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Boredom: Bad for Your Health, Good for Your Mind

Boredom: Bad for Your Health, Good for Your Mind

While the experience of boredom may be unavoidable, we still go to great lengths to eradicate it. But the more we try, the more we become enslaved to mindless entertainment. 

What’s the Latest Development?

If you live life according to a routine (like most of us do), then it’s likely that boredom will encroach on your weekend. Whether we’re bored at home or bored in a crowd, our age of on-demand entertainment has made eradicating boredomdefined as the experience of wanting, but being unable, to engage in satisfying activityeasier and harder than ever. “The problem is we’ve become passive recipients of stimulation,” says York University psychologist Dr. John Eastwood. “We say, ‘I’m bored, so I’ll put on the TV or go to a loud movie.’ But boredom is like quicksand: the more we thrash around, the quicker we’ll sink.”

What’s the Big Idea?

As people turn to coarser thrills in their attempt to eradicate boredom, destructive behavior can easily result. Activities like drinking and gambling, which offer high degrees of stimulation, also carry the risk of addiction. Yet boredom may be essential to living a mindful and reflective life. Dr Esther Priyadharshini, a senior lecturer in education at the University of East Anglia, says we should see boredom in a positive light: “We can’t avoid boredom – it’s an inevitable human emotion. We have to accept it as legitimate and find ways it can be harnessed. … We all need vacant time to mull things over.”

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