A lot of us do not like the concept of being bored. It is not the kind of feeling we would personally seek out, unlike happiness, or amusement.

Fair enough, as moments of boredom present continuous feelings of inaction, amongst others, which are not the kind of feeling we would like to engage in due to the dullness it brings. However, it is important that we consider how boredom can in fact help us understand ourselves and psychological health.

Engaging in everyday routine means getting practical, hands-on experience into real life skills, hobbies, jobs or learning at school. However, due to continuous repetition of these routines, we may start to experience boredom, but very few of us can identify the symptoms of boredom or understand how to deal with it considering it may be a tricky emotion for a lot of us.

Boredom, as defined by John Eastwood, Professor of Psychology at York University, is the uncomfortable feeling of being unable to engage in satisfying activities.

This simply means, when we experience boredom, our brain is telling us that the activity we are engaged in at that moment is not giving us the satisfaction we want, desiring for other desires, and we do not wish to engage in any of the current available activities either.

Some Symptoms of Boredom Include:

  • Lethargy or restlessness
  • Agitation
  • Struggle to concentrate
  • Moments of inaction
  • Feelings of sadness or depression
  • Lack of motivation

 

Most researchers have agreed that boredom is present in our lives, and the experience of boredom is a signal that tells us to heed other types of action.

Like how sadness is not to make us feel depressed, boredom is not to make us feel lethargic. Alternatively, it is calling our body, brain, and mind to engage in a satisfying action, to fulfill a desire.

Boredom is sending a signal to us that the activity we are engaged in at that particular moment is not appealing; instead, we need to shift our attention to a more satisfying activity that suits our needs.

It is important to emphasize that boredom does not mean a person’s life is uninteresting or they are a boring person. In fact, it is an emotion we all experience at least once in our lifetime.

If boredom occurs, there are so many positive ways to respond to this without taking dangerous risks or overindulging in other activities.

We Can:

  • Learn to cook
  • Take a walk
  • Paint
  • Immerse oneself in nature
  • Call a family member

 

From scientific studies, we can infer that boredom cannot be avoided, and it can be generated in any circumstance. It is dependent on us to learn how to respond to boredom in ways that suit our needs without compromising our mental health, physical health, and our overall well-being.

There are several types of boredom with unique feelings and experiences. What they all have in common is: the desire to engage in another satisfying activity. If we can think of boredom as a bell that rings when it is time to engage in other activities or a physiological tool that helps remind us of a change in engagement, we would appreciate the impact of boredom in our lives.

We would understand how boredom fosters creativity and reflection; how it makes our minds wander around so many opportunities we can take on. Sometimes when you are bored, take a minute to relax and let your mind wander about different concepts e.g., nature, vacation, cooking, reading, etc. and see how creative you get along the line!

 

Blog post by Rofiat Lawal, Volunteer.

References

Bagnall, H. (Host). (2021, January 28). The Psychology of Boredom (No. 1) [Video Podcast Episode]. In Harrogate Festivals. Vimeo. James Danckert and John Eastwood – The Psychology of Boredom

Boylan, J., Seli, P., Scholer, A. A., & Danckert, J. (2021). Boredom in the COVID-19 pandemic: Trait boredom proneness, the desire to act, and rule breaking. Personality and Individual Differences, 171, 110387. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.paid.2020.110387

Danckert, J. (2020, June 15). The Threat of Boredom is a Call to Action. Behavioral Scientist Blog. https://behavioralscientist.org/the-threat-of-boredom-is-a-call-to-action/