Boredom is a part of growing up, but what do you do when you experience it as an adult? Many of us were bored beyond belief during pandemic lockdowns. Some studies show that teens today are experiencing more boredom than they did in the past, as well.
Click start to play today’s Crossword, where you can find ‘boredom’ in one of the clues.
Let’s face it, we’re all going to feel bored at some point in our lives. But we don’t have to suffer through it. Here are ways to make the science of boredom work for you, instead of against you, and to alter the experience so that it’s more rewarding:
1. Understand why it happens
According to a November 2022 report in US-based news website The New York Times, we often feel bored when we’re in a position where we can’t pay attention – the task we’re doing may be too easy or too difficult. We may also experience boredom when the activity doesn’t feel particularly meaningful. For instance, you might be reading a book that’s predictable and uninteresting – so even though you can pay attention to it, you likely don’t want to. Another situation that causes boredom is when we’re not really doing anything at all and we feel listless and a bit lost. So, the next time you’re bored, figure out which of these reasons is the root cause of it.
2. Tweak the task
Now that we know why we’re bored, we can work on addressing the issue. But this might depend on the situation and how much flexibility we have. The best solution? Stop doing what you’re doing, if you can, and do something else. But if it’s an easy task that’s bothering you, consider trying something new or challenging if you can. If you have to stick with the task, brainstorm ways to make it interesting or fun – for instance, if you have to unload and scan boxes all day at work, you could play games with your co-workers to make it more challenging. If the task is too hard, break it up into smaller parts so it feels more manageable.
3. Re-frame tasks that aren’t meaningful enough
If the task just doesn’t feel worthwhile, it may be best to re-frame how you think about it. Think of the tasks’ utility, for instance, and how it could help achieve bigger goals. A child who hates maths could be encouraged to think about how it might help her down the line, and perhaps even make her better at her dream job. A 2021 study by the American Psychological Association found that such re-framing helped students engage and do better in school.
A July 2021 study published in the journal Royal Society Open Science cautions that scrolling on your phone when you’re bored may actually cause you to feel more bored. Instead, when you’re feeling listless, it may help to refer to a mental list of activities that you usually find fulfilling. Whether it’s knitting, playing an instrument, drawing or any other hobby, it’s far more rewarding that doomscrolling – and if you’re able to do it with a friend, the activity becomes even more meaningful.