The way Ms. Brewer describes boredom is actually very close to how boredom researchers – yes, there are boredom researchers – defined emotion. “Feeling unchallenged” and perceiving one’s “activities as meaningless” is at the heart of boredom, ”according to a study by Wijnand Van Tilburg, an experimental social psychologist at the University of Essex in England.
Or, as Leo Tolstoy said, boredom is “the desire for desires.”
“The bored person really wants to do something, but doesn’t want to do anything in particular,” said John D. Eastwood, associate professor of clinical psychology at York University in Toronto and co-author of “Out of My”. Skull: the psychology of boredom. Boredom is distinct from apathy because if you’re listless you don’t want to do anything at all – but if you’re bored you’re both restless and lethargic, Dr Eastwood said.
Even in normal times, boredom is a very common emotion – a study of nearly 4,000 American adults found that 63% felt bored at least once in every 10-day sampling period. While most cases of boredom are mild, chronic boredom can metastasize into depression, poor health behavior like drug use or risky behavior, said Dr Van Tilburg. There are many causes of boredom, but lack of control over your situation is common. He added, “There is research that shows you are limited in your control of the situation – it intensifies the boredom.”
Parents of very young children may find our pandemic situation particularly overwhelming because it is both repetitive and unintentional – we have no choice but to maintain the routines of our little ones, who cannot get things done by them. themselves. Emily Lyn-Sue, a stay-at-home mom of two in Miami, said that while her husband and older son have outlets outside the home for work and school, she feels isolated and bored at home with her 3 year old child. “We speak an entirely different language that no one else understands. We’re literally alone on an island, together – he’s my Wilson and I’m his Tom Hanks, ”she said, referring to the relationship Hanks’ character develops with a volleyball in a shipwreck. in the movie “Cast Away”.
Knowing that many of us may not be able to have much control over our movements for at least the next few months, how do we try to alleviate our boredom? First, the researchers I spoke to said it was important to recognize that there was no easy fix to our slump – much of what is happening right now is beyond our control and vaccines are just starting to be tested in children under 12, so we may not yet be able to make big moves.