Something is off. Is it the gloomy, overcast sky that's giving you the blahs? Nothing is grabbing your interest and you’re feeling bored. Fortunately, the feeling doesn't linger, and it doesn't take long before your enthusiasm returns and you’re back on track.
Occasional boredom is natural and typically isn't a cause for concern. But what happens when boredom shifts from occasional to ongoing? What happens when you find yourself feeling bored for an extended period?
If boredom has become your default state, it may be doing more damage than you realize. Here are seven ways boredom can harm your health and well-being.
1. Boredom drains your energy and makes you lethargic.
Boredom has a way of draining your energy, to the point where you’re left feeling tired and lethargic. This can trap you in a dangerous loop: boredom drains your energy so you become inactive, which leads to increased boredom, which leads to even less energy and more inactivity, and so on.
You know yourself best, and you can tell when you need a bit of downtime to replenish your energy. Just be careful that your downtime doesn’t lead to boredom, as this can wind up draining your energy rather than replenishing it.
2. Boredom gets you ruminating over the past.
What happens when you have time on your hands and nothing to do? Your mind wanders, and you start thinking about the past, including old hurts and regrets. But ruminating over the past doesn’t erase it or change it.
Even worse, as you remember those painful experiences and dwell on them, you’re essentially reliving them. This can stir up old feelings of anger, resentment, shame, or any other emotion you previously experienced, often with surprising intensity.
There's value in reflecting on the past when doing so enables you to learn and gain insight. But this is best done in a deliberate, purposeful fashion with clear intent. If you’re aimlessly ruminating over the past due to boredom, you’re more vulnerable to getting stuck in a negative emotional state that makes you feel worse.
3. Boredom results in your confidence taking a hit.
Engaging in meaningful activity makes you feel good about yourself and builds confidence. On the other hand, ongoing boredom makes you feel empty and disengaged, and this eats away at your confidence.
If you’re at the point where your confidence is being affected, it’s time to take action. Find something to do. Anything! Action of any kind will intercept your boredom and build your confidence, so you’re headed in the right direction.
4. Boredom leads to disrupted sleep patterns.
Boredom during the day can have you tossing and turning in your bed at night. What's the connection? An active body and mind during the day tires you out, signaling to your body that deep, restful, restorative sleep is needed. Boredom disrupts your sleep pattern by interrupting that signaling, making it harder for your body to shift from being wide awake to being sound asleep.
Boredom can also have the opposite effect, causing you to sleep too much. This isn’t the kind of quality sleep that has you springing out of bed in the morning feeling alert and refreshed. In fact, you might find that no matter how much sleep you get, you still don’t feel completely rested.
Addressing your boredom will help restore healthy sleep patterns. You’re far more likely to experience quality sleep when your head is hitting the pillow after an active, productive day where both your body and mind were engaged.
5. Boredom makes it easy to overeat.
You feel bored, so you head to the kitchen and look for something to snack on. You start eating, and before you know it, 20 minutes have passed and you've emptied the bag of potato chips. Sound familiar?
Boredom leads to overeating in two ways. There's the practical aspect: eating gives you something to do that’s both easy and pleasurable. Then there’s the emotional aspect: turning to food for comfort to ease the unpleasant, empty feeling associated with boredom. Of course, the comfort only lasts for long as you’re actually eating, making it extremely easy and tempting to overeat.
If you find yourself overeating due to boredom, you don't want to start beating yourself up over it.
You do, however, want to face the situation head on, before it spirals out of control. If boredom is the only issue, consider how you can use your time in other ways that are both enjoyable and constructive. If there are other issues involved, take care of yourself by seeking out the support and resources you need to help you get on top of things.
6. Boredom takes a toll on your relationships.
It’s hard to bring your best to relationships when you’re being dragged down by an ongoing sense of boredom. As you interact with others, there may be a sense you’re just going through the motions and something is missing. Trying to cover up or hide your true inner state becomes draining after a while.
Alternatively, ongoing boredom may lead you to withdraw from relationships, because you feel self-conscious about how you’re doing and the state you’re in. This ties in with the issue of your confidence taking a hit due to boredom.
When you deal with boredom and your interest is reignited once again, your inner state will change. This will be apparent in overt and subtle ways, and the people around you will pick up on it and be drawn to it.
7. Boredom leads to depression.
Did you notice how all the effects of boredom previously mentioned overlap with the symptoms of depression?
If you’re dwelling on the past, your confidence is down, you’re not sleeping well, and your relationships are being impacted, all of that can come together in a perfect (albeit undesirable) storm that leads to depression. For those who were already suffering from depression, boredom and its many by-products can exacerbate the condition.
If boredom is the cause of your depression (or a key contributor to it), it’s important that you address it. Being genuinely engaged and excited about what you have going on in your life will go a long way towards improving your mental and emotional health, and will help keep depression at bay.
Image credits: alyoshine from Pixabay
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