Americans and Boredom…A bad combination!

In one social-science experiment, people were told to spend 15 minutes alone in a room with their thoughts. The only possible distraction was an electric shock they could administer to themselves. And 67 percent of men and 25 percent of women shocked themselves, choosing — as Richard Friedman, a psychiatrist, writes in a Times Op-Ed — “negative stimulation over no stimulation.”
The pandemic has obviously increased bouts of boredom for many people. How can you fight it (without electric shocks)? Several recent articles have offered suggestions:
Try new things. Boredom can result from feeling unchallenged, explains Erin Westgate of the University of Florida, for the website The Conversation. So use the downtime of the pandemic to take on a new activity, like cooking, gardening, home improvement, genealogy or exercise. There are online classes for almost anything these days.
Socialize safely. Boredom has led some Americans to behave unsafely, at parties, bars and elsewhere, write Luke Fernandez and Susan Matt in Salon. But it’s possible to see other people safely — on a walk or a bike ride, during a masked or outdoor grocery run or, if all else fails, over a video chat.
Embrace boredom, to a point. Letting your mind wander can free up time for creative thinking. “The secret to doing good research is always to be a little underemployed,” the great psychologist Amos Tversky said. “You waste years by not being able to waste hours.”