A boring life may not be the goal many of us seek, but the truth is that occasional boredom can have a number of health benefits. Indeed, allowing yourself to be bored more often can pay off in terms of productivity, creativity and ability to manage stress.
On the other hand, if you force yourself to be focused and productive 24/7, you may actually be compromising your ability to be calm and satisfied in the long run. Psychologists believe there is a middle ground when it comes to boredom: We don’t want to experience too much or too little of it. Let’s look at the causes of boredom, the types of problems and benefits it can bring, and the best ways to deal with it when it occurs.
What is boredom?
Boredom is defined as the state of boredom, i.e. lack of enthusiasm or interest. We can consider boredom as a lack of meaning. It occurs when you are not engaged in anything active or doing something but you are not interested in it.
According to experts who have studied boredom, there are three different types:
– banal boredom, like queuing in a queue
– deep malaise, i.e. a feeling of dissatisfaction with the general experience of life
– the ineffable deficit, or the feeling that something is missing, usually something that is familiar to us.
In other words, so-called “simple boredom” (or mundane) seems more manageable and even beneficial, as it can cause us to notice more things around us and seek out interesting tasks. . By contrast, “existential boredom” is described as a feeling of emptiness and alienation, which can be detrimental to mental health.
What are the effects of boredom on a person?
Ultimately, it depends on each individual, as some appreciate downtime and dull moments more than others.
Boredom can sometimes lead to behaviors and symptoms such as:
– Feelings of restlessness and anxiety
– Eating under the influence of emotion
– brain fog
– Sadness or disappointment, in other words, the feeling that we are missing something or that we are missing out on an interesting opportunity
– Symptoms of depression: Depression may be linked to boredom, which experts say could be due to how some bored people view their lives; they may feel they lack meaningful relationships, purpose, passion, imagination, or initiative.
– A higher risk of substance abuse (researchers show that teenagers who report being frequently bored are 50% more likely to start smoking, drinking and using illegal drugs than their non-bored peers).
– Higher risk of reckless acts, such as driving recklessly, dropping out of school, becoming unemployed or gambling irresponsibly.
What are the causes of boredom?
What are the underlying reasons for boredom? Experts believe that the main causes of boredom are a lack of meaning (we don’t care about what we’re doing) and a drop in attention (we can’t concentrate on a task or activity) . When we find ourselves in a situation that doesn’t interest us or seems uninteresting, that’s when boredom strikes.
There are many different times in our life when we can feel bored, such as:
– By doing monotonous tasks at home.
– While driving or commuting to work.
– When we exercise, if we don’t find the activity fun or rewarding.
– In conversations with people we do not find interesting.
– When we watch, listen to or read something that we find boring.
Certain personality traits make people more likely to be bored, including lack of self-control, symptoms of anxiety, impulsiveness, depression, and substance abuse. People with certain personality disorders, such as borderline personality disorder, may also have trouble feeling bored, which can cause anxiety.
People who struggle with fatigue, due to health issues or lack of sleep, may also find themselves in boring situations more often because they lack the energy to seek out fun experiences. Even people who have suffered from certain brain disorders or head trauma that impact the orbitofrontal cortex are more prone to boredom because this area of the frontal lobe affects the feeling of reward.
Interestingly, researchers have found that people tend to experience the most boredom when they’re teenagers and the least when they’re in their 50s. It makes sense that there are fewer boring times in the middle of life, because that’s when most people have the most responsibilities, such as work, family, school, volunteering, hobbies, etc. Boredom tends to increase slightly in old age, because that’s when many people are retired, socialize less, have less energy, and may have cognitive impairment.
Potential Benefits of Boredom
Here’s the good news: While boredom isn’t terribly exciting, if you indulge in it, it can actually improve your life. As an article published by Psychology Today puts it: “Boredom is a catalyst for change and an opportunity for reflection.”
The potential benefits of boredom include:
– Increase self-awareness about what you like and dislike.
– Use your imagination and creativity, especially because you are more inclined to daydream when you are bored. Boredom can be especially helpful to children, as it encourages them to be entertained and be independent.
– It stimulates relational skills and conflict resolution, as it gives you the opportunity to reflect on past arguments or mistakes.
– encourage you to rethink your priorities and move towards something more satisfying. (For example, if you are often very bored at work, you might consider another career).
– Encourage you to seek new experiences, which can open your mind and perspective.
– Reduce procrastination. If you have free time, this may be the boost you need to start a project or complete a task. That said, some people use procrastination and boredom to avoid facing painful thoughts.
How to relieve/deal with boredom
How to relieve boredom, and above all, should we try to do it?
The key to using boredom and downtime to your advantage is to find activities that are both meaningful and interesting. Here are some ideas to achieve this:
1. Less screen time, more self-care
Instead of scrolling through your phone or other devices when you have free time, take the opportunity to unplug and take care of yourself, such as meditating, doing breathing exercises, taking a walk outside, or tidying up. your living space. Researchers believe that heavy use of electronic devices in free time, including social media use, can increase anxiety and depression. If you use this time to take care of yourself in other ways, you’re much more likely to feel calm, satisfied, and clear-headed, which helps you deal with stress.
2. Settle into a state of flow
A “fluid state” describes being fully engaged in a task. It occurs when a task is neither too difficult nor too easy, but just difficult enough to require our full effort and concentration. It is naturally rewarding to be in a state of flow and it is the opposite of boredom.
What are the ways to get moving? Choose an activity that challenges you, and do it without distraction. Try :
– a different type of exercise or sport
– a new board or computer game
– a creative activity, such as artistic or musical creation
– cycling in a picturesque place
– focus on a professional project for 30 minutes straight
– build something with their hands.
3. Combine something challenging with something boring
When you’re doing something mundane, like household chores or commuting, try to do something enjoyable along with it. For example, redirect your attention to a different activity, such as listening to music or a podcast or doodling while studying, cleaning, or exercising.
4. Sharpen your mental abilities
To keep your brain in top shape as you age, do activities that stimulate your mind, such as crosswords, puzzles, learning a new language or new recipes, a drawing class, etc. Bonus: many of these activities are great for improving your concentration and memory. Regardless of your age, when you’re sitting daydreaming or relaxing, you can also try to plan or prepare for the day or week ahead.
Make mental lists in your mind or try to practice visualization, which involves imagining in detail how a scenario is going to play out. You can also make a mental list of things you are grateful for that happened that day, which is great for reducing stress.
5. Use your skills and talents for something meaningful
Find activities that make you feel empowered and contribute to the greater good. You can donate your time or resources to a local organization, or write helpful blog posts to give advice to others. When you use your free time to improve the lives of others, everyone wins, since it increases your happiness and your meaning of life at the same time.
When we are bored, we lack enthusiasm or interest. We may be doing nothing at all or doing something that doesn’t hold our attention or doesn’t seem to have any real purpose.
What are the symptoms and signs of boredom? Boredom has both advantages and disadvantages. Too much boredom can cause anxiety, restlessness and depression, while too little boredom doesn’t give us enough time to rest, think and be imaginative.
Psychologists believe that a little boredom is a good thing because it has the power to motivate us to pursue new goals and have new experiences. It can help improve self-awareness, conflict resolution, and planning. If you find yourself in boring situations more often than you would like, look for activities that are simulative, new and meaningful. You can volunteer, read, exercise, make art, listen to music, cook or clean.