“I’m bored.” Remember saying that phrase when you were little? (I do too). Now in the age of constant stimulation from cell phones, computer screens, endless apps, Netflix and social media, I can’t remember the last time I was truly bored. It may sound silly since many people view being bored as a bad thing, but being bored is really beneficial. Here’s why you should embrace the benefits of boredom.
What is boredom?
We’ve all been there. A mandatory webinar, the commute home from the office, standing in line at the grocery store, waiting for your flight at the airport. These are all grounds for complete boredom (at least in my opinion), but what exactly is boredom?
Boredom is a search for neural stimulation that isn’t satisfied. Simply stated, boredom is the state of being restless and weary through lack of interest, but before you bash boredom, give it a chance and embrace it.
Three benefits of being bored
#1 Boredom creates creativity
Countless studies have shown that boredom enables creativity and problem-solving skills. If we can’t find that neural stimulation, we will create it instead.
Elaine Taylor-Klaus, CPCC, PCC says, “Boredom is a stimulant for creativity. When your brain is saturated and always working, it doesn’t have a chance to create, but when it’s a little bored, that’s when the creative genius sneaks out between the synapses and magic happens.”
As the mind is left to daydream and wander, you may be surprised with what the mind can conceive. As the saying goes, “When left to your own devices…”
#2 Boredom increases our resilience
Emma Donovan, M.A., LPC, and mental health counselor says, “Boredom can feel uncomfortable, and the easiest thing to do is to find something to do to make the discomfort go away. But by embracing boredom and sitting with it, we can increase our resilience to uncomfortable emotions and situations.”
#3 Boredom is good for our mental health
Not only does boredom spark creativity, it can also be good for our mental health. Amy Rollo, M.A., LSSP, LPA, LPC-S licensed psychotherapist and owner of Heights Family Counseling says boredom is a time for the mind to relax, which can help with stress and mental health. Emails, social media and technology can all strain our mental health, which is why taking time away from these things (long enough to be bored) can be a much needed reprieve for us to recharge and see what develops. If you ever needed a good reason to take a social media detox, this would be it!
And take note: when it comes to boredom and relaxation, it’s important not to confuse the two. Things like meditation and yoga can be relaxing, but when it comes to true boredom, think of an activity that requires little to no attention. Separating socks, unloading the dishwasher, you get the picture. One of the easiest ways to get bored is to simply sit, close your eyes and see where your mind wanders. It’s that simple!
How to be bored
In our overstimulated society, we are constantly searching for more stimulation to keep boredom at bay, but in reality, this is counterproductive and makes us more prone to boredom. By grabbing for our phones and mindlessly scrolling every time we feel bored, we are robbing our minds of the opportunity to solve our own boredom problems.
The next time you find yourself in a boring situation, be bored! Embrace it like your creativity, mental health and problem solving skills depend on it and see what develops. Who knows what you’ll come up with…