9 Anything But Dull Facts on Boredom

Everyone at one time or another has found themselves in that unpleasant state of mind known as boredom. Young, old, male, female–boredom affects us all. Across all cultures and spanning the spectrum of every socio-economic status from homeless to wealthy. Each and every one of us, at one time or another, suffers from boredom.

Wikipedia defines boredom as an “emotional or psychological state experienced by an individual when they are left without anything in particular to do, is not interested in his or her surroundings, or feels that a day or period is dull or tedious”. Boredom is most often thought of in negative terms, however it can also be a catalyst for self-reflection and change. Let’s take a closer look at the five types of boredom and the consequences of boredom…


1. Indifferent Boredom

People who suffer from this form of boredom are usually calm and relaxed but withdrawn from their external world. They are indifferent.

The indifferent outlook of this type of boredom causes a couldn’t care less attitude either way. Folks who experience it don’t find their current emotional state to be either pleasant or unpleasant. It just is.


2. Calibrating Boredom

People who suffer from calibrating boredom find their emotional state to be mildly uncomfortable. These people tend to have wandering thoughts and a general sense of feeling lost or not knowing what to do with themselves.

Folks who are prone to calibrating type boredom are open to boredom reducing strategies and ideas, but aren’t actively searching for them.


3. Searching Boredom

People who suffer from searching boredom describe their emotional state as unpleasant. As a result they become restless and actively searching for ways to relieve their feelings of boredom.

If they are successful their boredom will be relieved. If not they may progress to the next stage of boredom, which is…


4. Reactant Boredom

People who suffer from reactive boredom exhibit the highest levels of arousal and discomfort from negative emotions. These people have a strong desire to escape their boring situation and state of mind.

They tend to be agitated and have overwhelming thoughts about more highly valued alternate activities or situations.


5. Apathetic Boredom

Unlike the other types of boredom, those who suffer from apathetic boredom tend to have much lower levels of arousal. A feeling of helplessness and even depression can be symptomatic of this type of boredom.

Boredom and depression have been associated with destructive behaviors and negative outcomes. One study of high school students have found that 35-percent of those surveyed appeared to suffer from apathetic boredom.


6. Understimulated People

People who are constantly looking for new experiences and things to do are prone to boredom. They have a naturally impulsive mindset and crave variety and excitement. When they become bored they may venture into thrill seeking adventures or dangerous activities.

According to research published by the National Institutes of Health, researchers in South Africa found that boredom was the most significant predictor of alcohol, cigarette and drug abuse in teenagers.

Alcohol and Drugs

7. Boredom as a Safety Net

The second types of people prone to boredom are those with avoidant personality traits. To them the world is a scary place. They stay in their comfort zone, afraid to try anything new or out of the ordinary.

The result can be dissatisfaction and chronic boredom. The tedium they experience may eventually push them towards self-destructive behaviors.


8. Boredom Can Affect Life Expectancy

The Whitehall 2 study, conducted in the UK, examined the lives of civil servants between the ages of 35- to 55-years-old, consisting of one third women and two thirds men.  They found that those subjects who suffered from boredom had a 30-percent increased likelihood of dying within the next three years.

Boredom has been associated with inactivity, poor eating habits, smoking, addiction, and depression. These factors are negatively correlated with adverse cardiovascular health, obesity, high cholesterol, high blood pressure, digestive problems, and even cancer.


9. Boredom Can Stimulate Creativity

On the upside, boredom can be the catalyst for creativity and innovation. It can stimulate you to search for new ideas or approaches to a problem. In searching for a way to relieve boredom we can find unique solutions or innovative ways of doing things.

Tedium encourages your thoughts to wander, which in turn can lead to more associative ways of thinking. It allows for great leaps in our imaginations to places we may not otherwise have ventured.




Debbie McGauran

Debbie has been a registered nurse for over 25 years with experience in geriatrics, medicine, surgery and mental health. For the past four years, she has practiced as a crisis nurse in the ER. Debbie lives on a farm with her family, two dogs, a cat, and four horses.