When was the last time you felt bored? Actually, let me rephrase that: When was the last time you were bored and didn’t feel guilty about it, like you should be doing something "more productive" with your time? Better yet, have you ever just let yourself feel bored and fought the urge to pick up your phone to kill the time? The reason I’m interrogating you, my friend, is because there are actually some legit benefits of boredom, and honestly, they’ll probably make you want to do a whole of nothing way more often.
The thing is, boredom used to be kind of normal. It’s a good thing, after all, to be present and content with the simplicity of nothingness. But as Doreen Dodgen-Magee, Psy.D., a psychologist who specializes in healthy living in the digital era, writes in her new book Deviced! Balancing Life and Technology in a Digital World, technology has essentially made boredom a thing of the past. "Waiting on line at the grocery store? Hit Facebook," she tells Elite Daily in an email as an example. "Lying on the beach? Snap a selfie and post it to Instagram. Waiting for your coffee to brew? That’s a good time to squeeze in a few minutes of video game play." Pretty relatable, right?
According to Dodgen-Magee, feeling bored isn’t really part of a typical person’s everyday life anymore, and while this may seem like a good thing, the psychologist says that boredom is important, as it offers space to explore, and it encourages you to really get in touch with yourself. "When we are free from stimulation that distracts us, we are brought to the end of our hiding and into new spaces of exploration," Dodgen-Magee explains. "When we have nothing to look at, listen to, or engage with, we are given the opportunity to see what we ourselves are made of, and unoccupied time can spark creativity and insight."
This is just a taste of what boredom can really do for you and your well-being. Here are a few other benefits of being bored from time to time.
Boredom Can Teach You A Lot
Feeling bored doesn’t just give you an opportunity to zone out and daydream for a little while. According to Dodgen-Magee, boredom requires a sense of tolerance in a lot of ways, and when you can handle having literally nothing to do or think about, that ability "has the power to reduce our anxiety regarding missing out, as well as the power to develop our capacity to value ourselves for who we are rather than for simply what we do," the psychologist explains. In other words, being bored teaches you how to feel OK with a lack of stimulation, rather than anxious about whatever it is you aren’t doing.
It makes sense, right? For instance, if you’re not watching all of your friends’ Snapchat stories on the reg, then you probably won’t feel like you’re missing out on life just because you’re taking some time to yourself for relaxation. Bye, FOMO.
Boredom Also Gives You More Time
According to David Barbour, co-founder of the wellness company Vivio Life Sciences, boredom means you have time, and once you realize this, then you can actually do something with that time — something other than, you know, a round of Candy Crush.
"This can lead to great life developments," Barbour tells Elite Daily over email. "The benefit of boredom is the recognition of boredom whenever that comes to you, and the motivation that you can derive from [that], if you choose to."
In other words, think of boredom as free time — time that you can spend in literally any way you want, whether it’s on creative projects, on reading a new book you’ve been meaning to check out, or even on simply breathing and being in the present moment.
Boredom Can Spark Your Imagination
Being bored means letting the imagination run wild, says Kayla O’Neill, a former developmental therapist and founder of the website Parenting Expert to Mom. "Parents oftentimes think it is their job to entertain their children so they do not become bored," she tells Elite Daily over email. "However, parents should be doing the opposite."
Remember building forts out of sheets? Or playing with your imaginary friends? These are all things you did when you were "bored" as a kid, but according to O’Neill, it’s important to maintain this part of yourself in your adult life, to help "spark curiosity and learning." After all, just because you’re an adult doesn’t mean you’ve stopped learning, right?
Boredom Can Help You Process Complicated Emotions
As much as boredom is about letting go of that feeling like you "should" be doing something, Katie Leikam, LCSW, LISW-CP, therapist and owner of the group practice True You Southeast, says it’s also about taking control, in the sense that it’s up to you to come up with solutions and ideas for what to do with your time.
Downtime, Leikam tells Elite Daily in an email, can present a wonderful opportunity to stop, take a step back, and process your emotions — yes, even when you don’t want to, and even when those feelings scare the crap out of you. Boredom teaches you to feel comfortable and confident addressing these emotions, Leikam explains, and if you ask me, that’s a skill that’s definitely worth learning.
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