What is the biggest issue you have regarding emotional eating? I asked my coaching group that question the other day. One woman answered: boredom. Then she asked, “Is boredom a feeling?” This was a very intriguing question to me. I’d never considered boredom a feeling. I have always considered it a reaction to circumstances. Actually, maybe every emotion is at its core a reaction to circumstances.

woman resting head on hand with bored look.

What Is Boredom?

Is boredom a personality type? Are there those who have a tendency towards being bored? Could all of these be just who we are or is it something we can change? And if we can stop being bored, do we want to do that.

I used to not manage boredom well at all. As a matter of fact boredom eating was one of the main causes of me gaining up to 430 pounds. Then after a certain point, a person’s weight fatigues them so much they can’t physically do much at all. However since we all have to eat, food becomes the only way we can think of to stave off boredom. Boredom then becomes a major issue in our lives.

Boredom is defined as the feeling of being uninterested in what you are doing. Notice that word, the feeling of being uninterested in what you are doing. That means you are doing something at the time.

It still seems to me it is not a feeling like happy, angry, depressed, elated, ashamed or sad. It’s a reaction to circumstances like a teacher droning on about a subject I’m not interested in, sitting through a high school or college graduation with 800 students names being called while you  wait for the your child’s name to be uttered so you can scream while they cross the stage, waiting at the doctor’s office especially when you didn’t bring a book or having to wait in the car for the doctor’s office to allow you in the door, spending time in the hospital just waiting for the doctor to come and sign your release to go home, waiting to board an airplane and the list goes on.

I’ve not been surprised to find as I listen to various individuals tell me when they overeat the most is just sitting at home watching television. That’s what makes them want to mindlessly eat chips, popcorn, ice cream, cookies or anything they can. They are trying to stave off boredom by watching tv and yet they are still eating out of boredom as well.

Circumstantial Boredom

When we are bored there are circumstances we cannot change, however there are those we can change. For those we cannot change, we can anticipate them and perhaps make a plan of how we will get through it.

However there are many we can change. We can make a better plan for what to do with our evening. If watching tv makes you want to eat, maybe you need to take up a hobby that occupies your hands while watching tv, like sewing, crocheting or knitting. Or maybe you can make a plan to stop watching tv and start working on a project at home or engage in learning and doing a new hobby.

During these recent pandemic days even though I have plenty to do there are times I have said, “I’m bored.” I don’t want to write, read or watch another thing. I wanted to go to my favorite pool and swim, but I couldn’t because of the restrictions. wanted to invite my small group over, but I couldn’t. I wanted to have my extended family all together again, but the pandemic restrictions forbade it. I wanted to go to lunch with my friends, but there was nowhere to go. Praise God I can do those things now.

When I get bored with everything in my world. I love to just go for  a drive. At least that hasn’t been curtailed. A change of scenery always does a wonder for my spirit, especially if the sun is shining.

Change Stops Boredom

Boredom is different for different people. For those like me who want to have some measure of control over our circumstances, if we are in a situation where we are stuck for a long period of time without anything to do have no control over that line moving forward, we are bored.

When we have control over what we are doing, then we can choose to do something different. We can change things up to stop boredom from overtaking us. Unfortunately, this is where many of us make the choice to eat something that is off our chosen lifestyle change plan even though we aren’t hungry.

We eat because it’s something to do. We aren’t hungry, we just want a change of pace. It’s an activity of sorts. Maybe it’s the act of getting up from where we are and walking to the kitchen. Maybe it’s the activity of baking something or even starting to make supper even though it’s nowhere near supper time. Overeating to relieve boredom is a real thing that many fall prey to.

Like any other kind of overeating, boredom eating relieves the feeling for a minute or two, but then we need more food to relieve the sadness, anger, loneliness or frustration of being bored.

Eating Away Monotony

When we eat out of boredom we are trying get rid of the monotony of whatever state we are in. If we eat to get rid of boredom, we’re going to find ourselves using food as entertainment instead of fuel. Food is not entertainment. Maybe what we are craving is not the food, but the interaction with others. If you can’t go see them, call them. Send them a text. Write them a letter. Do something creative for them.

Boredom, according to Psychology Today, didn’t come into existence until the late 18th Century. Before that time people spent all their time making sure they had good to eat and a secure place to live. Boredom was an irrelevant term.

Boredom became a thing  when the Industrial Revolution started. Blame it on technology. This is another argument for boredom being circumstantial rather than emotional.

Call to Action

On the positive side, boredom can be a call to action or an impetus to achievement. When we are bored we have time to think. We can go back over our lives and reflect on what we did or didn’t do and make a plan to change whatever we can in the years we have remaining on this earth.

It can be the kick in the pants we need to start our healthy living and lifestyle change plan. It can give us the time and space to work on ourselves, to develop our own mission statement about what we want our lives to be like.

Are you bored? That’s awesome. That means you have time to work with God to make a miracle happen in your life.

Get Active

God does have a bit to say about boredom. Proverbs 13:4 MSG says this: “Indolence wants it all and gets nothing;  the energetic have something to show for their lives.” Indolence means avoidance of activity or exertion. Some synonyms are habitually idle, inactive and listless.

The truth is when we are active, we don’t have time to be bored. That’s why I think boredom is less of an emotion and more of a motivation problem.

We want to do something, but we don’t want to put the effort towards actually doing that. Some of it maybe due to circumstances. But if we are habitually bored at every turn, we need to examine what emotions are beneath that.

Where There Is No Vision

To stave off boredom, to stave off lack of interest in going forward with any action plan we need a clear vision. Proverbs 29:18 says, “Where there is no vision, the people perish.” God has clearly  defined for me that my mission is to write the vision and make it plain so that those who read it may run with it. That’s a loose translation of Habakkuk 2:2. It’s my life verse, my mission, my purpose.

What is your vision? Start with a Scripture God is impressing on your heart and go from there. I promise, this journey with God will be far from boring if you let Him lead you. Then, you’ll have a purpose that goes far beyond constantly eating.

There’s more on this topic in podcast episode 34, Boredom Eating. Check it out HERE.

Teresa Shields Parker
Teresa Shields Parker is a Christian weight loss author, coach and speaker, who has lost more than 250 pounds. Her book, "Sweet Grace: How I Lost 250 Pounds and Stopped Trying to Earn God's Favor", is the number 1 Christian Weight Loss Memoir on Amazon. Her other books include: "Sweet Journey to Transformation: Practical Steps to Lose Weight and Live Healthy", "Sweet Freedom: Losing Weight and Keeping It Off With God's Help", "Sweet Change: True Stories of Transformation" and "Sweet Hunger: Developing an Appetite for God".

She also offers Overcomers Christian Weight Loss Academy and VIP one-on-one coaching program, both available under the weight loss tab. To book Teresa for your next event, check the Speaking tab on her website. Also check out her blog and Sweet Grace for Your Journey podcast under the tabs by those names.