Are you rolling your eyes, thinking “boredom and GOOD? Are you kidding?” Well, hear me out. While some studies have shown boredom can cause a lot of mental health issues, a few recent studies have shown that boredom can actually be good for you. Aren’t you curious to know what exactly is boredom? Why do we get bored? Why is it bad and under what circumstances is it good? Let’s dive deep into boredom!!(?)
What is boredom and why does it happen?
According to a research paper published by John D. Eastwood, definition of boredom is “the aversive experience of wanting, but being unable to engage in satisfying activity”. Basically, it’s that feeling of “Arghhh I don’t feel like doing it” or sometimes, “I don’t feel like doing anything”. Psychologist Otto Feniechel says “boredom involves the desire for mental engagement and inhibition of that engagement simultaneously”. Bored people don’t know what is it they desire to do.
Why do we get bored? What is happening inside our brains when we’re bored? Why are some people bored easily and some are not?
Dopamine is a chemical secreted in our brain when experiencing something joyful and exciting. Some researchers suggest that people who get bored easily might have naturally lower levels of dopamine.
But an interesting study was done on boredom by Sammy Perone, a professor at Washington state university. A group of people was given a boring task to do for 10 minutes and their brain waves were measured. The people who are good at coping with boredom in their daily lives showed more activity in the left brain (the left brain is more active when people are thinking about other things and looking for engagement). And the people who were bored easily showed high activity in the right brain (the right brain is more active when we are anxious). So, the bottom line of the study was how we cope with boredom really matters. It’s always helpful to engage in some activity (or to think about interesting topics/to let your mind wander when you’re bored) rather than focusing on how bored you are.
Boredom can also happen due to-
Inadequate nutrition and rest
No control over the situation- when you don’t have many options, say you’re waiting in a doctor’s office or in an airport where you can’t go anywhere, can’t do much.
Why is boredom bad for your mental health?
When you’re bored, you just waste a lot of time. You can easily lose a few years of your life because of boredom!
Boredom takes a toll on your mental health. Speaking in terms of evolution, we weren’t really programmed to stay still and do nothing for a long time. So, boredom is not an emotion that’s there to help us, unlike the other emotions like fear or anger.
Research shows that bored people are more likely to get addicted to smoking, alcohol, and overeating.
Modern technology has given so many gadgets in our hands, every time we’re bored, we start scrolling through our phones or laptops; we get easily addicted to it.
Studies have shown boredom is closely related to anxiety and depression, and also it can make people indulge in self-destructing activities.
Why is boredom good for you?
Surprisingly, getting bored can also be good for you!! Sandi Mann is a psychologist who has studied boredom like no one ever did before! Her findings say that boredom can really spark creativity in us. When we’re bored, our mind wanders in different directions, and it can help boost our creativity.
Boredom can also help you start a new hobby. Let’s say you’re really bored of all the things you did, you’re doing, you don’t ‘feel’ like doing any of them today. Something new might interest you at that moment. You might end up taking this new hobby.
BUT, there’s a catch here!
For you to make use of the boredom, YOU NEED TO GET BORED, THE RIGHT WAY!
Yeah! That’s right.
How to use boredom for good?
When you're bored next time,
Embrace the boredom and let your mind wander- Stop the temptation to scroll through your phone. Take a walk without your phone or take a shower without playing any music in the background. Or just sit with your thoughts.
(1) Take any object and LOOK at it like you never did before, observe the intricate details.
(2) Observe a sound that you can HEAR at the moment
(3) TOUCH something and feel it. Is it soft or hard? How does it feel against your skin?
(4) SMELL something. Is it a familiar smell or completely new? Is it sweet or sour?
(5) TASTE a dish and savor it thoroughly.
How to overcome boredom?
Even though getting bored is good, staying in that state for a long time is not good. How to overcome boredom? Here are some things you can do when you’re bored-
Start a new hobby or pick up the one you used to pursue, but stopped because of various reasons.
Take a different route to the office.
Try a recipe that you’ve never tried before and have a candlelight dinner.
Take a course which is completely new to you.
Strike up a conversation with a stranger or someone you’ve never talked to before.
Clear up photos and videos from your phone. In the process, you can look at the old photos and relish your beautiful memories.
That was all about boredom. Hope you didn’t get bored reading it!!
Don’t forget to like and share this post if you liked it.
And I’d love to know what you usually do when you’re bored. Tell me in the comments below.