Boredom may be good for you
Author: Thato Tinte
Why you may not be wasting your time
While it’s surprising to think that despite the busy lives we usually lead or the constant stimulation we derive from technology, the feeling of boredom may at times be unavoidable.
More surprising is that boredom may not be all that bad for us.
It boosts creativity
According to 2012 research from the University of Central Lancashire, boredom can encourage creativity and innovation.
The paper reveals that boredom is not the result of having nothing to do but rather, it’s a situation where none of the options you have at your disposal appeal to you.
The findings suggest that boredom leads to heightened awareness as a restless mind may want to find stimulation. And to do so, it searches for new ideas.
This is a time that can be put to good use
When you’re bored, signals are sent to your brain to “shake things up” – thus encouraging you to explore new thoughts.
Daydreaming was also found to involve the same processes that govern imagination and creativity. This means that boredom felt during passive activities (such as attending tedious meetings) can heighten this “daydreaming effect” on creativity and stimulate the mind to become more creative.
Think of the last time you had a “big idea” – chances are, it occurred during humdrum activities you probably considered “boring”.
It allows you to practice mindfulness
Boredom is, essentially, a lack of stimulation. But contrary to popular belief, unplugging our brains from the constant need to keep “busy” may do us good.
Doing nothing is the very essence of mindfulness and if you take away the smartphones, TV, laptop and other technological fillers we often use to mask our boredom, you actually allow your mind to “mindfully” wander.
A Perspectives on Psychological Science study describes mindfulness as “the non-judgmental awareness of experiences in the present moment, which can produce beneficial effects on wellbeing and stress”
Forbes contributor Jen Roberts, who has a master’s degree in psychology and is a certified leadership coach, adds that boredom allows time to quiet our mind and body and it is this slowing down that can afford the replenishment of our physical and mental energy.
Boredom thus facilitates the pursuit of alternative goals
Boredom is important; it keeps us in touch with what we care about and often forces us to act and pursue goals more “stimulating, interesting, fulfilling and challenging” than what our current pursuits may be.
This is what researcher Andreas Elpidorou of the University of Louisville suggests in the article The Bright Side of Boredom found in the journal Frontiers in Psychology.
Elpidorou says that boredom informs us when we’re out of tune with our interests and safeguards us from “long-term dullness.”
To “alleviate” this type of boredom, don’t just “change activities,” says Elpidorou.
Instead, get in touch with those plans, goals, experiences and wishes that leave you inspired and feeling emotionally, cognitively and socially rewarded.
So, the next time you find yourself yawning with boredom, remember to practice mindfulness and allow yourself some ideation; you might be surprised at the wins that can come from this idle time.