Boredom, Your Health and Your Sense of Purpose

By Nikki Harper

Staff Writer for Wake Up World

Are you bored? Everyone is, now and then, adults and kids alike. Indeed, research suggests that more than six out of ten adults in the US experience boredom at least once every ten days [1]. You probably remember being told by your parents that only boring people get bored, or that there are no uninteresting things, only uninterested people – or any one of a variation on those themes which frustrated parents tend to tell fretting offspring.

Maybe you’ve got kids yourself and have hit them with the dreaded ‘boredom is good for you’? It’s true that some studies have found that boredom sparks creativity [2], so it’s not necessarily always a bad thing. However, there are at least 3 ways in which boredom is bad for your health:

1 Being Often Bored Affects Your Mental Health

If you bore very easily, you may be more prone to a range of mental health problems, including depression, anxiety, poor cognitive performance and social isolation [4].

Meanwhile, at the opposite end of the scale, being frequently bored is also associated with poor impulse control and risk-taking behaviors, particularly but not only in teens [5].

2 Boredom is More Common in People with ADHD or Traumatic Brain Injury

Those who suffer from ADHD often feel under-stimulated, which in turn easily leads to boredom. Those on the spectrum are also less able to deal with boredom or monotony, which can lead to a cycle of escalating issues [6].

Boredom is also common in people who have suffered a traumatic brain injury. Those with TMI may find that they indulge in increasingly risky behaviors due to boredom, even to the extent of impacting their own recovery [7].

3 Boredom Levels Can Predict Addiction Relapse

Those in addiction recovery need to keep their minds busy and active in order to help avoid a relapse. This can be a serious matter – a study published in the Journal of Opioid Management revealed how older recovering addicts undergoing methadone treatment were significantly more likely to relapse if they felt bored [8].

Overall, most of us would prefer not to be bored – regardless of the health impacts, it’s simply, well, boring. So what can we do about it? It might help to have an understanding of how boredom works:

How Bored You Are Depends on Your Culture

Studies have found that boredom as an emotion or a state or mind is more common in the Western world than in Asian countries [3]. The theory behind this is that Western cultures value excitement and adventure more highly, while Eastern cultures tend to value calm and meditation.

Boredom is Linked to A Sense of Purpose

Temporary, transient boredom is nothing much to worry about; the problem begins when it becomes chronic. Back in the 1980s, psychologists developed a Boredom Proneness Scale, which is still in use today – you can take a 26-question version of it here to figure out where you fall on the scale. Understanding how easily – or not – you get bored might help you to figure out how to deal with it. Boredom can be considered a warning signal from your mind that you’re not finding purpose or meaning in what you’re currently doing – and there are many ways to fix that.

Interestingly, research shows that religious people are less likely than others to be bored [9] – and one theory as to why is that people who have a particular faith are perhaps more likely to find purpose, value or meaning in what they’re doing.

Strategies for Beating Boredom

The key way to beat boredom is not, as Mom and Dad might tell you, to find something interesting to do. Thanks for that. Helpful. No, the key way to beat boredom is to identify why you are feeling bored in the first place, since boredom often masks other issues. Then it’s necessary to shift your perspective about the task in hand, and to find ways to get through it with your sanity intact. Get an overview of helpful strategies for this here.

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About the author:

Nikki Harper is a spiritualist writer, astrologer, and editor for Wake Up World. She writes about divination, astrology, mediumship and spirituality at Questionology: Astrology and Divination For the Modern World where you can also find out more about her work as a freelance astrologer and her mind-body-spirit writing and editing services. Nikki also runs a spiritualist centre in North Lincs, UK, hosting weekly mediumship demonstrations and a wide range of spiritual development courses and workshops.

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