“I’m bored.” All of our heads shake in unison as we agree that we have muttered this phrase at least once in our lives, no matter our age. These common two words simply show that you may not know what to do at a certain moment. Whether it is five minutes or five hours, boredom is an emotional state that could mean you aren’t satisfied with your current task or the task isn’t making an impact on you. Symptoms include a limited attention span, feelings of emptiness and frustration, and a lack of interest. Fatigue and feeling nervous are other symptoms of boredom.
There are ways to overcome boredom. You could start with finding out why you are bored in the first place. Is it due to laziness or are you feeling unmotivated? From there, you could help to resolve this by getting some rest, setting goals, and creating plans. Other options include changing your surroundings and refocusing your energy. However, being bored isn’t such a bad thing.
Research shows there are health benefits to boredom. These empty moments allow a person to slow down, unplug, and reconnect with themselves in addition to other benefits.
First, your brain is able to rest and improve your overall brain health. Your mind slows down and recharges. Neuroscientist and lecturer at the Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, Alicia Walf, has proven in research that it is “critical for brain health to let yourself be bored from time to time”. Think about it: your brain works 24/7, absorbing sounds, sights, tastes, and much more that are around you. Boredom provides your brain the opportunity to nod off and absorb information at a slower pace. If you are able, get outside the next time you are bored. Research has shown that being in nature gives your brain a better change of focus and the chance to get some mental rest.
Secondly, boredom brings out the creativity in people. When a person is bored, they are looking for something to do or something to stimulate their mind. When that doesn’t happen, our brains take over and start daydreaming. Who knows, you may be able to come up with a new invention, story, or a plan for dinner while you are daydreaming. All you need to do is just not stress and let your mind run free.
Boredom can also help you be a better person and engage in self-reflection. During these down moments, a person is often trying to find meaning, usually about themselves. Think inward and reflect on your current circumstances, values, and behaviors. It is a great time to possibly readjust your attitudes, make changes, and improvements in your life. Maybe you always wanted to become more charitable, therefore, use the time you are bored to create a plan and strategy to make that happen. Also, your relationships with friends and family can improve. Neuroscientists have found that when our brains aren’t busy with other thoughts, we can focus on our social interactions and relationships with others. Our activities soon turn into ways to reach out and reconnect with our loved ones.
Lastly, being bored is good for your mental health. Stepping away from work, social media, emails, etc. can provide an escape from the daily grind. This all goes back to the rest, recharging, and turning your mind off for a little bit. However, it is important to correctly engage in these benefits, because, on the flip side, boredom has been linked to causing depression and anxiety.
Psychology lecturer at the University of Central Lancashire in England and author Sandi Mann stated in the TIME article, “Being Bored Can Be Good for You – If You Do It Right” that it is important not to confuse boredom with relaxation. To make the most out of being bored, Mann suggests taking part in an activity that is stress-free and requires little attention. These activities include walking outside, meditating, sitting with your eyes closed, journaling, killing time while waiting for an appointment, or doing a routine task, such as washing dishes. These activities allow for your mind to redirect its focus to find another interest.
The next time you are bored, don’t worry about it and feel as if you need to be doing something. Instead, use this time to embrace the boredom. You may be surprised at what new ideas and thoughts you’ll discover.