Blog post written by,
Ara Mascarenas, M.S - Registered Intern for Mental health Counselor Licensure
We are part of a society that values the hustle, being busy, and having a full schedule. We take pride in being overachievers and working ourselves to exhaustion. And even when we have a few minutes to spare, our first instinct is to grab the small little technology box to entertain us.
Globally, 62.5% of the totals world’s population uses the Internet and 4.62 billion people around the world use social media (Kemp S., 2022). More specifically, in the United States people spend approximately 6 hours and 58 minutes on their phones (Howarth, J. 2023). People use their phones for a variety of reasons. On one hand, technology can be used to connect with others, check in with loved ones, and interact with peers. However, sometimes technology is used as a way to avoid feelings of boredom, distract us from what is going on, and not face difficult emotions. As psychologist Sandi Mann puts it “Our cultural attachment to our phones is paradoxically both destroying our ability to be bored and preventing us from ever being truly entertained” (Ducharme, J, 2019).
In children, research shows that “boredom fosters creativity, self-esteem, and original thinking” (Child Mind Institute, 2023). Additionally, psychologist Dr. Lee shared that when a child is bored, they are able to develop independence and realize they have some control over their well-being (Child Mind Institute, 2023). Children may feel a little bit anxious about not having anything to do for an extended period of time. To help this, parents can provide a list of activities for children or teens to do. For example, children can go on a nature hunt, complete puzzles, and create a craft. For teens, it could be playing sports, creating a creative project like a podcast or painting, or engaging with nature.
Adults also benefit from moments of boredom and doing nothing. In fact, neuroscientist Alicia Walf stated that “being bored is critical for brain health and improves social connections” (Ducharme, J., 2019). Much like in children, being bored can nurture creativity, foster ingenuity, and give space for the brain to rest. By providing times of silence adult brains are able to process ideas, hear new thoughts, and gain insight.
How to master boredom? Simply put, boredom is not having any external input. For example, listening to a podcast, doing yoga, or phoning a friend may be relaxing but not necessarily boring. Exploring boredom may look like sitting somewhere without distractions, taking a walk on a familiar path, allowing your mind to wander, and unplugging from technology. In other words, as Elizabeth Gilbert writes in Eat Pray Love “La dolce Far Niente” - the sweetness of doing nothing. What idea or new project will your doing nothing give light to?
Ara Mascarenas, M.S
I am interested in working with children, adolescents, and their families. I am good at establishing a positive therapeutic relationship with clients who are currently struggling with anxiety, depression, and behavioral issues. For more information about working with me and to get a FREE 30-minute phone consult, please call at 954.850.6633 or email me at email@example.com.
Services available in English/Spanish and Online.
Ducharme, J. (2019, January 4). Being bored can be good for you-if you do it right. here's how. Time. Retrieved April 17, 2023, from https://time.com/5480002/benefits-of-boredom/
Kemp, S. (2022, May 4). Digital 2022: Global Overview Report - DataReportal – Global Digital Insights. DataReportal. Retrieved April 17, 2023, from https://datareportal.com/reports/digital-2022-global-overview-report
Howarth, J. (2023, January 13). Alarming average screen time statistics (2023). Exploding Topics. Retrieved April 17, 2023, from https://explodingtopics.com/blog/screen-time-stats
The benefits of boredom. Child Mind Institute. (2023, April 14). Retrieved April 17, 2023, from https://childmind.org/article/the-benefits-of-boredom.