If I would ask you to make a list of mental states that are bad for your health what would that list include? Anger, sure, stress, absolutely, depression, without a doubt but would your list include boredom? Well, it should even though it might not be an obvious health risk, boredom can have some pretty profoundly negative effects on your health. This is how being bored at work can negatively affect your health.
It Can Cost You Your Job
Beyond the self-evident effect of getting canned because of looking out the window instead of doing your work, Dr John Eastwood of the York University in Toronto claims that being bored can lead to an increased risk of making mistakes. And if there is one thing that employers hate more, than not getting their year-end bonus, it’s bored employees that f*ck sh*t up.
Although many scientists, researchers and even philosophers have dedicated resources to understanding and combating boredom, their labors have been comically fruitless. They do know that they are three levels of cognitive arousal (giggidy) or attention that need to break-down before boredom can set in: one is active arousal which is the type that keeps you engaged at work, an orientating system that warns you of impending threats when thinking or “caught up in your thoughts” (like those idiots that walk into the street while texting) and consciously (let’s say forcibly) staying awake when the task we are doing isn’t that stimulating. When all three of those functions break down you have boredom.
It Can Drive You to The Bottle
Much like a bad relationship, boredom can increase your chances of engaging in self-harming behavior such as an increased risk of drug and alcohol abuse. This is a function of boredom: it creates a feeling of longing in the person experiencing the emotion and most people’s reaction to this gnawing undefined need is intoxication. It can also cause a person to engage in overeating because if you can define what you need to fill that emotional hole, just stuff it full of food, right?
It Gets Worse
Because I am not one of these happy go lucky types, I’d like to inform you that the effects of boredom can run much deeper than binging on squeezable cheese covered bacon strips and chasing it down with a bottle of Chardonnay. People that have experienced drama tend to experience boredom as anxiety and depression due to their propensity to shut down emotionally, thus making it difficult to pin point the source of their negative feelings. If you noticed there’s a vicious cycle of symptoms developing here: boredom brings harmful behaviors such as gambling, drug and alcohol abuse, it also increases feelings of depression and anxiety, which those two emotions come back full circle to self-medication via the aforementioned harmful behaviors.
Although this might sound like hippie dippie malarkey one of boredom’s nemeses is mindfulness or forcing yourself to be constantly and actively aware of what you are doing, with who and where. By actively engaging your mind in this cognitively demanding awareness you can stave off the ill effects of boredom. On the other hand, you could also embrace boredom with positivity using it as break from the over-stimulation of our contemporary lifestyles.
Do you know of any other negative effects boredom might have or how to beat it? Let us know in the comments section below.