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Why Feeling Bored Is Important for Brain Stimulation

Author:NeuroGym Team

Being Bored Has Its Benefits

It sounds like it should be hard to be bored these days. We all have pieces of technology that can reach around the world and stream series and movies in an instant. We can constantly be in contact on social media where we are flooded by a stream of posts. The internet provides us with infinite content. We can get access to interesting information, exciting fiction, or even nondescript nonsense of a quirky nature. And yet we still find ourselves getting bored. Well it turns out, feeling bored can lead to brain stimulation!

Stimulating our brain keeps us mentally active. It’s important we expose ourselves to a variety of ideas and ways of thinking to keep ourselves sharp. That being said, we also need rest. Whether we’ve had a long day of physical, mental, or emotional activity, at some stage, we are going to need to take a break to recharge. This is when our brain can work magic!

Take the great minds of ancient Greece, for instance. They all had something in common: They all had time to think. They were privileged people who had an abundance of resources and help and who didn’t have to constantly work and fight for survival. And that gave them time. They had the luxury of being able to question and discuss big questions like why we all exist and what made us who we are. All because they had time to be bored!

Taking a break from being on the go does wonders for our mind! Let’s take a look at what being bored is and why it can help stimulate us.

What Is Boredom?

We certainly know we are bored when we feel it, but what is boredom? It’s basically what happens to us when our brain is finding it difficult to pass the time. We don’t tend to get bored when we’re in the middle of something that’s holding our attention. If we’re in the middle of reading something interesting (like a fascinating neuroscience blog) or watching something we’re invested in, we won’t get bored. It’s the same if we’re busy at work—we won’t feel bored. However, if we’re having a slow day and aren’t sure how to fill our time, we can start slipping into boring territory. The same idea applies if we’re in class and have an exciting lecturer who captivates us about a topic we love; we’ll be invested and won’t get bored! But if it’s a teacher who doesn’t exactly have much personality, we’ll find our minds drifting away. What we find boring is subjective, but we all deal with it.

It’s likely early humans never really got bored, as they were constantly on the go. When you think about it, they would have been hunting and gathering food, trying to find shelter, protecting themselves against predators, and generally fighting to survive. They had no time to be bored!

While boredom can be helpful, too much can be a bad thing. When we don’t have things to occupy our minds, we may struggle to stay mentally healthy. It’s easy to start worrying about things that could happen to us or our loved ones—even if those things are unlikely to happen—when we’re bored. Without realizing it, we can slip into feelings of anxiety with too much free time.

With all our distractions in the present day, we may actually be less prepared for feeling bored! So many of us spend hours scrolling through social media sites, we may not even notice those hours going by! Many of us automatically go to our phones at the first hint of a lack of excitement, whether it’s waiting in line at a coffee shop or waiting for the bus. So now when we actually feel bored, our minds may not be as equipped to handle it!

Benefits of Feeling Bored

Although it can be frustrating, a little bit of boredom can do you good! Our brains never turn off while we’re living. They don’t get to take weekends or holidays off. Even when we sleep our brains are active, hence why we dream. Our brains are the center of our nervous system and they’re constantly awake and looking for stimulation.

So even when we’re feeling bored, our brains are still working hard. And if we’re not occupied with something external, our brain can focus on itself. It turns out this is a great way to help our brains come up with new ideas.

Studies have been conducted which show that when someone feels bored, they can actually become more productive and start to generate ideas. Have you ever had a time where you had nothing to do, and then suddenly a question popped into your head? Maybe that’s how you find yourself reading blogs like this one; your brain is searching for something to do and becomes more awake.

When we’re bored, we start to daydream, and daydreaming is actually very helpful to us in many different ways, so it’s important that we let ourselves do it. When our mind starts to wander away and we aren’t focused on anything in particular, we start to think differently. As we daydream, we get very creative and start to use our imagination more. Have you ever had a eureka moment when you figured something out or thought of a great idea when you were doing something entirely unrelated? Well, that’s because your mind had the time to go for a walk and come up with something you couldn’t think of before.

In fact, a lot of great minds from the past, such as composer Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, inventor Thomas Edison, and Leonardo Da Vinci (who wore many hats as a scientist, artist, astronomer, and more), were believed to have had attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), which meant they struggled to pay attention. While ADHD has a lot of drawbacks and challenges, we can see how these brilliant people benefited from having wandering minds!

The Importance of Rest

We know by now that physical exercise is of great benefit to our mental, cognitive, and physical health. It has actually been proven that staying active throughout your day is good for your brain. Ironically, however, if we want to stay active, it’s vital that we rest as well.

Any type of exercise, whether it’s physical, mental, or emotional, requires a period of recovery. If we have been lifting weights and running, or have even taken a long walk, our body needs rest to allow us to rebuild our muscles and stamina. Similarly, if we have had an emotionally challenging day, and maybe we’re dealing with intense feelings like grief or anger, we need to take time to recharge our batteries. On top of that, if we have been mentally active all day trying to figure out different problems, our brains need to take five at some point just to cool down.

Resting helps us in so many ways. If we don’t take breaks, we can raise our blood pressure and do damage to our immune system making us feel run down. Having a rest will also boost our mood. See? There’s a reason we need to take breaks!

In the modern world, we are often expected to be on the go constantly. In fact, if we have a weekend of hanging out and taking it easy, we usually feel guilty come Monday morning, but it’s vital we take a breather. What is it they say on airplanes when doing the safety checks? Put your own oxygen mask on first. The reality is, we cannot look after anybody else unless we correctly look after ourselves.

Sleep Hygiene

A big part of resting well is getting enough sleep. It’s something so many of us struggle with in such a busy world full of constant stimuli. Here are some small things you can do to help yourself sleep better:

  • Stay away from caffeine late in the day, it will keep you awake!
  • Make sure you have had some kind of physical exercise during the day, but preferably not right before going to bed.

Brain Stimulation

  • Put down the phone! The blue light from screens keeps your brain active. Try reading a book or writing instead so you can wind down.
  • Consistency is really important, so try getting to bed and getting up at around the same time every day.
  • Don’t oversleep by taking naps during the day, this will make it harder to get good sleep later.

If you start implementing these tips and making them a habit, you’ll find it so much easier to sleep well.

Get Creative!

Admittedly, when we feel bored, we want solutions to our boredom. Thankfully, there are solutions in abundance on how we can get creative to stimulate our brains.

When you feel bored, try this: Get out a pen and paper, and just start writing. Whether it’s a bit about your day, a dream you had, something that’s been on your mind, get it on a page. This journaling will help you process things and come up with new ideas. It can also help us reflect on things we may have missed during the day, and we may just entertain ourselves.

And try to find your artistic side too! Get drawing or painting—you never know what you might come up with! As we have said, when our mind wanders, we start to come up with all kinds of ideas.

In Summary

Being bored can be a challenging feeling, but it’s one that’s necessary. Sometimes we need to be bored in order to wind down and give our brains a rest. Resting allows us to recover, but it’s not wasted time! Feeling bored can help our minds come up with interesting ideas we may have never considered otherwise. So don’t be afraid to stay idle for a bit and just take it easy!

About The Author

NeuroGym Team

NeuroGym Team: NeuroGym’s Team of experts consists of neuroscientists, researchers, and staff who are enthusiasts in their fields. The team is committed to making a difference in the lives of others by sharing the latest scientific findings to help you change your life by understanding and using the mindset, skill set and action set to change your brain.

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