Boredom is one of the most commonly admitted to and experienced feelings. We are for example, less likely to admit that we are feeling scared, upset or lonely than we are bored.
This may be because unlike these other feelings, boredom is something which we don’t feel others will judge us negatively for. In fact, the opposite is often the case, as some people see boredom as an indicator that they are superior or smarter than others.
As a result, they feel bored because they are not being stimulated or challenged enough, and so find other people, things or events “boring”.
Could Your Boredom Be A Distraction?
Whilst the underlying message of boredom is that we are not being stimulated/challenged enough, boredom is something that can easily be confused with other our feelings.
For example, most people find that they can get rid of the discomfort which boredom brings by keeping themselves busy. So they conclude that they were bored because doing that activity made their feeling of boredom go away.
Most of the time, this is the case. But if you find that you have to be constantly busy in order to avoid feeling bored, then you may be using various activities as a means of self-distraction.
A person who keeps themselves busy all day such as by cleaning the house or doing lots of small chores for example, may be using these activities to distract themselves from a painful feeling that they would otherwise experience if they did not do those activities.
Just like other distractors such as drugs, alcohol and entertainment, your distractor may provide you with short-term relief, but ultimately, it will fail to address your real unfulfilled needs. This then leads to feelings of frustration and a greater addiction to your distractor.
For example, if you are feeling lonely and confuse it with feeling bored, then you may try to distract yourself from the discomfort that loneliness brings by keeping yourself busy with lots of other activities (distracters).
However, because your need for love and relationships is not being addressed (because you are distracting yourself from it), your feelings of loneliness will become more painful which will then result in feelings of frustration that could eventually lead to depression.
Brain Stimulation & Boredom
Another important point to remember is that although boredom can come as a result of not being stimulated/challenged enough, being constantly busy doesn’t necessarily mean that you are receiving an adequate level of mental/physical stimulation and challenge.
This is because the brain quickly adapts to repeated patterns of activity, and when this adaptation occurs, those activities no longer require very much brain power to do.
In real world terms, this means that you can have an extremely busy day, but if you are always doing the same things, you can still feel very bored doing them because the brain is not being stimulated enough.
The only way to successfully alleviate this type of boredom, is to add some diversity to your life and engage in new activities that give you a sense of satisfaction upon their completion. These are usually the things that you find fun and interesting to do.
Dealing With Boredom
Use the following guidelines to help you identify the feeling of boredom and then respond appropriately to it.
1) Identify the feeling
Boredom generally comes as a result of not having very much to do, or doing lots of repetitive tasks that have become habitual in nature (i.e., habits).
2) Remember the meaning
The message boredom tells you is that what you are currently doing is not providing you with an adequate level of mental/physical stimulation and challenge.
3) Decide why you are feeling this way
If you are not being stimulated and challenged enough in your life, ask yourself, why? What are you doing when you feel bored? Try to be as specific as possible.
4) Do something to change how you feel
By listening to the message of boredom, you will know that in order to remove your boredom you have to do something stimulating and challenging. This means doing something new, something you haven’t done before.
Ideally, this activity should be related in some way to the reason why you are feeling bored. Although, it doesn’t have to be, because true boredom will go away once you stimulate your brain enough.
For example, if you say I’m feeling bored because I haven’t got anything to do, you could alleviate your boredom simply by doing something which you find interesting or fun.
Because we each have different interests in life, the way you get rid of your boredom will be unique to you. So don’t assume that what other people find interesting will be enough to stop you from feeling bored.
Also, remember that if at any time you feel frustrated trying to get rid of your boredom (such as by doing things but still feeling bored), then there is a good chance that whatever you are doing is not fun or interesting enough to stimulate your brain.
Frustration is also often a sign that you are trying to distract yourself from a more painful underlying feeling such as anger, loneliness or sadness. The message of frustration is that you have an unfulfilled need, and that what you are currently doing is not satisfying that need.
Feeling bored is something all of us have experienced at some point in our life, and comes as a result of a lack of stimulation of the brain. The more you stimulate your brain, the less likely you are to feel bored.
Reviewed – 29th March 2016