Boredom has a way of creeping up on even the best worker. The images on the computer screen start running together and then distraction comes. You suddenly realize that you spent the last half hour aimlessly surfing the web and not doing your job, but you just cannot seem to focus on the task at hand.
Everyone gets bored once in a while. For some people, they experience that emotion more than others. Is your job just not exciting anymore? Or is it you?
Boredom in Research
A Canadian research team decided to research boredom in an effort to discover where this common experience stems from. They say most of the previous research has been intuitive and there is little to prove that boredom is as common as many feel.
Eastwood and his colleagues found that many believe that boredom is in direct relation to their environment. In other words, people tend to blame the boring lecture or the dull conversation as the root cause of boredom. People think if only the topic were a little more interesting, then they would not be experiencing boredom.
Boredom is in the Brain
Mark Fenske, co-author of the book, “The Winner’s Brain,” an associate professor of neuroscience and applied cognitive science at the University of Guelph states that people, “attribute [boredom] with problems in the environment rather than the problems with ourselves.” We seem to more readily associate boredom with external circumstances rather than internal ones.
Research shows that boredom may be a deeper issue than what is going on in the outside world. Both researchers found that people experience boredom when they have trouble paying attention to both external and internal stimuli. People need to connect to these stimuli to enjoy activities. When they cannot do this, they blame the environment or surroundings. Really, attacking boredom is about getting to know yourself.
Focus on the Internal
Linking the boredom problem to attention means, “we’ve already changed the focus,” says Fenske. This is an important link to the treatment of boredom because psychologists are trained on how to treat people with attention problems. This means, if someone is experiencing chronic boredom, they can be treated.
Typically, boredom is looked at as a minimal problem, but the effects can be far-reaching. Boredom can be “associated with pathological states,” says Fenske, and the connections to depression and traumatic brain injury are there. Drug addicts and alcoholics are also in a danger zone if they get bored, even facing a relapse.
A Bigger Problem
Eastwood thinks that some of the problems of boredom stem from the intense entertainment people experience on a daily basis. From the television to the computer, people have come to expect passive entertainment. Therefore, when people have to use their brains to come up with their own game plan or direction, the brain can drift off.
The boredom problem can pave the way to even greater issues with food, gambling, eating, infidelity, and more. “Chronic, protracted boredom is a problem in its own right,” says Eastwood. Finding ways to deal with attention issues can combat boredom.