Being bored kinda sucks, right? Every single one of us can think back to a time when we found ourselves generally bored or apathetic. And as we all know, there’s no one-size-fits-all kind of boredom. It’ll strike different people different ways. Some people deal with boredom on an occasional basis while others say they feel bored most of the time.
Whether you're occasionally frustrated by standard stuff - such as finding out that your flight is delayed or you're barely staying awake through each work day, you can retrain your brain to prevent boredom - or, at the least, learn a few coping skills.
In Layman’s Terms: How Psychologists Define Boredom
An article in Psychology Today cites a 2012 study in which researchers actually looked into the whole boredom deal.
The researchers determined that “there are a few conditions that need to be met for people to feel bored.”
In order to be bored, researchers said, people need to have a “reasonable level of psychological energy or arousal to feel bored. When people have low arousal and there is not much happening in the world, then they often feel relaxed. When they have high arousal, though, they have energy they would like to devote to something, but they cannot find anything engaging.”
And, “boredom typically occurs when people have trouble focusing their attention and they believe the reason for this difficulty is in the environment.”
So, for example, the authors say that if you’re sitting in an airport and surrounded by the standard buzz you find there, you might feel bored and assume that it’s the environment. In reality, though, it has more to do with the fact that you’re not really able to concntrate on any one thing.
“There are people having conversations that you could listen to,” the authors wrote. “You probably have something to read. There may be televisions showing the news. But, the stress of waiting for a delayed flight often makes it hard to concentrate, and so your mind jumps from one thing to another. You assume that this is caused by the environment, and so you feel boredom.”
Bust boredom with these strategies for feeling more alert and engaged.
Situational Boredom Hacks: 3 Proven Tactics to Bust Boredom
Most adults WISH they had the ability to be bored, but life gets pretty hectic. That means for the majority, boredom is a relatively minor issue. If you're generally pretty happy, save the times you’re doing stressful stuff (like working on your taxes or standing in line at the Department of Motor Vehicles), all you probably need are a few tweaks.
- Identify your triggers. Jobs that are too hard or too easy can bore you because your mind starts to wander. You have difficulty concentrating and you want to do something else. Once you know what sets you off, you can create solutions like playing music while you vacuum the stairs or rewarding yourself with a frozen yogurt after you complete your expense reports.
- Check your body language. Look in a mirror. Smiling and sitting up straight will liven you up instantly.
- Drop it. Maybe you can eliminate some of the chores that make you yawn. See how much your dry cleaner charges for hemming pants or other simple tailoring. Order groceries online instead of spending your weekends in overcrowded supermarkets.
Brain Training for the Chronically Bored: 4 Key Tips
Psychologists believe that adults who are frequently bored tend to need a lot of novelty and variety. Understanding your personality can help you to remain safe and happy while you seek excitement.
- Meditate on mindfulness. Build up your self-awareness. Practice monitoring your feelings and describing them. It's the first step to accepting them. Let go of expectations. Appreciate the present moment without rehashing your last conflict at the office or anticipating how slow rush hour traffic will be.
- Lengthen your attention span. Strengthen your powers of concentration. Greater focus makes life more interesting. Find activities that give you a flow experience where time flies by. Time yourself when you need to tackle tedious jobs. Ten minutes of filing at a time may be your comfort level.
- Consider the consequences. The downside of sensation seeking is that you may put yourself at risk for overeating or other excesses. Think before you surrender to impulses so you'll make constructive choices.
- Reach out to others. On the bright side, you're likely to be a people person. Surround yourself with supportive family and friends. Talk with your partner if your marriage feels stale. A second honeymoon or a couples gym membership may help you to restore your connection.
General Boredom Hacks: 3 Guaranteed-to-Work Fixes
There are also some strategies that can be effective for banishing any type of listlessness. Try these tips to restore your enthusiasm.
- Think about your purpose. Engaging in meaningful activities fights fatigue and increases your satisfaction with life. Ask yourself how your profession or your hobbies contribute to your health and wellbeing.
- Go offline. Some experts speculate that hours of YouTube videos and Netflix binges may interfere with our ability to entertain ourselves. Take a break from the computer each day to play the piano or bake a cake.
- Loosen up. By definition, boredom is a state of arousal. If you can feel at home with a little down time, those intervals cease to be boring.
- Read a good book that'll help you improve yourself in some way. Like one of the ones I wrote. 🙂
Think of slow computers and long movie trailers as an opportunity to relax instead of feeling trapped. Boring moments can remind you to devote your time to meaningful activities and develop patience for the routine delays that are part of modern life.
Do you ever find yourself bored? What are your favorite boredom hacks? Share your thoughts in the comments section, below, and let's talk about it!