. The problem is that the bored person desperately wants to be doing something but doesn’t want to do anything that is doable. When bored you can’t muster up an actionable desire or find any value in the available options. So boredom is born of disordered wanting and valuing, not an absence of possibility.
5. Take time to find clarity
Finding clarity about your desires and discovering value in possible activities might require a moment of self-reflection. Take that time. Many people report that some of the most transformative and fulfilling changes in their lives were sparked by a period of change that allowed them to reflect on their goals and values. Try journaling. Reflecting on the value of quarantine itself might help. Research shows that having a good reason for doing something makes it less boring no matter how monotonous. What’s your reason for going into isolation? Find the answer to why – why quarantine or why any activity – and you’ll be less bored.
Bored yet? That could be a good thing: Psychology prof. John Eastwood at #YorkU’s @BoredomLab @YorkUHealth explains why boredom doesn’t have to lead to a productive activity: https://t.co/8QJu6Fwtqn via @CNN
6. Avoid passive entertainment
Early in quarantine, binge-watching Netflix can seem like a great plan. But eventually, you will become restless for something more. In fact, passively consuming entertainment – treating yourself like an empty vessel in need of filling – likely makes you ripe for future boredom. What you most need when bored is the ability to reclaim authorship of your life. Tragically, we often do the precise opposite; again outsourcing a solution. Resist the urge to find the quickest anaesthetic offering remedy without cure – or worst, blunting of the motivation to address the root issue. When bored, the key is to find activities that flow from and give expression to, your passions, creativity and curiosity. And while wrestling with these big questions, you could pause to have a cup of coffee and go for a vigorous walk in nature – simple generic strategies that reduce boredom.
7. Get by with a little help from your friends
An absence of human contact makes isolation and monotony even more unbearable. Research has shown that people are more likely to be bored when alone, compared to when with others. In quarantine direct human contact might be curtailed, and in such circumstances, online connection can help beat back boredom. It’s not all bad on the Internet. But maybe you should give up the Kardashians (they are not actually your friends anyway) and Skype with a real friend you haven’t seen for years. Play an online game with others. If stuck at home with your family, gather around the dining room table for a rousing board game. Social distancing does not have to mean an absence of social connection.
8. Look for the silver lining
Potentially boring situations – that we learn to navigate without becoming bored – are rewarding. Constantly scaffolded by external forces, kept busy by the demands of life, filled up by compelling experiences, it’s possible to become disoriented and lost. Moments of pause create a space to explore who we are and what we value. What’s more, figuring out the answers to such questions can point you towards important – boredom busting – life projects.
What Professor Eastwood’s tips below
Hot Tips (How Photographers Can Cope with Hot Summer Weather)
Don’t lose your cool—or your camera equipment—when summer temperatures rise. Follow these tips when it’s Hot As Fahrenheit.
July and August are traditionally the hottest months in most parts of the US. This holds true for New York, Chicago, Los Angeles and especially Florida, where the daily high temperature in Miami averages 91 degrees in August.
Synthetic climate change appears to be exacerbating the situation. Europe is currently suffering from a deadly heat wave, with our friends in France being hit particularly hard. June 2019 was reportedly the hottest month ever, and it’s rumored that Anchorage, Alaska may hit 90 next week for the first time in recorded history.
It’s important to keep yourself covered and hydrated, as we all know. It’s also important to protect camera equipment from the ravages of solar radiation.
Black is the new silver
Black is currently the most popular color for cameras and lenses. Unfortunately, black is very, very good at absorbing heat. Metals and plastics of all colors expand when heated. Excessive heat can weaken the adhesive that cements lens elements together. In extreme cases, heat can cause acrylic-composite lens elements to become slightly deformed. Heat can also wreak havoc on camera bodies. I’m just full of good news, aren’t I?
One partial remedy is to carry your gear in a light-colored gadget bag. Domke canvas bags come immediately to mind. Light gray is also a good color choice.
If you must be exposed to direct sunlight for extended periods of time, while seated in a sports stadium for example, keep a towel at hand and cover the equipment when practical, even during use if possible. I use a large 18-percent gray microfiber cloth. In addition to reflecting a bit of the sun it also doubles as a White Balance target and can be used to wipe the LCD or lens.
Avoid leaving your camera in the car on hot days. The trunk is generally cooler than the passenger compartment and provides greater concealment and security, anyway. An inexpensive, soft-sided, insulated lunch cooler makes an okay in-car gadget bag.
And don’t forget that a camera sitting on the passenger seat can warm up fast if hit by direct sun. Stow a towel or microfiber in the car and keep the equipment covered. Not to go too far overboard, but a five-dollar NASA Emergency Blanket (Space blanket) is an ideal automobile accessory and can even double as a make-do lighting reflector in a pinch.
