Don’t be bored to death – literally!

February 15, 2010 by  

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Bored? You have to be careful that you don’t end up bored to death – literally.

You see, boredom can lead to an early death, according to researchers at the Department of Epidemiology and Public Health of the University College London in the UK.

The study surveyed participants of the famous Whitehall II cohort study, which consisted of thousands of London-based civil servants aged 35 to 55 years old. A total of 7524 participants had to answer questionnaires which evaluated their level of boredom during the past 4 weeks. They rated their boredom as

  • not at all
  • a little
  • quite a lot
  • all the time

The researchers found that high level of boredom is associated with death at a young age.

The profile of those who are chronically bored are

  • Young
  • Female
  • Low rank of employment
  • Low levels of physical activity

In addition the chronically bored rate their health as worse than their peers and have a higher likelihood to die from a fatal cardiovascular event such as stroke or heart attack.

The authors of the study Annie Brittonand Martin J Shipley concluded:

We conclude that those who report being bored are more likely to die younger than those who are not bored. However, the state of boredom is almost certainly a proxy for other risk factors. Whilst some aspects of life may not be so easily modified (e.g. disease status or position in society), proneness to boredom, particularly in younger populations, could be indicative of harmful behaviours such as excessive drinking, smoking, taking drugs and low psychological profiles. Finding renewed interest in social and physical activities may alleviate boredom and improve health, thus reducing the risk of being ‘bored to death’.

Previous studies have shown that boredom can lead to early death due to its association with risky behaviour, unhealthy lifestyle, and psychological problems. A study by researchers at the University of West Florida showed that undergraduate students who were prone to boredom scored high in the Hopkins Symptom Checklist that include disorders such as Obsessive-Compulsive, Somatization, Anxiety, Interpersonal Sensitivity, and Depression.

Thus, next time you feel bored, maybe you should take a look at your lifestyle. Remember: a lot of the so-called boredom busters (alcohol, drugs, entertainment, etc.) are not necessarily the solution to your problems. Boredom is not just about the lack of something to do. The studies reviewed here indicate there are deeper causes to boredom – and it can cost you your life.

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