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New study sheds light on issue of coping with boredom

We’ve all had our share of experiences with boredom, whether we encounter it while completing a monotonous activity at work or attending a get-together that we don’t really want to go to. While boredom may seem like an innocuous feeling, it can strike with such a strong force sometimes that we are left feeling completely miserable. This is probably why people who experience boredom more frequently are also thought to be more prone to certain mental illnesses such as anxiety and depression. A recent study however suggests that it may be possible to learn how to cope with boredom which can ultimately help ward off some mental health issues.

The Washington State University study recently published in Psychophysiology examined changes that take place in people’s brains when they are experiencing boredom. Researchers first asked participants to complete a survey with a number of questions on how they usually respond to boredom. Subsequently, participants were then subjected to a “boring” task while researchers monitored any changes in brain waves. The researchers found that those individuals who experienced boredom more often according to the surveys manifested more right frontal activity during the experiment, indicating that they were experiencing distressing emotions. On the other hand, those who indicated using positive methods of dealing with boredom on the surveys showed more left frontal activity, which increases when one is trying to find ways to engage themselves.

According to the researchers, this study may be helpful in devising ways of coping with boredom, such as finding a secondary or background activity (such as listening to music) to engage oneself in while performing a tedious, repetitive task or looking for something more interesting to do. Being able to better deal with or stave off the feeling of boredom when it first arises can be a critical skill to have in one’s repertoire as it can ultimately aid in improving our mental health.


Weybright, S. (2019). Looking at how the brain reacts to boredom could help people. Retrieved from

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