Black tripods and monopods can get very hot very fast too. If an object is too hot to be held comfortably in your bare hands, it’s too hot to use. No, a tripod probably won’t warp or become unstable, but if you attach a camera to a hot tripod head it can potentially damage the camera’s base plate or the electronics therein.
Beware the Vorpal SPF
Summer is the time for sunscreen, another one of your camera’s enemies. Put SPF 50 on your arms and face if you want, but keep it away from your camera. The ingredients can potentially damage lens coatings and LCD displays.
At the very least, sunscreen can leave an oily residue that attracts dirt. Pack some paper towels and use them to thoroughly clean and dry your hands after applying any chemical concoction. If you opt for wetnaps, confirm that they are free of fragrance and skin softeners, otherwise they might do as much harm as good. Finally, keep an extra microfiber cloth in your bag and wipe the LCD clean after it brushes your cheek.
BTW, the other summertime favorite, insect repellent, is even more hazardous for photographic equipment. Consider a clip-on bug badge like the one from Off! or something similar.
If you wear photochromic eyeglasses which automatically darken when exposed to ultraviolet light, consider an alternative when you’re out taking pictures. Lenses that change density make it nearly impossible to accurately judge colors.
If your eyes need UV protection, go with the traditional, non-transition sunglasses. They’re better for photographers because they’re always the same color and same opacity. I avoid Polarized sunglasses because they darken most LCD displays beyond readability. Talk to your eye doc about “true gray” lenses that are neutral in color and reduce brightness without affecting the hue.
Shouldn’t be any need to explain this one. Never, ever point a camera directly toward the sun. Not even when you’re not looking through it.
Use a lens shade—they do help. Even indoors they help you avoid bumping the front of the lens into something unforgiving, so my advice is use them all the time.
See How Tara Wray Used Photography to Cope with the Pandemic
Tara Wray found a way to turn a personal dark cloud into a hope-filled ray of sunshine for thousands of others. A highly esteemed and award-winning filmmaker and photographer, Tara generously shares some images from her latest book, Year of the Beast, and answers some photography questions for Shutterbug.
After more than a year under self-imposed house arrest because of the SARS-CoV-2 (COVID-19) coronavirus, many of us are having severe cabin-fever attacks. It will all be over soon – we keep telling ourselves – and it will, of course. But in the meantime, things can get a little rough around the edges.
We are all on a personal journey, each and every one of us. Individually we find ways to cope, to endure, to survive. For many photographers, capturing images is the mechanism of first resort. Self-medication via picture taking. Making peace with life’s demons via the rapture of visual composition and self-expression.
Photographer/filmmaker Tara Wray recognized the healthy benefits photography provides and parlayed this epiphany into a remarkable collection of work and, more importantly, created a place where others can pursue the same therapy.
Tara Wray is the founder of the Too Tired Project. This not-for-profit arts organization endeavors to assist those who use photography as a tool to salve the toxic effects of anxiety, depression and related struggles by offering a space for collective creative expression. Based in Vermont, USA, the project encompasses a worldwide community of artists participating in exhibitions, panels, workshops, photobook publishing and social engagement.
A very successful creative artist, Tara Wray is a celebrated photographer with scores of exhibits and four photobooks to her credit. Likewise she is a highly-regarded filmmaker who produced the award-winning documentary, Manhattan, Kansas and, along with Josh Melrod, produced Cartoon College.
Her latest photobook, Year of the Beast, was published in 2021 by Too Tired Press.
Much has already been written about the deeper, more psychological aspects of Tara Wray’s creations. If you want to delve into those aspects of her work, check out this excellent story that appears on NPR’s website. ‘Year of the Beast’: How Tara Wray Used Photography To ‘Process Fear And Uncertainty’.
In the following interview we seek to answer three questions that might be on the minds of Shutterbug readers. Tara’s answers are presented here verbatim.
SHUTTERBUG: In the overall scheme of your creative projects, how important is the photo equipment you use? Care to share what brand of camera(s) you mainly use and which lenses?
WRAY: Very important but not in a pixel peeping sort of way. I like the adage that the best camera is the one you have with you! To that end, I always carry my little Fuji X-S10 and the Fuji 35mm f1.4 in my purse. I used to shoot with a Sony A7 and I loved that camera but it felt too heavy so I sold it. I like using old 35mm manual lenses on the Fuji. I have an Olympus 50mm I’m particularly fond of. I had a bunch of the old nuclear Takumars but I went down a rabbit hole on the internet about the radiation in them and sold them all. Now I wish I hadn’t. Ha!
