Boredom may be good for you

Put your phone down. It’ll make you a better person.

When’s the last time you were bored? My guess is not since before you got a smartphone.

Remember the days of sitting in a waiting room and do nothing? Sitting in the car and gazing out the window? Riding an elevator and staring at the door? How about eating a meal and paying attention to the food, not the phone? Was it all that bad?

Researchers say no. It actually is good for the brain to be a little more bored and little less distracted. Boredom allows your brain time to relax, allowing for creativity, inspiration and even altruism (doing good deeds for others).

These types of acts restore a sense of purpose and meaning — a welcome change to the mindless time spent looking at meaningless (albeit funny) videos and reading friends’ statuses on social media — things that, in all honestly, can leave you feeling like you’re wasting your life away.

No doubt you’ve daydreamed and snapped out of it feeling refreshed and relaxed. Researchers say it’s the same concept with boredom. Your brain needs that downtime.

And for children especially, being bored helps develop an important part of the mind: the coping mechanism. When a child must cope with nothing to do, he has to figure out how to amuse himself without having a meltdown and how to sit still with his thoughts.

Putting down that device is also good for relationships, whether between parents and children or significant others. The other person is more likely to share what’s on their mind if they don’t have to compete with a device. That sharing and conversation (aka, communication) is the foundation of any successful relationship.

Boredom allows you to practice mindfulness — a state of being present. You’ll get more enjoyment out of eating mindfully and savoring your food, rather than mindlessly munching while scrolling through Twitter posts. It can even help you eat less.

Being present with your child or partner will strengthen your bond and improve happiness and enjoyment of your time. Other proven benefits of mindfulness include better sleep, more stable emotions, weight loss, lower stress and less depression.

So next time you’re sitting in a waiting room and feel awkward doing nothing while everyone else is on their phone/tablet/laptop, be content with just sitting there. Who knows? You might start a new trend.

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