Under – Stress and Boredom

Maybe,at some time in your life you have had to fill a role that was boring, non-creative and maybe felt menial in nature.

After the honeymoon passed where you initially just loved turning up to work and doing ‘nothing’, you started to dread going to work. You had a reception role and almost nobody to receive in person, and the telephone was lucky to ring a few times in a week.

You felt your life and your talents were being wasted. And maybe you did need to move on from that position as your body, mind and soul were rebelling.

New evidence from neuroscience is showing us that under-stress and boredom may now also be game changers in supporting us in moving ahead in our lives.

This Weeks Video…

Healing Guided Meditation – The Well – Dr Judy Hinwood

Years ago, I was living in England and as well as my daytime teaching position I was also engaged to teach in various Evening Institutes in London as a second job. One of these evening roles was as a gym and games instructor for a Boys’ Brigade Group. Each Monday evening when I arrived at the Institute, the Superintendent would profusely apologise that the group would not be starting until the next week.

Being an extremely active physical education teacher at the time I was a little let down that I had to fill in two and a half hours until I could clock off. Yes, this was a case of under-stress. I quickly rationalised that the money I made each Monday night was going towards our planned adventure of buying a Landrover, fitting it out and driving it to South Africa the next year.

I turned the boredom into useful activity by first writing a letter to my folks in Australia, doing some more travel planning, and then curling up on a gym mat and sleeping until the caretaker would wake me up and tell me it was time to sign out and go home.

A fun aspect surrounding this boring role was that on one evening I was awoken from my deep sleep on the gym mat by the District Institute Inspector, who had come to apologise to me that the Boys’ Brigade Group had still not arrived. Why was this funny, because by now it was the fourth term? The Inspector praised me for being so diligent and always being early to arrive at my post and always going the distance. My being there meant the Institute received full funding and it was good for promotion for the Institute’s Principal and also the Inspector.

A great book I recently came across by a psychologist, Sandi Mann, The Upside of Downtime: Why Boredom Is Good has some interesting points around boredom. She said she wanted to know why we have this emotion of boredom, which seems like such a negative, pointless emotion.

While researching emotions in the workplace in the 1990s, she discovered the second most commonly suppressed emotion after anger was boredom. She commented…“It gets such bad press.”

Mann created numerous experiments which were absolutely, totally boring and found that the outcome was that people who are bored, often think more creatively than those who aren’t.

But what happens when you get bored that ignites our imagination? “When we’re bored, we’re searching for something to stimulate us that we can’t find in our immediate surroundings,” Mann explained. “So, we might try to find that stimulation by our minds wandering and going to someplace in our heads. That is what can stimulate creativity, because once you start daydreaming and allow your mind to wander, you start thinking beyond the conscious and into the subconscious. This process allows different connections to take place. It’s really awesome.”

Mann believes boredom is a gateway to mind-wandering, which helps our brains create those new connections that can solve anything from planning dinner to a breakthrough in combating global warming. Researchers have only recently begun to understand the phenomenon of mind-wandering, the activity our brains engage in when we’re doing something boring, or doing nothing at all. Most of the studies on the neuroscience of daydreaming have only been done within the past 10 years. With modern brain-imaging technology, discoveries are emerging every day about what our brains are doing not only when we are deeply engaged in an activity but also when we space out.

It turns out that in the default mode we’re still using about 95 percent of the energy we use when our brains are engaged in hardcore, focused thinking. Despite being in an inattentive state, our brains are still doing a remarkable amount of work.

When it came to brilliance, Steve Jobs was the master and he felt it was great to embrace boredom sometimes.

Mann’s advice is that you might feel uncomfortable, annoyed, or even angry at first, but who knows what you can accomplish once you get through the first phases of boredom and start triggering some of its amazing side effects?

 The Stress Management Institute® conducts training for those individuals who wish to become a qualified Stress Management Practitioner or Stress Management Facilitator and in 2018 we are launching a new short course, the Stress to Strength System Advocate. We invite you to embark on one of these exciting career courses for supporting people who are struggling to cope with stress. If you are looking for a career change, or you wish to add a Stress Management and Emotional Resilience specialty to your current career, please call us on +61 1 300 663 979 or email info@stressmanagementinstitute.org

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