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The Mental, Physical and Emotional Benefits of
Staying Involved in New Activities


Every Monday through Friday, does your week look pretty much the same? Get up, eat breakfast, go to work, come home, watch TV, go to bed -- or a similar variation? And do your weekends also have a familiar ring to them, with rarely anything arising to change up the routine?

learning new things

A repressive routine could be making you bored and lazy.

Then it's time you took action, fast.

Settling into routines, even those you find extremely comforting and easy, puts you at risk of emotional and physical strife -- otherwise known as "the blahs."

Ranking way up there on the risk-list of routine are:

1. Boredom

In the 1950s, Austrian psychoanalyst Otto Fenichel wrote of a particular type of boredom that occurs when your drives and desires are repressed. The result? Aimlessness. This type of boredom, which he dubbed "pathological," is different from regular boredom, which occurs, according to Fenichel in Scientific American, "when we must not do what we want to do, or must do what we do not want to do."

Meanwhile, research from psychologist Stephen Vodanovich of the University of West Florida has found that people who are bored are at risk of:

  • Anxiety

  • Depression

  • Drug and alcohol addiction

  • Anger and aggressive behavior

  • Lack of interpersonal skills

  • Performing poorly at work and school

Indeed, while some experts maintain that you should be able to feel entertained no matter what you're doing -- simply by accessing your inner mind -- others say that humans need external stimulation in the form of novelty, excitement and variety.

2. Laziness

Humans naturally have a desire to be productive, and when this productivity is interrupted -- for instance by a repressing routine -- you may lose this natural motivation. As a result, you may experience what is commonly known as laziness, but what Mel Levine, M.D., a professor of pediatrics at the University of North Carolina Medical School and director of its Clinical Center for the Study of Development and Learning, calls "output failure."

All too often, laziness also stems from boredom or a complete disinterest in your daily tasks.

3. Brain Drain

A monotonous routine does nothing to enhance your mind. However, numerous studies show that learning new things, traveling and otherwise "changing things up" regularly keeps your brain active and on its toes. Staying mentally active in this way can literally keep your brain cells strong.

learning new things

What would make you this happy? Figure it out and make it a part of your life.

Meanwhile, staying involved in new activities is an excellent way to increase your personal fulfillment in life and:

  • Increase your social interaction and sense of belonging

  • Foster your creativity and talents

  • Offset monotony and boredom

  • Help you realize your life's purpose

Are You Trapped by Routine?

Here are the top ways to break out of a repressing routine and start living the exciting life you desire.

  1. Do something that motivates you. Do NOT spend all your time only doing things you HAVE to do. Make time to do those you really WANT to do.

  2. Exercise. Exercise is an excellent way to boost your energy levels and put you in a better mood -- so you're more optimistic and ready to take on a new challenge.

  3. Make some changes. These can be big -- like a change in career -- or small, like joining a yoga class. The main point is just to do something different. Check out, founded by SixWise columnist Brian Vaszily, for some powerful and transformative new experiences.

  4. Start a new hobby. Volunteering, painting, gardening, traveling, golfing ... whatever you find fun and mentally stimulating.

  5. Hang out with fun, interesting people. You know the ones. These are the people who are taking off for weekends in the wine country or going on about their latest adventure flipping houses. Make friends with them and let their enthusiasm rub off on you.

Recommended Reading

How to Combat the Growing Problem of Loneliness and Social Isolation in Our Lives

Why Some People Never Get Tired, and How You Can Join Their Ranks


Scientific American December 2007

The University of Maine Cooperative Extension

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