"People say nothing is impossible, but I do nothing every day." - A A Milne
Fighting Boredom Made Easy
Boredom can strike in many different ways. Some men and women experience it only in certain situations. Others are prone to boredom during much of their waking hours.
Whether you’re occasionally frustrated at the airport because your flight is delayed or you’re moping through each workday, you can train your mind to prevent boredom or cope with it better. Try these strategies for feeling more alert and engaged.
Dealing with Occasional Boredom
Boredom is a relatively minor issue for most adults. If you’re perky except for when you’re doing your taxes or standing in line at the Department of Motor Vehicles, all you probably need are a few tweaks.
1. Identify your triggers. Jobs that are too hard or too easy can bore you because your mind starts to wander. You have difficulty concentrating and you want to do something else. Once you know what sets you off, you can create solutions like playing music while you vacuum the stairs or rewarding yourself with a frozen yogurt after you complete your expense reports.
2. Check your body language. Look in a mirror. Smiling and sitting up straight will liven you up instantly.
3. Drop it. Maybe you can eliminate some of the chores that make you yawn. See how much your dry cleaner charges for hemming pants or other simple tailoring. Order groceries online instead of spending your weekends in overcrowded supermarkets.
Dealing with Chronic Boredom
Psychologists believe that adults who are frequently bored tend to need a lot of novelty and variety. Understanding your personality can help you to remain safe and happy while you seek excitement.
1. Meditate on mindfulness. Build up your self-awareness. Practice monitoring your feelings and describing them. It’s the first step to accepting them. Let go of expectations. Appreciate the present moment without rehashing your last conflict at the office or anticipating how slow rush hour traffic will be.
2. Lengthen your attention span. Strengthen your powers of concentration. Greater focus makes life more interesting. Find activities that give you a flow experience where time flies by. Time yourself when you need to tackle tedious jobs. Ten minutes of filing at a time may be your comfort level.
3. Consider the consequences. The downside of sensation seeking is that you may put yourself at risk for overeating or other excesses. Think before you surrender to impulses so you’ll make constructive choices.
4. Reach out to others. On the bright side, you’re likely to be a people person. Surround yourself with supportive family and friends. Talk with your partner if your marriage feels stale. A second honeymoon or a couples gym membership may help you to restore your connection.
Dealing with Any Form of Boredom
There are also some strategies that can be effective for banishing any type of listlessness. Try these tips to restore your enthusiasm.
1. Think about your purpose. Engaging in meaningful activities fights fatigue and increases your satisfaction with life. Ask yourself how your profession or your hobbies contribute to your health and wellbeing.
2. Go offline. Some experts speculate that hours of YouTube videos and Netflix binges may interfere with our ability to entertain ourselves. Take a break from the computer each day to play the piano or bake a cake.
3. Loosen up. By definition, boredom is a state of arousal. If you can feel at home with a little downtime, those intervals cease to be boring.
Think of slow computers and long movie trailers as an opportunity to relax instead of feeling trapped.
Boring moments can remind you to devote your time to meaningful activities and develop patience for the routine delays that are part of modern life.
"To sit with a dog on a hillside on a glorious afternoon is to be back in Eden, where doing nothing was not boring – it was peace." - Milan Kundera
The Benefits of Boredom
Boredom is generally viewed as an unpleasant emotional state. It is characterized by feelings of dissatisfaction, restlessness, and mental fatigue (Eastwood et al., 2012).
There are benefits to being bored according to psychologists
Boredom can improve our mental health. In this age of information, our brains are overloaded with information and distractions. The wealth of information means a scarcity of attention (Wojtowicz, et al., 2020). Attention uses one’s limited cognitive resources for productive activities.
Boredom can increase creativity Boredom can provide an opportunity to turn inward and use the time for thought and reflection. Boredom can enable creativity and problem-solving by allowing the mind to wander and daydream. In one study (Mann, 2018)
Boredom motivates a search for novelty. Without boredom, humans would not have the taste for adventure and novelty-seeking that makes us who we are—intelligent, curious, and constantly seeking out the next thing (Bench & Lench, 2013).
Boredom motivates the pursuit of new goals. Boredom is an emotional signal that we are not doing what we want to be doing (Elpidorou, 2014).
Boredom and self-control skills. Boredom affects the ability to focus and pay attention because the interest is lost. Among students, boredom results in disengagement from class and poor performance. They can feel bored when they lack the cognitive resources to focus. The ability to focus and self-regulate is correlated with the ability to handle boredom
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Sources referenced in article
Wojtowicz, Zachary and Chater, Nick and Loewenstein, George F., Boredom and Flow: An Opportunity Cost Theory of Attention-Directing Motivational States (March 13, 2019). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3339123 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.3339123
Mann Sandi (2018), The Science of Boredom: The Upside (and Downside) of Downtime Robinson (January 16, 2018)
Goldberg, Elkhonon (2009). The New Executive Brain: Frontal Lobes in a complex World. New York: Oxford University Press.
Elpidorou A. (2014), The bright side of boredom, Front. Psychol.,03.