Most, if not all, of us have experienced moments of boredom – dull moments of inactivity or stimulation leave many people escaping in their thoughts, feeling angry or agitated, and more. Boredom has the propensity to lead us into negative behaviors just to fill the time. Overeating, for example, is a common behavior that many people experience because they don’t know what else to do. What other implications does boredom have?

A 2011 study found that boredom proneness, or the likelihood that someone can become bored due to perception of time, constraints, affective responses, focusing endurance and more, is related to a variety of problems. Results showed that the more susceptible a person was to boredom, the higher the chance they would experience anxiety, depression, and substance abuse, with a lower chance of experiencing mindfulness, which means to live in the present moment. Additionally, mindfulness was shown to be negatively associated with anxiety, depression, and substance abuse – so the more mindful a person is, the less likely they are to experience these issues. How does boredom impact these conditions?

Attention plays a key role in this; if a person chooses to focus on what they are not doing, they are less likely to be paying attention to what they are doing. In this situation, blame is often placed on the environment – as if it is outside of one’s control. Health Guidance states that those who suffer from chronic boredom often have fewer dopamine receptors in their brain – this is what triggers feelings of happiness and excitement, so it may take more for a person to feel engaged. Furthermore, previous studies have shown that people who claim being “bored” experience higher levels of brain activity in the areas of the brain responsible for thinking up hypothetical events and thinking of others. As you can see, this can easily get out of hand and lead to anxiety and depression.

The Scientific American further confirmed that boredom is one of the most frequent triggers of binge eating, as well as feelings of depression and anxiety. A 2003 study found that teenagers who said they were often bored were 50% more likely than their less frequently-bored peers to take up smoking, drinking and other drugs. Boredom opens a pathway for individuals to experiment and try new things to stimulate their senses; this is where substance abuse can dangerously come into play.

New Vista Behavioral Health is home to several world-renowned, California state-licensed mental health and substance abuse recovery treatment programs. If you or your loved one is ready to begin treatment, call us today at 888-316-3665 for a consultation.

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