The old phrase “I’m so bored, I could die!” is considered an exaggeration for a reason. It’s very unlikely that you could die from having one boring day.
But while being bored once in a while won’t kill you, research has indicated that long-term boredom may increase your risk for a premature death.
But it’s not due to the boredom itself; it’s due to certain lifestyle choices or underlying health issues.
There are ways you can address boredom before it negatively affects your health. Read on to learn more about how fighting boredom can help you lead a healthier life and ways to overcome boredom.
Once thought of as a childhood exaggeration, researchers now know it may be possible to die from boredom. Here’s what the science says about being bored — and what you can do about it.
In general, boredom is more likely to occur in people with the following conditions. This is particularly true if these conditions are untreated:
- alexithymia (inability to describe and identify emotions)
- attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD)
- dementia, including Alzheimer’s disease
- high sensitivity
- traumatic brain injury
Increased health risks
Research over the last decade has shown that boredom alone won’t kill you.
However, long-term boredom may increase your risk for an early death. This is because boredom may increase stress hormones in the body, which can lead to a higher risk of cardiovascular disease.
One key 2010 study on boredom found that the following risk factors increased the likelihood of chronic boredom:
- overall poor health
- lower rate of regular physical activity
- being young
- being female
- a lower employment grade
- having Alzheimer’s disease
The link between boredom and premature death isn’t fully understood. Rather than a direct cause-and-effect, researchers believe that long-term boredom may lead to health issues that can then reduce your life span.
May be linked to unhealthy lifestyle choices
Boredom may also be linked to the following lifestyle choices:
- alcohol misuse
- substance use
- binge eating or mindless snacking
- eating unhealthy foods
May increase your risk for heart attack
Like stress, boredom may place undue pressure on your heart and circulatory system. This may increase your risk for a heart attack. You may also experience more illnesses due to a lack of immunity.
May lead to depression
Boredom also appears to have a strong link with depression. In some cases, constant boredom may lead to depression, but you may also be chronically bored from having this mental health condition.
Untreated depression is linked to an increased risk of heart disease.
Treating any health conditions you have as well as becoming invested in your health can also help you fight boredom.
One way to fight boredom is to stick with a daily routine.
While you don’t necessarily have to engage in the exact same activities each day, it’s helpful to block out specific times dedicated to work, exercise, chores, hobbies, and socializing.
Still, even with a routine in place, it’s possible to experience boredom from time to time.
If you find yourself bored from either a lack of stimulation or companionship, consider trying out the following activities whenever boredom arises:
- Read a new book or magazine.
- Do some journaling or scrapbooking.
- Engage in your favorite workout routine, or try something new, such as a dance class.
- Cook a new recipe.
- Join a club or try out a new hobby.
- Call or video chat with a friend or loved one.
- Look for volunteer opportunities or charity work in your community.
- Mindfully eat your meals.
- Adopt mindfulness practices, such as meditation.
- Get enough sleep every night so you have the energy to be active during the day.
Additionally, it’s important to communicate your boredom with a friend or loved one.
You can also address chronic boredom related to depression or anxiety with a mental health professional. Once you’ve identified boredom, you can become empowered to work through it.
Being bored once in a while isn’t harmful.
In fact, when considering children and teens who might be constantly entertained by technology, you might encourage them to work through occasional boredom. This can help them learn how to find creative solutions for entertaining themselves.
However, for many adults, long-term boredom can adversely affect health.
The effects of boredom may be especially more potent if you have certain untreated health conditions, like depression.
It’s also possible that having a mental health condition or chronic illness could increase your chances of experiencing boredom.
The best way to prevent boredom is to deal with it head-on. Staying socially active helps, along with engaging in hobbies, exercise, and other activities.
If you find that boredom is leaving you more vulnerable to feelings of depression, substance use, or feelings of self-harm, reach out to a mental health professional right away.