4 Surprising Brain Benefits of Being Bored

Being Bored

In eras past, the complaint “I’m bored” was a constant refrain from restless children. But nowadays, no one has to sit around without stimulation—and, it seems, many of us almost never do. Thanks to our handheld devices, we have 24-7 access to worlds of information and visuals that we can easily tote anywhere. Whenever a quiet second slips by, how many of us automatically grab our smartphones and start scrolling?

Prolonged or chronic boredom, of course, has been shown to have detrimental effects. The American Psychological Association (APA) reports that boredom has been linked to everything from earlier death to risky and impulsive behaviors like gambling, drug abuse, and overeating. In addition, boredom can present itself in different ways—lethargy, restlessness, or both—but in general it has been described as when someone “wants to be stimulated, but is unable, for whatever reason, to connect with his or her environment,” leading to an “unengaged mind” or “the unfulfilled desire for satisfying activity.”

Therefore, while too much boredom may not be a great state in which to languish, smaller doses can be beneficial. Boredom often gets a bad rap, but it’s actually been discovered in recent years to have many benefits. Let’s look at 4 key ways in which it can actually give you a feeling of boost, not bust.

The next time you find a lull in your day, like when waiting at the doctor’s office or in line at the store, resist the urge to pick up your device at the first opportunity. Let your mind wander instead. Click To Tweet


1. Being bored stimulates our curiosity.

Some scientists believe we are creating less-curious people in our tech-obsessed, overstimulated age—after all, with a search engine always at our fingertips, we have less and less need to sit around wondering about anything. A study published in a 2020 edition of Current Opinion in Behavioral Sciences noted that because “curiosity, like all drives, is adaptive, it has the perverse effect of weakening in response to high levels of prolonged stimulation.” Therefore, when people satisfy their curiosity too quickly and frequently, this drive is dulled over time. On the other hand, intentionally not fulfilling those curiosity drives will usually increase them, which is why the researchers expressed concern about our “modern deluge of attention-grabbing content.”

2. Boredom inspires more creative solutions.

In a 2019 issue of Academy of Management Discoveries, researchers presented a study examining the links between boredom, productivity, and creativity. While participants performed an idea-generation task, it was found that boredom could boost individual productivity, while not increasing negative responses like anger and frustration. Thus, the study concluded, boredom could be seen as beneficial, as it’s an emotion that encourages people to seek variety and novelty—in other words, “engaging in different, often unusual, ways of doing things that are unlike typical or predictable responses.” Another study has similarly stated that “boredom creates the conditions to start exploring…by sampling the environment in new and creative ways or put in other words, boredom begets creativity.” We can only imagine how many of our most life-changing modern-day inventions were born out of someone’s boredom.

3. Boredom works our self-control muscles.

The ability to prevent or withstand boredom may be associated with other benefits such as improved focus and heightened achievements. One study that looked at the links between boredom proneness, academics, and the abilities of self-control noted previous research findings that higher levels of self-control were correlated to “both lower levels of boredom proneness and greater academic success.” Self-control, defined as “the ability to bring our thoughts, feelings, and actions in line with our goals,” contrasts with boredom, which can entice people to distractions and lack of focus. Ultimately, students with higher levels of self-control had higher grade point averages and higher self-esteem, compared to those with lower levels; as the students’ propensity toward boredom increased, their GPA decreased.

4. Boredom inspires new pursuits.

Although the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) notes that some forms of boredom are troublesome—those marked by a numb or deadened feeling, designed to protect us from emotional pain, such as trauma—basic boredom can be a great thing. After all, sitting around with “nothing to do” can inspire all kinds of fun new hobbies and activities, from taking up sports to learning an instrument. Or it could inspire us to get outdoors for some fresh air or stimulating social engagements, which are more important than ever to prioritize post-pandemic. When boredom signals under-stimulation, NAMI notes, finding the best solution “can be a complex task that requires us to build self-awareness” and come to terms with any potential personal limitations, like anxiety or lack of focus. This process may then kick-start a rewarding journey of self-discovery and enrichment.


