I came home from University a week before Christmas to see my family and friends and to spend Christmas and New Year’s with them. Besides the festive events and parties that I’ve been going to I have felt incredibly unfulfilled and bored in the times between meeting people and this got me interested in what brings on boredom. It is one of the most common negative emotions we feel with 91 – 98% of youth experiencing boredom at some point in their daily lives.
Boredom has two interesting components to it; it can cause lack of interest and difficulty concentrating whilst also making you feel unfulfilled and incomplete. These two sides masterfully intertwine to create a cocktail of negative emotions. The lack of interest causes you to feel like you aren’t doing anything to make yourself feel fulfilled which causes difficulty in concentration which inhibits your ability to be interesting in anything and so makes you feel incomplete, and so it repeats. A fascinating study into child development known as Vygotsky’s Zone of Proximal Development showcases that for a person to learn they need to be challenged to the point of difficulty but not challenged so hard as to feel overwhelmed which causes anxiety, that zone between difficulty and lack thereof is also known as “being in the zone”. This ‘zone’ limits boredom and allows novelty and variety in your life.
Sleep is an important part of boredom. If you don’t do much in the day your body will be able to last until the small hours of the morning, warping your sleep pattern in such a way that it will be getting dark by the time you wake up. The rays from the sun are a natural biological indicator which tells your body when it should and shouldn’t be awake, when it dims, so do you. This may stop you from doing such things as exercise (either because of drowsiness or the desire to not go outside in the dark) or getting changed (because the dark has limited your likelihood of going outside) both continually outstretch how long you can stay up for (not getting dressed keeps you comfortable and limits exercise) which warps your sleep even more. Most long-lasting sloth-like characteristics such as slow-movement, sleepiness, and absence of interest derive from an originally very small dose of the exact same emotion, this is why there is both a motivational spiral up as well as a de-motivational spiral down.
Emotional awareness is also an important factor as an individual who is self-aware can articulate and describe their emotions very well, this helps them set targets. In my own life I truly believe having a plan and schedule on what to do on particular days can keep you from the depths of boredom. There should be an importance on creating and maintaining goals, these include mental, physical, and social. Improving mind (reading books and learning something new), improving body (eating healthy and regularly going to the gym), and improving personally (joining a charity, watching films or playing games, and talking with friends). Lack of any one of these three can cause anxiety, depression, and boredom.
The difficulty of this comes with short stints during week long holidays, not long enough to bother developing a schedule but not short enough for it to be devoid of boredom. I think irregular tasks can help in this regard. A stretch of non-productivity can be re-aligned by going on a daily walk, committing to read large portions of a book, and making a LinkedIn article on boredom are all examples of how someone might want to try to rejuggle their heads and fix their schedules. Having a form of ‘reshuffle’ to your life that is both interesting to you and generally useful allows you to keep to an original schedule. Being just a tiny bit productive will spike your motivation which can spiral to great heights.