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Your lifestyle, your quirk
As you sit in a never-ending meeting or in a class with a long-winded professor, you may swear that you’re dying of boredom. You’ll survive, of course, but you might not have been that far off about being so bored to death. A study out of England found that there is a connection between being bored and death by heart disease. So how exactly does boredom hurt your heart, and what can you do to stop it?
Back in the late 1980s, about 7,500 British civil servants were interviewed on a number of subjects, including whether they had felt bored at work during the previous month. Researchers tracked down the participants to and looked at those who died before April 2009. The data suggested that those who were bored at work were 2.5 times more likely to die of heart disease than those who weren’t bored. Psychology Today compared those findings to some statistics from the American Heart Association, like that smokers are two to four times more likely to develop coronary heart disease than nonsmokers; those with obesity, high blood pressure, and high blood sugar are twice as likely to have a heart attack and three times more likely to die prematurely than the rest of the population. The findings from the British survey put boredom at the same danger level as smoking and obesity, so it must be pretty serious.
Health problems have yet to be directly and definitively linked to boredom, so it’s probably not the main cause. In fact, it could be a symptom of an unhealthy lifestyle. Those who are bored at work may spend most of the day sitting, which recent studies have found to be hazardous to your health. Psychology Today guesses that bored people could be less motivated to get active or eat healthfully, but I guess that people could be bored because they’re not getting active or eating well.
Think about it: doing something active like going for a quick walk would ease boredom by giving you a break from a hum-drum day, providing a change of scenery, and getting your blood pumping. Eating a healthy diet might require a bit more effort than heating up a frozen dinner or hitting a drive–thru, but heading to a farmer’s market or grocery store to pick out fresh veggies, researching new recipes, and cooking a fun dinner will curb boredom. Social interactions have been proven to prolong our lives, and going out with friends and connecting with family should stave off boredom (unless you have some long-winded loved ones).
There would have to be more research to find out exactly how boredom relates to heart disease, so for the time being, try to stop being bored! Take a class at a community center or through an online service, get out with friends, ask to take on new challenges at work, take on a new exercise regime, take regular walks, catch up with friends, or try learning some new healthy recipes. The cure for boredom may just be the cure for heart disease, too.