With this many upsides to being bored, it’s no wonder that so many creative minds and entrepreneurs alike admit they get their best ideas while in the shower or while out on a walk. Do you want to enjoy some of these benefits, too? Here are a few ideas on how to incorporate a little mental downtime into your day:

  • Call it an addiction, obsession, or a plain old waste of time, but our reliance on the internet can easily become a problem—and many of us don’t even notice how much we use our devices. The next time you find a lull in your day, like when waiting at the doctor’s office or in line at the store, resist the urge to pick up your device at the first opportunity. Let your mind wander instead.
  • Spend time in nature. Needless to say, your smartphone is not invited. Take some time out to breathe fresh air, enjoy the sunshine, watch the clouds, or get some physical activity with a nature walk. As a bonus, the APA reports that time in nature has many benefits: improved attention, lower stress, better mood, reduced risk of psychiatric disorders, and even increased levels of empathy and cooperation.
  • Practice mindfulness, yoga, or meditation. While these practices may require focusing on the breath or in-the-moment movement, they also take the pressure off, giving us a break from overworking or overstimulating the brain. Most people will find that their mind freely wanders during such practices, which is OK—and even beneficial.
  • Pick up new hobbies that don’t require much thinking, such as coloring, jigsaw puzzles, knitting, or gardening. These kinds of activities can boost your brain while also helping to alleviate stress.
  • Turn off the background noise. With televisions, smartphones, and radios blaring behind every last activity, from showers to household chores, it’s impossible to grab a moment of inner stillness. Try making an effort to cultivate more silence in your everyday environments, then sit back and enjoy the peace!

Anxiety, depression, and other mental health issues can’t wait. At Amen Clinics, we’re here for you. We offer in-clinic brain scanning and appointments, as well as mental telehealth, clinical evaluations, and therapy for adults, teens, children, and couples. Find out more by speaking to a specialist today at 888-288-9834 or visit our contact page here.


  1. excellent advice!

    Comment by douglas morris — May 24, 2023 @ 8:05 AM

  2. It is so wonderful NOT to have a cell phone and see all the people who cannot sit quietly waiting alone without having to constantly be bombarded with mindless pursuits on their phones. What a joy it is for my mind to wander, observing others and knowing at one point in time cell phones did not exist, and be assured my brain is being used productively!

    Comment by Mrs. Ferris S.Whitfield — May 26, 2023 @ 7:07 AM

  3. Boredom seems to shift into great projects, like putting a unique cat puzzle together with crazy shaped pieces and wild shapes and colors. Writing short stories from childhood memories and planting flowers on my deck. Then there’s eating too many snacks and chocolate, pacing around and talking out loud that myself. Helps to have a cat, friends, a great church and to sing and play the piano, Read. Make lists and check stuff off your to do lists.

    Comment by Sandra Northrop — May 26, 2023 @ 9:23 AM

  4. As an old retired guy, I often note that I feel lazy and begin to complain to myself yet the laziness is pleasant as it allows for peaceful reflection on not much in particular. Never felt the effect of being bored. I think I will now appreciate being lazy as giving myself permission to allow my mind to wander, notice the butterflies and bees in effortful business, leaves fluttering in a breeze. nice but not boring.

    Comment by Dr. Ted Spickler — May 26, 2023 @ 6:50 PM

  5. I'm bored !!!

    Comment by Mike Klenke — May 28, 2023 @ 3:05 AM

  6. I remember telling my kids to not complain about being bored because I always have work they could help with. If they were wanting company they could help me or they could solve the problem themselves. Work always ended with a treat or a game.

    Comment by Terri Gibson — May 28, 2023 @ 9:48 AM

  7. Very intesting article!

    Comment by Sharon Fate — June 15, 2023 @ 7:11 PM

  8. Thank you

    Comment by Sharon Fate — June 15, 2023 @ 7:13 PM

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