Are you bored? Do you ever become really bored?
Research is assessing the validity of being bored and how it is actually good for you. MRI scanning of the brain has shown that whilst being bored your brain is actually piecing your day together, new research from Cambridge University suggests that downing a gear is essential for your health. This blog will outline how to practice the sacred art of being bored and how to switch down a gear that will allow your brain to fulfil vital functions.
Being bored is good for you.
Being bored used to be the bane of our childhood existence. Asking childhood rhetorical questions like:
“How long does it take to make a sandwich?”
“How long ARE the holidays!”
And yet being bored is now a rarity. In this era of social media, smartphones and non-stop notifications there is no time to think and pull back.
Whilst bored your brain is very active
Whilst doing nothing your brain is actually highly active in the background, new research from Cambridge University suggests that downing a gear is essential for your health.
With the help of MRI brain scanning research has found that boredom – a state of inactivity – seems to take as much effort as actively doing something. The brain is highly active in the background even when it is not carrying out any specific tasks.
MRI scanning has shown that whilst being bored your brain is actually piecing your day together. You are processing and allowing your brain space to catalogue new information.
In addition, valuable behaviours like creativity were increased when the brain was idle.
“During idle states, the brain is trying to make sense of the world around us by using what we already know about it” Dr Vatansever Department of Neuroscience
“Idling is not doing anything It is thinking.”
Periods of laziness enhances your productivity.
Active inactivity when your brain’s default mode network is alight with processing power, too focused mindfulness that both drives stimulation and soothes which drives you to heightened productivity – without stimulus can ironically stir you to action.
Relaxation is countercultural
Recuperation and sitting back is now countercultural. Travelling to India and hanging out was the first time since my uni days that I had sat around and chatted to people. Spent the time sitting around doing nothing just gazing at my navel. – some of the yoga poses were extreme!
The Romans debated which was better – the life of contemplation or the life of activity. Then the Protestant thinking was that contemplation was sinful. The ‘Protestant work ethic’ has become our modern ‘always working’ culture and scorns idleness.
Technology is continually invented that saves us time, that time is spent doing more and more things, and so our lives are more fast-paced and hectic than ever. Research shows that most of us are checking our smartphones nine times or more a day. Those little spaces of ‘no work’ like walking through a park are disappearing. You can even work whilst walking to work!
The faster that technology drives us, the more impatient we are
As a society grows conspicuously more restless there is an increasing appreciation of various modes of doing less. As attested to by the explosion of coffee shops, expansion of the leisure industry. There is a growing realisation that you have to make the effort to do nothing.
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Being bored is good for your health.
Slow down and enjoy life. Take the time to enjoy your mornings, instead of rushing off to work in a frenzy. Appreciate the outdoors, to actually focus on whoever you’re talking to or spending time with — instead of always being connected to your iPhone, instead of always thinking about work tasks and emails. It means single-tasking rather than switching between a multitude of tasks and focusing on none of them.
Slowing down is a conscious choice, and not always an easy one, but it leads to a greater appreciation for life and a greater level of happiness.
What are your stress symptoms?
- Repetitive thoughts?
- Rushes of anger?
- Worrying about a lot of things?
- Going over and over the same issue?
- Irritable with family and work colleagues?
- Affecting your sleep?
What can you do to slow down?
1. Go outside and watch nature.
Many of us are shut in our homes and offices and cars and trains most of the time and rarely do we get the chance to go outside. And often even when people are outside, they’re talking on their cell phones. Instead, take the time to go outside and really observe nature, take a deep breath of fresh air, enjoy the serenity of water and greenery. Exercise outdoors when you can, or find other outdoor activities to enjoy such as nature walks, hiking, swimming, etc. Feel the sensations of water and wind and earth against your skin.
2. Find pleasure in simple activities.
Whatever you’re doing, be fully present … and also appreciate every aspect of it, and find the enjoyable aspects.
The opposite of multi-tasking. Focus on one thing at a time. When you feel the urge to switch to other tasks, pause, breathe, and pull yourself back.
When you find yourself speeding up and stressing out pause, and take a deep breath. Take a couple more. Really feel the air coming into your body, and feel the stress going out. By fully focusing on each breath, you bring yourself back to the present and slow yourself down. It’s also nice to take a deep breath or two — do it now and see what I mean. 🙂
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5. Do less.
It’s hard to slow down when you are trying to do a million things. Instead, make the conscious choice to do less. Focus on what’s really important, what really needs to be done, and let go of the rest. Put space between tasks and appointments, so you can move through your days at a more leisurely pace. Read more.
6. Be present.
It’s not enough to just slow down — you need to actually be mindful of whatever you’re doing at the moment. That means when you find yourself thinking about something you need to do, or something that’s already happened, or something that might happen … gently bring yourself back to the present moment. Focus on what’s going on right now. On your actions, on your environment, on others around you.
Switch off your phone, learn to leave it behind when possible. If you work on a computer most of the day, have times when you disconnect so you can focus on other things. Being connected all the time means we’re subject to interruptions, we’re constantly stressed about information coming in, we are at the mercy of the demands of others. It’s hard to slow down when you’re always checking new messages coming in.
8. Focus on people.
Spend time with friends and family but your mind is often on other things you need to do. Listening, but you’re really thinking about what you want to say. With conscious effort, you can shut off the outside world and just be present with the person you’re with. Really connect with people rather than just meeting with them.
9. Eat slower.
Instead of cramming food down our throats as quickly as possible — leading to overeating and a lack of enjoyment of your food — learn to eat slowly. Be mindful of each bite. Appreciate the flavours and textures. Eating slowly has the double benefit of making you fuller on less food and making the food taste better.
10. Drive slower.
Speedy driving is a pretty prevalent habit in our fast-paced world. Instead, make it a habit to slow down when you drive. Appreciate your surroundings. Make it a peaceful time to contemplate your life and the things you’re passing.
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3 responses to “Research proves being bored is good for your health”
[…] Research has proven that being bored is good for your health. Whilst waiting for a chai latte, or standing outside waiting for your favourite Pilates class cultivate that feeling of being bored. Cambridge University watched brain activity whilst participants were bored playing card games that they were familiar with. Going slower and downing a gear is essential for your health and will allow your brain to fulfil vital functions. Being bored is good for you. Read more here: Being bored is good for your health […]
[…] Conversely, by filling every waking hour with activity or distractions, you don’t give you brain time to breathe. To process any input and form new connections and, as a result, come up with new ideas. […]
[…] Don’t miss: Research proves: Being bored is good for you […]