Is It Healthier to Be Too Busy or Too Bored?

By Jenny Everett, SELF magazine

Are you so busy today that you're not even sure how you'll make it through the rest of the week?

Believe it or not, it's better than the alternative. A new study published in the Journal Psychological Science confirms that busy people are happier than those who are idle or have more I'm Bored (insert whiney voice) downtime.

Tiring as it may be, accomplishing a bazillion little things in a day (from tackling soap scum on the shower door to finishing a big work project) is like a happy pill. On the flip side, lazy days tend to leave people feeling a little blue.

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"Boredom can make the most beautiful day a drag," says Kiki Weingarten, co-founder of DLC Executive Coaching and Consulting in New York City. "It saps creativity, energy, enthusiasm, and can sometimes get people ruminating and brooding on what's wrong in their lives. This can begin a downward spiral that's harder to get out of than if they'd just done something fun, creative, mind-expanding or even just time-consuming. Whether you're a business person, writer, artist, student, or finding-yourself-during-a-down-economy, staying busy keeps you healthy, excited for opportunities and stronger in every way."

Here are some fun strategies for erasing boredom from your life:

1. Get creative. Create a soul-searching collage, suggests Debbie Mandel, author of Addicted to Stress. Cut out images, photos, add dried flowers, simply doodle on the page. Add anything your eye is drawn to or comes to mind. When it's complete, look for a theme.

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2. De-clutter. You THINK you don't like to clean, but if you're like us, you feel pretty darn good when it's done. Better than, say, if you watched back-to-back episodes of "Jersey Shore." According to Mandel, busy-work tasks such as cleaning out your purse or organizing drawers and closets can improve focus and mental clarity--which spurs happiness and satisfaction. It's also production: "You see the essence of you and what you really need."

3. Take a walk--and bring your camera. Snap photos of things that you find especially pleasing or interesting. This will force you to notice and appreciate things you'd normally pass right by.

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4. Re-decorate. Not a full overhaul, just simply re-arrange some of your knick-knacks or books. This will help you see them with renewed enthusiasm--and it won't cost you a cent. For a more intense project, makeover a space in your house where you percolate ideas, says Mandel. "Paint it, decorate it with cues for spontaneity and joy, using aromas, photos, or music."

5. Write a letter. Like an actual hand-written letter. Can be to an old friend, a family member, or even to yourself (or a pet!). Emails are often banged out so quickly that we don't quite get to say what's really in our head. Taking your time to get your thoughts on paper can inspire you to communicate in deeper ways, which is hugely satisfying. In case you forgot the process: You then stamp it and put it in a mailbox. We kid.

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Photo Credit: Condé Nast Digital Studio