Could You Really Be "Bored to Death"?
In a commentary to be published in the International Journal of Epidemiology in April 2010, experts say there's a possibility that the more bored you are, the more likely you are to die early.
Researchers from the Department of Epidemiology and Public Health at University College London analyzed over 7500 interviews, from 1985 to 1988, with British civil servants aged between 35 and 55 that asked whether they'd felt bored at work. They then tracked down how many of the participants had died by April 2009.
The researchers found that those participants who said they were very bored in the earlier interviews were two-and-a-half times more likely to have died of a heart condition than those who hadn't reported being bored.
Lead authors of the study, Annie Britton and Martin Shipley Briton, said boredom is probably not deadly in itself, but that early death could have been a result of those unhappy with their lives turning to such unhealthy habits as smoking, drinking, or taking drugs. In other words, those habits would cut their life expectancy. "The state of boredom is almost certainly a proxy for other risk factors," they wrote in their report. "It is likely that those who were bored were also in poor health."
While boredom alone may not kill you, it is important to consider the risky behaviors associated with boredom, which could contribute to an early death.
Signs to Watch for
- Taking drugs
- Not eating well
- Not exercising
7 Ways to Relieve Boredom
1. Pinpoint what gets you inspired. If you have a dull job, be sure to find outside interests to keep you enthused and motivated. What are your interests? Art? Reading? Writing? Sports? Pick one or two outlets to express yourself in and go have fun!
2. Step outside of yourself. Instead of getting trapped in always thinking about yourself, do something nice for friends, family, neighbors, colleagues, or even your boss. This will help lift your energy.
3. Express yourself. Boredom has been linked to anger suppression, which can raise blood pressure and suppress the body's natural immunity. If you feel angry about something, get out a journal and write about it (without censor). This can help you release the energy you need to as well as help you discover some of the underlying causes of the anger (which then makes it easier to release for good).
4. Get some exercise. This is one of the best ways to shake the boredom blues. When you exercise, you release endorphins, which help improve your mood and give you a motivated edge. Try walking, running, or bicycling at least three times a week for at least 30 minutes.
5. Eat healthy foods. Even if you get bored and pig out on doughnuts, don't let that stop you from eating fruits, vegetables and whole grains at your next meal. Running on a sugar diet can put you on a rollercoaster of highs and lows. Choose healthy foods for consistent energy and stable mood.
6. Practice yoga, tai chi, or meditation. Since stress has been linked with boredom, consider taking regular yoga, meditation, or tai chi classes. These will all help you live and breathe more deeply, allowing you to experience more of the wonders of your life.
7. Get involved with a volunteer group, or sign up for an activity you've always wanted to do. Being with positive, like-minded people can give you the inspiration and motivation you need to feel happy and alive.
Note: While everyone gets bored from time to time, if your boredom seems to be hanging around, make sure to contact to your doctor for an appointment.
Britton, A. and Shipley, M. "Bored to Death?" Department of Epidemiology and Public Health. University College, London, UK. International Journal of Epidemiology. 21 Dec. 2009. http://ije.oxfordjournals.org/. Web. 16 Mar. 2010.
"Can you be bored to death?" CBS News. 10 Feb. 2010. http://www.cbsnews.com/stories/2010/02/10/health/main6193554.shtml. Web 16 March 2010.
Petre, J. "You really can be bored to death, scientists discover." Daily Mail. http://www.dailymail.co.uk/sciencetech/article-1249073/You-really-bored-death-scientists-discover.html. Web. 16 Mar. 2010.
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