Finding peace in a daily routine


Andrew Neel

“Maintaining a routine enables us to take care of our daily responsibilities which in turn allows us the time to focus on our mental and physical health,” said Child Psychologist Lisa Summers.

The alarm clock beside her rings out at 6:30 am. 

The shrill noise fills Carlmont senior Katelyn Nightengale’s entire room, a loud reminder of the start of another boring day.

As she gets up to brush her teeth and change her clothes, she lets out a large sigh. Every day feels like the one before it, and as college looms within the next year, Nightengale feels as though these last days of high school are going by too quickly.

“I think everyone often feels compelled to lead an amazing life, fixated on leaving an impact before it’s ‘too late,’” Nightengale said. 

She has felt pressure regarding boredom since a very young age. As a teenager, daily life is typically repetitive, yet these feelings of boredom are oftentimes coupled with feeling unmotivated and lazy. 

According to “Social and Personality Compass” by Erin C. Westgate, director of the Florida Social Cognition and Emotional Lab, “boredom plays a role in signaling the need for change to restore successful attention in meaningful activity.”

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New research from the University of Michigan’s institute for social research reveals that teenagers are the largest age group to report high levels of boredom for extended periods of time. Researchers also looked at teeenagers’ use of online social networking. The results found that more use of social networking was associated with high rates of boredom. Many teenagers use social networking in an attempt to reduce boredom periods, yet it could be that the passive nature of social networking itself is contributing to high boredom.

Child psychologist Lisa Summers has seen the growing rates of unmotivation seen in adolescents. 

“There is definitely a great deal of pressure from society to lead an ‘interesting and fulfilling life.’ Much of this, in my professional opinion, comes from social media. The term, ‘fear of missing out’ (a.k.a ‘FOMO’) added to the Oxford Dictionary in 2013, refers to ‘the discomfort we feel when we think that our peers are having more fun than we are,’” Summers said.   

According to the University of Michigan, a lack of mental stimulation leads to periods of boredom, which can then result in feelings of laziness and unaccomplishment. 

Jaime Abdilla, a science teacher at Carlmont, noticed the amount of pressure on the students she’s surrounded by every day. 

“I feel that there is immense pressure on young people to be accomplished … to be exceptional, to be the best. Colleges look for it [and] parents love to brag about it,” Abdilla said. 

Some people focus on constant feelings of boredom and unaccomplishment rather than regarding every day as a routine. 

“Maintaining a routine enables us to take care of our daily responsibilities which in turn allows us the time to focus on our mental and physical health,” Summers said. “Doing what feels like the same thing every day can still have slight variation, and it is healthier to focus on the little differences and stability of maintaining a routine than comparing your life to others.”

Dr. Brad Brenner at NYC therapy expressed the importance of establishing a regular routine.

“By establishing a daily routine, we can set aside time to take care of tasks and focus on our mental and physical health. Routines are essential at every stage of life—from childhood and adolescence to adulthood. They help us cope with change, create healthy habits, improve interpersonal relationships, and reduce stress,” Brenner said. 

With the rollercoaster of events that was the past year and a half, students’ lives have forever changed, and the lessons they’ve learned have provided a new outlook. 

Nightengale reflected on her past year during online school and its mental health benefits.

“I had a lot of time to focus on myself and the importance of keeping a daily routine every day. It was very comforting to know what was happening all the time, and I’ve learned that there’s beauty in simplicity,” Nightengale said.