Have you ever been bored? Not short-term boredom like waiting at the doctor’s office or sitting through a film you’re not enjoying. But long-term boredom, day after day, hour after hour, minute after excruciatingly long minute.
Perhaps you’re in a job that’s not challenging you. Or maybe you’re overdue an adventure. For me, it was the monotony of never-ending housework that left me feel under-stimulated.
Whilst a little boredom is good for you, chronic boredom can be damaging to your health. Temporary boredom promotes creativity and productivity, as well as reducing stress. However, chronic boredom has been linked to increased drug and alcohol abuse, overeating, depression and anxiety.
So how can you overcome boredom? Read on for GoalGetters’ tips on how to nurture your intellectual wellbeing.
What is intellectual wellbeing and why is it important?
Intellectual wellbeing is keeping your mind flexible, informed and engaged (definition from American Nurse Today).
It involves using problem solving, creativity and learning. This can be practised through academic pursuits, creativity, intellectual activities, or personal hobbies. Anything that stimulates the mind and encourages it to grow is beneficial for your intellectual wellbeing.
Intellectual wellbeing is important for a number of reasons.
Firstly, it helps you to increase your knowledge and skill level, allowing you to lead a stimulating and successful life.
Improving your intellectual wellbeing makes you open to new ideas, which makes you more rounded and empathic. It increases your sense of exploration and curiosity, which in turn improves your motivation.
Finally, it has benefits for your physical health, guarding against the risks associated with boredom (above). Improving your intellectual wellbeing even improves the physical structure of the brain!
Below are some ideas of goals that can help you to improve your intellectual wellbeing.
Goals to help you improve your intellectual wellbeing
There are three main facets to intellectual wellbeing. They are keeping your mind:
Each of the goal ideas below will help with at least one of these areas.
1. Read a book
What better way to exercise your intellect than by reading?
But what you read is important. The latest chick lit isn’t going to develop your brain as much as a philosophy book (although it can be a good way to unwind). Choose something you wouldn’t usually read to help keep your brain flexible and to experience new things.
2. Take a course
Keep your brain flexible and informed by learning something new. Make sure it is something you are interested in to keep you engaged and stimulated.
Check out your local community education classes, or hop online and see what’s available.
3. Attend an art exhibition
Or a concert. Or a show. Or visit your local museum. Do something cultural to engage your intellect and inspire your creativity.
4. Complete a puzzle
You could choose a jigsaw puzzle, a crossword, a sudoku puzzle – anything to provide some intellectual stimulation as well as some fun!
5. Eat healthily and exercise to maximise brain function
This one is often overlooked. But your physical and intellectual health are interlinked. Healthy eating and exercise will help to keep your brain on top form.
6. Read a newspaper
Keep up to date with the latest current affairs by reading a newspaper. This may also expose you to views different to your own, helping to develop your flexibility.
7. Practice mindfulness
Mindfulness involves focussing your attention on the present moment. Practicing mindfulness allows your brain to rest and recharge, improving your focus and productivity.
If you’re new to mindfulness, try the Smiling Mind app for short, guided sessions.
8. Change your routine
Interrupting your usual routine means that your brain has to do more work (adapting to the new situation), which helps to maintain flexibility.
9. Do something exciting
It might be finding a new hobby, or planning a trip. Find something you’re passionate about, and do that.
10. Argue the opposite point of view
This is a great way to improve your flexibility – enter a debate, and argue the point of view opposite to the one that you actually hold.
An alternative activity would be to put yourself in someone else’s shoes and write a story from their viewpoint.
11. Improve your listening skills
When you actively listen, you are open to learning different points of view. Learn active listening techniques (find a course, a book, or search online), and practise these. Make a note of what you learn from these conversations and reflect upon how your listening contributed to your understanding.
Travelling ticks so many boxes for your intellectual wellbeing. Your flexibility will be tested and grown by the myriad of new experiences you’ll encounter. In turn, you’ll learn a great deal. It’ll also be highly engaging, as you step out of your comfort zone.
13. Be Creative
Engage in a creative activity that inspires you. If you don’t know what that is yet, try a few until you find one. Drawing, writing, playing a musical instrument, art, knitting, dance, photography are just some of the things that you could try.
If you have kids, join in with their artistic play. It takes the pressure off of making it ‘just right’, and they’ll love you joining in!
14. Learn how you learn
Take some time to research different learning styles to understand how you learn and process information. This will help you to continue learning new information. Mindtools has a range of articles to help you understand your learning style.
15. Play a game
Previously we looked at how puzzles can help improve your intellectual wellbeing. The same is true for board games or card games. Anything that makes you think can develop your intellectual wellbeing.
16. Play a musical instrument
Playing a musical instrument can help to improve your intellectual wellbeing as there are many elements and skills to learn.
Just as eating healthily and exercising are important for neurological health, so is sleep. Have you ever had to function on little to no sleep? It has a serious impact on your ability to carry out even basic tasks.
To maximise your intellectual wellbeing, make sure you are getting 7-9 hours of sleep per night.
Whilst multi-tasking was the buzzword of the nineties, it’s now generally accepted that focussing on one task at a time is more productive.
However, it’s not just our productivity that suffers when we multitask – scientists have found that multitasking actually shrinks our brain and impacts on our cognitive ability (read more here).
To keep your brain in working order, focus on one thing at a time whenever possible.
Journalling allows you the opportunity to reflect upon your thoughts and feelings. As well as encouraging deeper thought, this also helps to understand and regulate your emotions, which is another factor in intellectual wellbeing.
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