7 Practical Ways to Overcome Feeling Tired, Bored, or Ennui

Jul 10, 2024
7 Practical Ways to Overcome Feeling Tired, Bored, or Ennui


I think you know how much I love the movie Inside Out. I spoke about it in a recent article. I'm a huge fan because this movie represents the IFS (Internal Family Systems) parts work I do with my clients. It teaches us how to understand and appreciate the different roles our parts, emotions, and behaviours play within us, and how to help certain parts (like anxiety) step back.

I recently took my girls to see Inside Out 2, and one of the new characters (parts) that I fell in love with was Ennui, who lay on the couch, scrolling the phone, not feeling bothered.

ennui /ɒnˈwiː/ noun

A feeling of listlessness and dissatisfaction arising from a lack of occupation or excitement.

Can you relate?

So many of my clients have recently spoken about this feeling of ennui—this inner inertia, lack of motivation, and apathy about life or work.

There are many reasons why we feel ennui. Here are a few that might be impacting you:

  • Hormonal Changes: Ennui often shows up in adolescence and peri-menopause.
  • Seasonal Changes: In winter, we often feel a bit more ‘meh’ and the excitement factor can be missing.
  • Post-COVID/Epidemic Fatigue: Yes, we were in survival mode for quite some time.
  • Burnout, Overwhelm, or Stress: These can put our nervous system into a freeze response.
  • Dopamine Deficiency: This causes a lack of motivation or pleasure.
  • Feeling Misaligned with Our Purpose: This leads to a greater sense of meaninglessness.

Cold Water Swims or Showers

One reason we might feel a sense of apathy and lack of motivation could be due to a dopamine deficiency or flatlining. Dopamine is our neurotransmitter that plays a key role in reward and pleasure.

Did you know that by embracing cold water swims or ice baths, you can increase your daily dopamine release by 250%? Cold exposure also activates several other feel-good hormones including:

  • Norepinephrine: Enhances focus, attention, and energy levels.
  • Endorphins: Leads to a feeling of euphoria or a "runner's high."
  • Serotonin: Regulates mood, appetite, and sleep, contributing to improved mood and well-being.

So take the plunge! We started a weekly winter swim group, and I can assure you this will shift you out of ennui.

Social Connection

The world is facing an epidemic of loneliness right now, impacting our health, mindset, and motivation. Lack of quality social connection has a huge impact on our nervous system safety and our ability to feel calm, connected, and joyful.

Go out of your way to spend time with friends and family, meet for a walk, or share food together. This will boost your oxytocin levels (love hormones) and calm your nervous system.

Spend time with role models and people who keep you accountable to being the person you want to be.

Schedule White Space
The world we live in is saturated with information, notifications, and reminders, compelling us to fill every moment of the day with ‘doing’ or ‘consuming’, even when we are exhausted. Just as we schedule our to-do’s, we also need to schedule "to-don’t" time—time to truly rest our bodies and minds and create white space. In this space, our brain does its best problem-solving, allowing us to feel resourced and recalibrated.

Reduce Digital Consumption
Overconsuming in the digital space, especially social media, can make us feel apathetic and dissatisfied and it can take us away from creativity, thinking and feeling.

Consider tightening your boundaries with digital devices. Start monitoring your screen time and choose screen-free windows during the day and use them in other ways that lift you up. This can help reset your brain's reward system (dopamine), reduce stress, and improve your overall well-being.

Start Small to Get Out of the “Meh” Feeling

When you're feeling overwhelmed by ennui, it can be challenging to muster the energy for big changes. Starting small can make things feel more doable (the brain is easily overwhelmed by big tasks). Just like the idea of atomic habits by James Clear, the tiniest action can help you build momentum towards feeling more engaged and motivated.

Begin with simple, manageable tasks—accomplishing these micro-tasks can provide a sense of achievement and motivate you to take on larger tasks. Whether it's tidying up a small area of your home (starting with one drawer), writing a single paragraph, or taking a short walk, these small actions can create a ripple effect of productivity and positivity.

What tiny action could you do that would help you on your path today?

Move your body

Often this is the last thing we feel like when we are feeling unmotivated or ennui but movement can boost endorphins and improve your mood. We have a new puppy and I have noticed that just doing short bursts of movement and taking mini-breaks outside can help energise us.

Start with just 5 - 10 minutes (and then increase incrementally) and do something that brings you joy, a walk in nature, dancing in the living room, or stretching on your mat, you will be amazed how quickly you can change your state with movement.

MOST IMPORTANTLY: Find Alignment with What Lights You Up - Your Purpose
When we lack direction or feel misaligned with our work or role in the world, it can lead to dissatisfaction, boredom, and feeling stuck. Our purpose can be a guiding force that propels us forward because we are doing what we love, being of service, and leading with our strengths. This makes us feel inspired and motivated, letting ennui take a backseat.

If you are ready to move beyond feeling a bit bored or apathetic and want to uncover the real reasons holding you back from your purpose, potential, or the life you desire, be sure to join my upcoming FREE master class.


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