Happy New Year! - How about a boring and uneventful one?
A strange request, I know, but after the tumultuous year we have just had, wouldn't a normal one sound good just about now? Those simple mundane tasks of grabbing lunch with a friend, going to a sports event, or going to the store, without any underlying concern over restrictions, health threats and/or causing offence?
For anyone with kids at home it has been an especially challenging time, whether through virtual learning or reduced options for things to do, the creativity of parents have been tested to the max.
However, this may well be the ideal time we return to an old style pastime, that is becoming tougher and tougher to do...being bored. There was a time when there limited TV channels, no internet and no cellphones. As a kid, if your friends weren't able to come out to play, your options ran quickly out and you became...bored.
You were then forced to use your creativity to read and write stories, play soldiers, draw pictures and, horror of horrors, just sit. The wellness campaign these days would call that meditating! Little did we know that being bored actually has many mental health benefits as listed by ‘Psychology Today’. Here's just a few:
- Boredom can improve our mental health. Our brains especially these days can be overloaded with data, so taking a break and simply stepping away can help our brains relax and alleviate stress.
- Boredom can increase creativity. There is power in the most mundane of tasks. Researchers found that with mundane tasks, we discover useful ideas and we use our imagination in different ways.
- Boredom motivates a search for novelty. Being dissatisfied with the status quo, novelty seeking keeps us intelligent, curious and looking for the next great thing.
- Boredom motivates the pursuit of new goals. Its sheds light on perhaps a situation that fails to meet our expectations and desires and makes us shift goals to more fulfilling ones.
- Boredom is directly linked to self control skills. In studies, kids that do poorly in school do so because they lack the cognitive resources to focus. Believe it or not, the ability to endure boredom at a young age is a great preparation for regulating one’s thoughts, emotions and actions.
So as we enter 2021, let’s hope and pray that it's a better one for so many that suffered in 2020, but also that the lessons learned give us all a chance to pause, reflect, reset and connect, whether with each other or ourselves.