With the onset of the Covid-19 pandemic, the past two years have been strange and unprecedented, and for many, increasingly stressful for a number of factors. On top of all of the unknowns of the pandemic, Acadia is now seeing more uncertainty with the faculty strike, about to finish its fourth week. While some students will be welcoming to a break in their daily structure and the unknown of when that structure will return, many students thrive on a rigid and consistent schedule, and are feeling the mental effects of boredom and a lack of routine.
Even those who do not normally adhere to a strict schedule will feel the mental effects of a lack of routine. Particularly in these times of heightened stress and uncertainty, elements of routine are extremely important in combating anxious feelings. Having a sense of routine and productivity can make you feel like you have more energy, whereas having a lack of schedule can make you feel more lethargic. It rarely feels good to accomplish very little each day over a longer period of time. A lack of control over your day can zap your self-esteem and sense of fulfillment. The online learning structure that all students have experienced at least partially in the last two years has left many students feeling isolated, but at least gives a sense of structure and organization.
Studies show that feelings of boredom can contribute to more reckless and destructive behaviours, particularly in young people. When your brain no longer feels stimulated or constructive, you are likely to seek out activities or behaviour to occupy your brain, regardless of their productivity level or usefulness. This can in some instances also contribute to an increased risk of mental illnessess. In short, people and their brains do not like to sit in silence with little or nothing to stimulate them.
Despite this, other studies have shown that boredom can be a positive and resetting experience for your brain, and can even improve mental health. This is because when people’s brains lack stimulation and seek to find other sources of occupation, they often turn to their own interior feelings as well as their social and community relationships to occupy their brains. To put it another way, sometimes the brain can benefit and produce productive and creative thoughts from its lack of stimulation, instead of seeking out destructive thoughts and behaviours, depending on the person and situation.
In regards to how this information pertains to and will affect Aadia students, it comes down to the individual student and their personal situation, including their social relationships and how they deal with stress and a shift in structure.
Kim, Meeri. “Boredom’s Link to Mental Illnesses, Brain Injuries and Dysfunctional Behaviors.” The Washington Post. 17th July 2021.
“Let Your Brain Rest: Boredom Can Be Good For Your Health.” Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute. 20th August 2020.