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"Bored to death? It really could happen..." Nature gives life, shouldn't life aspire to / be inspired by Nature?


By WcP.Life.Coach - Posted on 25 May 2012

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Science Shows You Can Die of Boredom, Literally
Monthly magazines from Reader's Digest to Cosmopolitan are inundated with tips on how to sleep better, find happiness, and weave seriously sexy hair. Taking nothing away from being happy and blowing your romantic partner's mind on valentine's day, there are few things as valuable as staying alive...Try to withhold your skepticism for a moment as I share a brand new scientific discovery:

The more bored you are, the more likely you are to die prematurely

Over 7,500 London civil servants aged between 35 and 55 were interviewed in the late 1980's. Among other questions, they were asked if they felt bored at work during the past month. These same people were tracked down to find out who died by April 2009. What the researchers found was that civil servants who reported being very bored were 2.5 times more likely to die of a heart problem than those who hadn't reported being bored. You might be asking yourself, what the %$#@ does this mean? To put this into perspective, consider this fact by the American Heart Association: Smokers are two to four times likely to develop coronary heart disease than nonsmokers. People with a molotov cocktail of obesity, high blood pressure, and high blood sugar (that is, all three at once) are twice as likely to have a heart attack and three times more likely to die earlier than the rest of the population. This means that death by boredom is right up there with the favorite targets of media fear mongering, public policy, and pharmaceutical companies. Nobody is talking about boredom while people whine and die quietly at workplaces around the world.

Of course, there are some serious problems with this conclusion. Boredom might not be the direct culprit. Someone who is bored is unlikely to be motivated to maintain a healthy lifestyle. Perhaps bored people are more likely to subsist on microwave dinners and Chef Boyardee Beefaroni. Perhaps they are less likely to put in the effort and commitment to physical exercise. Perhaps they are more likely to vegetate on their coach, smoking cannabis, and watching reruns of Three's Company. Perhaps people are bored because they are incredibly stressed out. Bored people are less invested in learning, challenging themselves, and growing. In turn, the natural brain degeneration that occurs as we age is likely to speed up. This is because as we attend to novelty, manage novelty, and extract rewards from novel and challenging situations, we build and strengthen existing neuron connections in our brain. Being curious and exploring our world has been shown to be a protective factor against degenerative brain diseases (Alzheimer's disease, Parkinson's disease). Curiosity helps our brains stay young. People that are chronically bored lack curiosity.

If boredom kills, then cultivating curiosity heals.

To find out about these life saving tips, read Curious? Discover the Missing Ingredient to a Fulfilling Life. Dr. Todd B. Kashdan is a clinical psychologist and professor of psychology at George Mason University.

Bored to death? It really could happen
...experts say there's a possibility that the more bored you are, the more likely you are to die early... if people's boredom was ultimately linked to depression, it wouldn't be surprising if they were more susceptible to heart attacks... possible that when people are bored, dangerous hormones are released in the body that stress the heart... boredom is linked to anger suppression, which can raise blood pressure and suppress the body's natural immunity. "People who are bored also tend to eat and drink more, and they're probably not eating carrots and celery sticks."

Can you die of boredom?
Boredom is like an emotional oxymoron. Your mind itches for something to do, but your body doesn't respond.

This universal human experience ranks at the bottom of our list of desirable emotions, and while boredom springs from various sources, people report almost uniform sensations of lazy restlessness [source: Martin et al]. But what happens when that flat-lined feeling doesn't go away? Can you -- as the saying beloved to angst-ridden teenagers goes -- really die of boredom?

­­Run-of-the-mill boredom alone won't kill you. But, in a roundabout way, it can pose problems for adolescents. Today's teenagers in particular may be susceptible to boredom from a combination of overstimulation and lack of coping skills when action dies down [source: drugs and alcohol.]

Some adults, however, don't grow out of typical teenage boredom. Certain personalities that gravitate toward high-risk lifestyles also experience chronic boredom. While the relationship between the two isn't completely understood by science, it can spiral into danger. In fact, boredom-prone people are more likely to engage in activities including alcohol abuse, drug addiction, compulsive gambling and eating disorders [source: Gosline].

This type of endless ennui also happens more to men and people with brain injuries and certain psychotic disorders. For drug addicts, fighting boredom can predict their success in kicking their habit as well.

­­In cases like these, boredom simultaneously serves as a symptom and a stimulant for adverse behavior. People may not have the coping mechanisms and ability to put circumstances in perspective to overcome boredom, leading to continuous dissatisfaction [source: Todman].

What is boredom?
Although references to the idea of boredom stretch back to the Greek philosophers, the word did not enter the written English language until 1766. Afterward, literature exploded with musing on it, including works by Kierkegaard, Dostoyevsky and Tolstoy, who called boredom "the desire for desires." [source: Martin et al].

Everyone knows what boredom feels like, but even after hundreds of years of identifying boredom as a plague upon life, no scientific consensus exists of what exactly it is [source: Martin et al]. One reason lies in rooting out the source of boredom, akin to the clichéd "chicken or the egg" question. As mentioned earlier, boredom can arise from both external and internal stimuli, muddying the answer to that question.

Scientists do know something about brain activity in high-risk, boredom-prone people. When we experience joy and excitement in a new situation, a chemical messenger, or neurotransmitter, called dopamine, triggers that response in our brains. It appears that high-risk, boredom-prone people may have naturally lower levels of dopamine, meaning that they require a heightened sense of novelty to stimulate their brains [source: Schneider et al]. In this light, boredom may serve as the lackluster yin to our yang of excitement and pleasure.

Although the part of our brain controlling the boredom response remains unclear, patients with damage to their frontal cortex experience greater risk-taking urges along with boredom proneness [source: Gosline]. Interestingly, the frontal cortex also controls our perception of time, which could be linked to the sensation of time passing more slowly when we're bored [source: Gosline].

How can we combat this elusive pest? A study found that people who reported feelings of boredom more frequently tried to alleviate it with brief distractions including work breaks or doing laundry. But these boredom Band-Aids soon failed [source: Martin et al]. On the other hand, people who meditated, engaged with other people or accepted the boredom were more successful.

­­Likewise, finding new interests or hobbies, physical exercise and mindfulness have all been shown to reduce boredom [source: Gosline]. One study of teenagers found that those with strong interests had significantly higher self-esteem and overall well-being than bored ones [source: Hunter and Csikszentmihalyi].

When searching for an activity, psychologists recommend finding an optimal amount of ease and challenge, called flow [source: Friedman]. In essence, flow means getting into a groove, like a runner's high or hitting a tennis ball back and forth. It demands more skill and agility than tedious tasks, but at a low enough intensity that you reap the mental reward of accomplishment.

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Image courtesy bebeonline.com.au

I just love the picture you added!
But, how about the breaks that you were talking about? "work breaks or doing laundry" indeed, those are the things that won't make you feel less bored, I would suggest getting a breath of fresh air or something that makes you concentrate a bit less, but still, the concentration must hang on there! We are the problem of our own boredom.

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