Being bored is good for the mind and mental health

Being Bored

Being bored is not as bad as we think. Indeed, according to a recently published study doredom would foster creativity and productivity, as long as we were bored in the right way…

You will no longer see the long time spent in waiting rooms in the same way. According to a study published in the magazine Academy of Management Discoveries, boredom could boost your creativity as well as your productivity. To reach this conclusion, the researchers formed two groups of people: the first had to perform a boring task, such as sorting beans to distribute them in colored bowls, the second was dedicated to an interesting and stimulating craft activity.

The participants were then submitted to a questionnaire made of questions whose answers called for some creativity (ex: What excuses do you use when you are late?). It  was found that the people who performed the boring tasks before the test outperformed others in terms of quantity and quality of ideas. The researchers explain why.

“Boredom lies in finding a neural simulation that is not satisfied,” says Sandi Mann to Time Magazine, senior lecturer in psychology at Central Lancashire University in the UK and author of the article “The Upside of Downtime : Why Boredom Is Good.” “If we can not find stimulus, our mind will create it,” she adds. To let one’s mind wander would therefore generate “spontaneous creativity”, which would provide inspiration, but also solutions to our problems.

Nevertheless, for this to work, you have to be bored in the right way: indeed, daydreaming allows you to escape our daily life and all its stressors: screens, work, untimely notifications… Indeed, being bored with your smartphone in your hand is not the “good” kind of boredom. To be truly bored, one would have to get away from modern life long enough.

To find real boredom, Sandi Mann explains that you have to choose an activity that requires little or no concentration. Walking on a familiar route, swimming or just sitting with your eyes closed and letting your mind wander (without music or stimulation) are good ways to start.

It is also crucial to disconnect during this time. Our cultural attachment to our phones destroys, according to Sandi Mann, our ability to let ourselves be bored: “We try to swipe and scroll our way through boredom, but every time we take out our phone, we do not let our mind wander and solve our problem,” she explains. “Our tolerance of boredom changes completely and we need more and more ways to stop getting bored,” she added.

To stimulate your creativity, think about it the next time get bored: resist the urge to use your phone.

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Eric Thomas

Eric, originally from Nigeria, currently resides in Florida and covers a wide range of topics for The talking Democrat.