Remember when we were kids and got bored, and we’d come up with games to play or pretend to be superheroes and save the day; sticks and brooms would become swords or horses and times of boredom transformed into times of creativity to cherish? Playing pretend came so easy to us, almost as if it were second nature. But in our current age, we don’t know how to be bored. Today, when met with boredom, our first instinct is to reach for our phones, not indulge in whimsy or sit in solitude with ourselves. We do not allow ourselves to be without an external stimulus, which negatively affects us mentally and physically.
Constant stimulus means our brain is never given an “off” period. Even if we’re not studying or interacting with others, scrolling through social media platforms, playing online games, watching movies, or listening to music, do not count as times of solitude free of stimulus. As such, we do not allow ourselves to be bored and exist in that boredom. Solitude, especially the kind that boredom provides, gives opportunities to think more deeply, gain a better understanding of ourselves, be aware of our body and mind, unwind and recharge, and think more creatively.
Creative thinking is an invaluable skill to have, and goes beyond artistic applications. As OER services explain, “Creative thinking is a way to develop novel or unorthodox solutions that do not depend wholly on past or current solutions.” These can be solutions to academic problems or life situations. Giving our minds time and space to wander in solitude is believed to be an essential part of generating new ideas.
In addition, being bored and having moments of solitude also leads to less stress. So, when you’re stuck on a paper or a chemistry problem, take a walk and come back to it later, because you’ll be able to think more clearly after the break. This can also lead to less stress; excessive stressing, as determined in numerous medical sources, can lead to headaches, upset stomach, elevated blood pressure, chest pains, and problems sleeping. In fact, getting better, longer periods of sleep are more achievable when relaxed. The body falls asleep quicker with little stimulus beforehand, which means allowing ourselves time off our phones to unwind before bed in order to achieve the benefits listed prior.
So, lean into boredom when it encroaches on you; that snap will be there later and so will those Instagram post. Life shouldn’t be a constant on-the-go thing where you must be connected at all times. There are benefits to existing in boredom and solitude that should be acknowledged and taken advantage of.