It’s been said that “idle hands are the devil’s tool” and quite frankly, it’s true. And if you’re recently retired, or just flat-out bored, you know exactly what I’m talking about.
Boredom might not appear like a health risk at first glance. But it’s sneaky—just like the devil, and could contribute to high cholesterol, elevated blood pressure, mood troubles, and more.
How can this be? Pretty easy, actually. When you’re bored, bad things just sort of happen.
For example, boredom leads to snacking—mindless, unstoppable snacking that all has to do with a neurotransmitter in your head called dopamine. When you’re bored, you’re not really thinking about much and your brain is in need of something to make it feel a bit better.
The snack provides a fleeting hit of dopamine to perk you up. Unfortunately, it’s only a short matter of time before you need another hit. And let’s be real, no one is grabbing grapes for that. They’re hitting chips, candies, and other foods that promote inflammation, high cholesterol, and weight gain.
Boredom can also result in a heck of a lot of sitting. And we all know that too much sitting has a major influence on blood pressure, mortality, mobility, pain, and chronic illness.
If you’re recently retired, boredom can also put you in a bad mood. The fact that you might not be sure what to do with your time, or finding something else to pursue, may lead to feelings of decreased value. It can be a challenging adjustment period.
But here’s some light—boredom is not always a bad thing. Sitting with your thoughts is good—it allows for thinking, reflection, and recollection. Your smartphone is not always your friend and you don’t need to be constantly engaged—you’ve earned a bit of rest.
That can only account for so much time, however. The other cure for boredom is curiosity. Stimulating your mind, getting out and doing things, and finding various activities, topics, or knowledge to pursue can all promote healthy habits to limit the dangerous impacts of boredom. Getting a part-time job, taking a class, or joining a club can help. So can building model cars!
Snacks and smartphones aren’t the only way to access your dopamine drip. Curiosity can help keep boredom at bay and improve your chances of a healthy future.