SHUTTERBUG: Was there a specific moment when you felt compelled to create the Too Tired Project?
WRAY: There is actually. I was going to the grocery store before picking my kids up from school and trying to figure out how to keep up with the emails I was receiving from people who had seen Too Tired for Sunshine and wanted to share their own photo projects with me, ones they’d made in response to their struggles with depression or other mental health issues. I thought why not create an Instagram where people can engage with one another by sharing photos and stories about mental health. I started it later that day and it took off immediately. Now we’re a community of nearly 18k strong. (@tootiredproject)
SHUTTERBUG: What advice can you give to our readers who have just spent the past 50+ weeks in semi-isolation because of the pandemic?
WRAY: Not sure I’m qualified to offer any advice, but what I always try to do when I’m feeling anxious or overwhelmed is just pick up my camera and start recording what’s going on around me. It’s a way to create order out of chaos, a way to feel in control of the uncontrollable, or at least distract you long enough to feel some relief.
If you are struggling with stress, anxiety, depression or other mental health issues, consult your health care professional for help. More resources are available from the National Institute for Mental Health.
Last update: 09 September, 2018
Boredom encourages children to explore their creative side. Parents should teach their children how to deal with boredom so they can learn to use their time in a productive way.
It’s necessary to motivate children to find dynamic ways to fight boredom on their own. Looking for a positive and entertaining activity will make them think and challenge their imagination.
Parents’ reaction in facing children’s boredom
“I’m bored” – two words that worry some parents and cause no reaction of any kind in others. Some parents run to find any type of entertainment to avoid crying and tantrums, while others remain calm.
Pleasing children with things that could turn out to be very expensive for the family finances is a mistake. Giving them everything they demand will make them more dependent on you. You may even end up exhausted, tense or angry at seeing that your choices don’t please your child.
How to deal with boredom
Saying “I’m bored” is nothing more than a cry for attention from children. In reality, they don’t have solid reasons to feel bored.
Actually, parents can transform boredom into a special occasion to do something that there is normally not enough time for. Some options include preparing a delicious cupcake recipe, washing the car or giving the pets a bath. Other ideas include simple things like talking or playing a sport or a game.
Here we’ll give you some other tips that you can put into practice to teach your child how to deal with boredom:
Fun virtual learning
Being connected to the internet gives kids the possibility of combining two very important factors for their development: education and technology. Teach them how to choose didactic, entertaining and productive content online. This will allow them to have fun while learning different things.
Drawing and coloring
It has been proven that coloring helps the mind deal with situations of tension. It also allows children to unleash their creativity, while improving their mood and relaxing their mind.
Board games like parchís, monopoly or dominoes, or even dancing, rehearsing group choreographies and playing in open spaces are some options.
These options allow children to be mentally and physically active. Meanwhile, they experience what it’s like to work and have fun in groups. These activities bring a special chance to be in their loved ones’ company or to gain new friendships.
Visiting a park, taking a walk in a mall, throughout the city or breathing in fresh air in other environments; all of that helps us forget about boredom. Going outside is a great alternative, and it always provides inspiration.
The best response when children say they are feeling bored is letting them take the initiative in changing the situation. This way, they’ll be able to find something that stimulates them by their own means.
This will give them the opportunity to think on their own, instead of waiting for someone else to solve the problem. They will be more open to new ideas, and become more independent and self-sufficient.
This will also allow them to explore their creative abilities and their imagination. It will teach them how to organize their free time when they have some available.
Children who feel bored have in front of them a new world full of possibilities ready to be discovered. These can be: a new pastime or aspect of their personality, or something that will entertain them, satisfy them and raise their self-esteem.
These recommendations will allow your children to learn how to use their free time productively. Don’t forget that getting bored every once in a while predisposes the mind to imagination and opens the way toward creativity.
In the same way, boredom motivates kids to look for a solution to deal with it. Children need this time to daydream and contemplate their surroundings with calmness.
- Antón, M. C. (2012). El aburrimiento. Perspectivas en Psicología: Revista de Psicología y Ciencias Afines, 9(3), 104-109. https://www.redalyc.org/pdf/4835/483549016015.pdf
- Christian, M., & Roldán, P. Aburrimiento y Espacio.
- Ovalle, J. (1993). Poemas divertidos para niños aburridos. Editorial Universitaria.
- Salanova Soria, M. (2009). Organizaciones saludables, organizaciones resilientes. http://repositori.uji.es/xmlui/handle/10234/73232
- VELASCO, J. R. CURA CONTRA EL ABURRIMIENTO. LA FILOSOFÍA COMO RESISTENCIA ALES, 103.
Last update: 09 September, 2018