“I’m bored”, those two words uttered by so many children and adults over the last year….but, how much is boredom a problem and how much is it a blessing?
Boredom, in it’s simplest form, is mental fatigue created by monotony or lack of stimulation which often leaves us with a lack of interest and empty sensation.
Has, living in a world where everything is at our finger tips 24/7 added to the depth of those empty sensations?
In a world where you can shop online 24/7, get lost in phones and computer games, we work all hours of the day and night, and the world is open7 days a week – we rarely get a chance to be bored. We are masters at switching between activities and being on the go.
Manoush Zomorodi, in her 2017 TED talk, discusses that over a decade ago, we multi-tasked between activities once every 3 minutes. However, now that same occurrence is every 45 seconds. Leaving a generation of us who are addicted to gratification, interaction and stimulation and the moment that we don’t get it – we complain of feeling bored.
More so, some people don’t actually know what boredom feels like and so when boredom appears it can be a deeply uncomfortable feeling!
So, is boredom actually good for us?
How much do we need?
We can be quick to offer children activities and engagement all the time to avoid boredom, so for some young children and teenagers the current climate will be very hard to swallow, as when opportunities and experiences drop – how do we manage those uncomfortable feelings if we have never learnt to sit in them and reap their benefits?
If we can create a balance between stimulation (a mixture of physical activity, intellectual challenge, social opportunities, creative experiences) and downtime which creates a low level boredom it can increase our creativity, enhance our problem solving skills and improve our perceptions of the world and tasks that we need to complete. Boredom allows the brain to process, develop connections and develop a deeper connection with ourselves and the world around us. Additionally this benefits mental health, as a preoccupation with being busy is often indicative that we are avoiding emotions.
However, if boredom is the majority, and not carefully balanced, it quickly becomes destructive and damaging. Boredom that lasts days, weeks or months can frequent lead to spiralling mental health, low mood, lack of motivation and sometimes feelings of despair or disconnection. Frequently, children whose balance is out of sync can find themselves feeling lost in their own worlds and finding that nothing interests them anymore and nothing feels positive or optimistic.
So how can we create the balance?
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