In this article, I am going to look at boredom in general and identify what the chronic boredom symptoms are and how boredom can affect our health. As we age, and especially when we retire, boredom can become a very real thing to deal with.
What Is Chronic Boredom?
Medical experts call boredom the ‘disease of our time.’ It’s not just for children anymore. Everyone suffers from it. What used to be something you temporarily went through until your lecture was over or it’s finally your turn at the doctor’s office has now become a disease. That’s how serious it is, unfortunately.
Maybe the main reason why chronic boredom is now a chronic disease with chronic boredom symptoms is due to the endless array of stimuli that bombard our every waking moment, making it difficult to concentrate on any given topic.
We’ve been programmed that we wake up and expect to have information thrown at us, and we know we’re supposed to sit there and take it. We’ve stopped interacting and engaging. Consequently, we get bored.
Boredom is both annoying and frustrating. And it may even get to the point when you feel like you’re slowly suffocating. As defined by the German psychologist, Theodor Lipps, boredom “is a feeling of unpleasant arising out of a conflict between a need for intense mental activity and lack of incitement to it, or inability to be incited.”
Incitement can mean different things to different people. An introvert, for example, would find pleasure between the pages of a book or any other type of solitary activity. On the other hand, an extrovert may seek more thrilling activities as well as more social encounters.
But no matter what your personality type is, there’s a direct correlation between boredom and self-awareness. When you have a clear idea of your strengths, weaknesses, motivations, and beliefs, and are comfortable in your own skin, you’re better prepared with the tools required to make yourself less bored. You can gauge your moods and feelings, and understand what it is you really want out of life. It also better prepares you to deal with others, and respond accordingly.
But having a clear understanding of your personality can be a real problem in this day and age with the world at our fingertips 24/7. The idea that we turn off the noise for a few seconds to ourselves, to just close our eyes and be at peace, is now a foreign concept.
No one wants to sit there and do nothing! That’s why full-grown adults are transfixed on playing games or browsing through their social media every free millisecond. Downtime can be scary.
But it’s in those moments where we really feel our presence, tune in to our thoughts, and get in touch with our feelings. It’s also when we are at our most imaginative and creative. It’s how we evolve, discover and invent.
Chronic Boredom Symptoms
In 1986, psychologists came up with a test to measure how prone to boredom a person is. The 28 questions below are basically symptoms of boredom if you rate yourself above a four for each of the statements.
The Boredom Proneness Scale (BPS) is a set of statements that people are asked to rate their agreement with on a 7-point scale, from 1 (highly disagree) to 4 (neutral) to 7 (highly agree.)
People who ranked low on this scale tended to perform better in school and in their careers. They tended to be self-starters.
On the other hand, people who ranked higher on the scale experienced chronic boredom, which can be a symptom of clinical depression. Some scientists have also stated that boredom is a form of “learned helplessness,” in which a person comes to believe that life is unpleasant (whether it really is or not), that the unpleasantness is inescapable and must be endured (whether it really is or not).
Researchers have also found that some people have chemical imbalances in their bodies that put them at higher risk for depression, anxiety, addiction, eating disorders, hostility, and learning disabilities.
Here is the test that psychologists give people to see who may be dealing with chronic boredom.
The statements below can be answered using a 7-point scale — from 1 (highly disagree) to 4 (neutral), to 7 (highly agree). To take this test, number a piece of paper from 1 to 28. Then write down any number from 1 to 7 for each of the statements below.
- It is easy for me to concentrate on my activities.
- Frequently when I am working I find myself worrying about other things.
- Time always seems to be passing slowly.
- I often find myself at “loose ends”, not knowing what to do.
- I am often trapped in situations where I have to do meaningless things.
- Having to look at someone’s home movies or travel slides bores me tremendously.
- I never have many projects in mind or things to do.
- I find it easy to entertain myself.
- Many things I have to do are repetitive and monotonous.
- It takes more stimulation to get me going than most people.
- I get a kick out of most things I do.
- I am seldom excited about my work.
- In any situation, I can usually find something to do or see to keep me interested.
- Much of the time I just sit around doing nothing.
- I am good at waiting patiently.
- I often find myself with nothing to do, time on my hands.
- In situations where I have to wait, such as inline, I get very restless.
- I often wake up with a new idea.
- It would be very hard for me to find a job that is exciting enough.
- I would like more challenging things to do in life.
- I feel that I am working below my abilities most of the time.
- Many people would say that I am a creative or imaginative person.
- I have so many interests, I don’t have time to do everything.
- Among my friends, I am the one who keeps doing something the longest.
- Unless I am doing something exciting, even dangerous, I feel half-dead and dull.
- It takes a lot of change and variety to keep me really happy.
- It seems that the same things are on television or the movies all the time; it’s getting old.
- When I was young, I was often in monotonous and tiresome situations.
To score yourself, add up the total of the values you gave each for each question. The average score is 99, and the average range 81-117. If you scored above 117, you get bored easily, and if you scored below 81, you don’t suffer from boredom very often.
The highest score possible is 196, which you would get if you gave a score of 7 (highly agree) to all 28 of the statements.
5 Really Bad Consequences of Chronic Boredom
Suffering from chronic boredom can make it easy to fall into a rut of negative habits, resulting in powerlessness to finish tasks.
This puts a damper on the quality of your life and exacerbates physical pain. It comes with a slew of negative ramifications, the 5 most common are:
If you find yourself constantly snacking even though you’re not hungry, then the culprit is probably boredom.
Eating, especially foods high in processed fats and sugars, makes you feel calmer and happier. Dieticians refer to this as emotional eating, which is often brought on by boredom.
Boredom can be a symptom of depression, and it can also trigger it.
Working long hours, having a stressful work or home environment, or working dull, unchallenging jobs can all boost stress and result in deep bouts of depression.
Alcohol And Drug Abuse
In an attempt to break through the boredom spells, it’s common to find people reaching for alcohol and drugs.
They’re known for their addictive nature, but at the moment, all people really see is how they allow them to forget the aggravating effects boredom has on their lives.
Stress And Anxiety
Living day to day in an environment that doesn’t give you what need can be emotionally exhausting.
Load on top of that work responsibilities and financial strain, and you’ve got the perfect recipe for chronic stress triggered by boredom and redundancy.
When boredom strikes regularly, your brain releases toxic hormones into your bloodstream.
These hormones create problems for your heart. Moreover, those who suffer from chronic boredom tend to skimp out on exercising and eating right. In fact, they’re more likely to turn to bad habits, like smoking and drinking – all of which can take its toll on the cardiovascular system, resulting in premature death.
How To Break Free Of Chronic Boredom Syndrome
A great way to break the boredom cycle is to step back and look at the big picture. Make lists of all the good in your life, as well as all the things you’ve wanted to try but never found the time and start from there.
Take control of your life and try to work your way around the things you cannot change. Form new, healthier habits. Try something different each day. Volunteer your time to helping others who are in need. And, most importantly, find something that piques your interest.
Find a hobby or something creative that you can do, something you will find addictive and feel excited to do. I have a few hobbies I love and get really excited if I have a few spare hours in my week to attend to them.