Bored of being bored
It may feel like we’ve been on one long slog since last March. There’s been little opportunity to do what we would usually enjoy doing, like going on holiday, attending festivals, eating in our favourite restaurants or visiting art galleries. So, the vast majority of us have probably experienced some level of boredom or fatigue which stems from doing the same activities over and over again.
Additionally, in this modern world our social structure coupled with new technological advancements have us living life at a fast pace. We are expected to think more, do more and achieve more every day. Our brains are constantly overstimulated so it’s no surprise that when we take a moment away from our fast paced routine to do nothing, the feeling of boredom sets in. We’re left feeling agitated and restless.
The benefits of boredom
The positive news is that as we unwillingly go through this boredom-inducing routine there is scientific research to suggest that boredom could actually be a good thing. A study published in the journal Academy of Management Discoveries, uncovered that boredom can spark productivity and creativity.
Our bored state can provide the space we require to think more clearly and when the lockdown lifts we could find ourselves eager to engage with the real world.
Dr Sandi Mann, a researcher at the University of Central Lancashire elaborated on this theory when she discussed the effects of boredom. Mann stated that “If you ask people to do nothing, to the point where they get really bored, they then become creative and start thinking in novel and productive ways. The lockdown could turn out to be one of the world’s most creative times ever.”
A Creative Explosion
Neuroscientist, James Danckert, and psychologist, John D. Eastwood, in their new book Out of My Skull: The Psychology of Boredom describe boredom as “a cognitive state that has something in common with tip-of-the-tongue syndrome—a sensation that something is missing, though we can’t quite say what.” Could it be that this sensation, this something that is sitting on the tip of our tongue, be the creative explosion we must experience through lockdown boredom? We are all guilty at one point or another of saying we will do more positive things that fulfil us, if only we had more free time.
Boredom gives us more time to contemplate, letting our brains idle and let new ideas emerge. We might want to take that online course, which may lead to a change in career path. Maybe through boredom we could learn how to take existing skills and apply them in an online format, which gives us a creative outlet, a new focus, some income and newly gained confidence in our ‘suppressed skills’.
A desire for desires
Boredom gives us the realisation, the quiet time to stop and think and to be grateful for the spare time we do have now to make a change. Now that we have more time to think about the things we could do when we are once again pandemic free, it will encourage us to beat boredom in lockdown. It gives us hope, but it may also urge us to apply ourselves and instead of being bored, it may spark something in us and push us to investigate these desires we have.
Writer Leo Tolstoy defined boredom as “a desire for desires.” So, how about we embrace the moments we have now in lockdown to search for our desires though the frustrating feelings of boredom. Your brain will thank you for it and so will the world once we are free to do the things we miss the most.