Our brains are wired to stay active. Fighting boredom is intrinsically motivated by our need to learn, experience, and transform. By any possible means.
Human beings hate being bored. At least, that is what I have learned by experience, but there is also more than one study that shows the same conclusion.
The New York Times has one example: In one social-science experiment, people were told to spend 15 minutes alone in a room with their thoughts. The only possible distraction was an electric shock they could administer to themselves. And 67 percent of men and 25 percent of women shocked themselves, choosing — as Richard Friedman, a psychiatrist, writes in a Times Op-Ed — “negative stimulation over no stimulation.”
I don’t think I have personally been that bored in my life, so I am not sure if I would prefer the electric shocks. But there is evidence that when people get bored or are risking being bored by a lack of external stimulus, their minds oscillate between constructive and destructive thinking, fixating on those thoughts and ideas that generate more of a physical sensation. That can escalate quickly, especially when crippling depression and anxiety are now affecting so many people around the world.
This last thing makes me think of kids and teens -especially now with the pandemic outcomes of social isolation- that make them end up doing stupid things. That Tide pods’s challenge is impossible to forget. And those were the “good” pre-pandemic times!
The pandemic has obviously increased bouts of boredom for many people. How can you fight it (without electric shocks)?
Try new things.
Boredom can result from feeling unchallenged, explains Erin Westgate of the University of Florida, for the website The Conversation. So use the downtime of the pandemic to take on a new activity, like cooking, gardening, home improvement, genealogy, or exercise. There are online classes and services like style developing and makeup lessons that are amazing ways to learn and develop skills these days.