Waiting for web pages to load, getting stuck in traffic, watching someone play video games – they come high on most people’s Top Five Most Boring Things to do list.
They’re all things that test your patience, but they’re not terminal you say. Until now, that is, because according to new research, you really can be bored to death.
Boredom Bad For Heart
It seems the more bored you are, the more likely you are to die early, although scientists caution it’s probably not the boredom alone that will kill you, but the risky behaviour – drinking, eating, inhaling the wrong things – that often accompanies it.
It doesn’t hurt to be just occasionally bored – that happens to everyone. It’s the chronic kind of boredom that’s dangerous.
In the study 7500 London civil servants aged 35 – 55 were questioned about how bored they were at work the previous month, and then those who were still alive were followed up 20 years later.
University College London researchers Annie Britton and Martin Shipley found that those who reported they had been very bored were two and a half times more likely to die of a heart problem than those who hadn’t reported being bored.
But when the authors made a statistical adjustment for other potential risk factors, like physical activity levels and employment grade, the effect was reduced.
Boredom As Dangerous As Stress
Researchers point out someone who is bored may not be motivated to eat well or exercise, and boredom is often linked to depression, which has long been recognized as a risk factor for heart disease.
Others said boredom was potentially as dangerous as stress.
“Boredom is not innocuous,” said Sandi Mann, a senior lecturer in occupational psychology at the University of Central Lancashire who studies boredom.
She said boredom is linked to anger suppression, which can raise blood pressure and suppress the body’s natural immunity. “People who are bored also tend to eat and drink more, and they’re probably not eating carrots and celery sticks,” she said.