Anxiety from Being Bored (And How to Cope With it)

In this brief guide, we will look at anxiety from being bored and how to cope with it.

Anxiety From Being Bored

Anxiety from being bored is a relatively common phenomenon that occurs because we are not using our mind the way we are supposed to be doing, and it leads to a feeling of something being wrong.

Anxiety is an irrational emotion that occurs pretty much for any reason, and it usually does not have a sold reason, which means that anxiety from being bored is something that could happen to just about anyone, regardless of what they are like otherwise.

Anxiety from being bored has also become very common because of how much we are involved in the workings of the world right now, through our many devices, and of course, the internet.

Human beings, in general, have never been as involved in the affairs of others or been as entertained as we are right now because we have simply too many options to get rid of our boredom, and therefore when we feel this emotion in the presence of the options we have, it can lead to a bad feeling of why am I feeling this way.

Anxiety from being bored is even more intolerable than just being bored or just having anxiety, because when someone experiences this kind of anxiety, they may not be able to get rid of it at all, as they feel like they have nothing to do and everything that usually brings them pleasure is suddenly boring.

Also, one needs to identify which comes first, anxiety or being bored, because in some cases where the person is suffering from depression or anxiety one can feel like being bored is giving them anxiety when in reality it is the anxiety or depression that is leading to being bored.

Many experts, like the psychotherapist Hilda Burke, have tried to understand why from being bored even exists, and if it is as prevalent as it seems to be.

She, and many other experts, have found that there are many who find the feelings of being bored so absolutely abhorrent that they actually tend to prefer anxiety and stress as the more bearable alternatives, not realising that boredom isn’t necessarily a bad thing.

Hilda Burke, in her book, explains how being bored is often our inner selves’ way of telling us that we’re lacking purpose in our lives right now which means that our mind is essentially telling us to go find it because of how necessary it is.

Hilda says in this book, “Anxiety is probably the most common presenting issue among my client base. One of my clients stands out as having a particularly long history of it; she doesn’t remember a time when anxiety wasn’t a feature of her life. Over the years I’ve worked with her, she has gained a lot of understanding as to what lies behind her anxiety to the extent that it no longer derails her. 

Though still prone to anxiety in certain situations, like most of us, her baseline state is a lot calmer. In the initial stages of our work together, I would try to get her to imagine what life without anxiety might look like, how she might feel in its absence. 

She confessed that one of her fears was that once the anxiety faded away, boredom would loom large in the foreground. Over her decades-long acquaintance with anxiety, she knew and had become accustomed to it, but boredom inspired a real sense of dread in her.”

Hilda describes how anxiety and being bored are related strongly because as the anxiety of her patient reduced, the patient started to feel more and more bored with things, but through Hilda’s help, the patient started to learn to get out of this feeling and even came to embrace this new state. 

In fact, the patient did the healthier thing and labelled this boredom “a privilege” and she rightly recognized it for what it was — a sign that anxiety had released its stronghold over her life. 

Like many people who feel anxiety from being bored or other types of problems centred around anxiety and boredom, this patient too started to learn how to better react to and judge her boredom, and this helped ease it.

Furthermore, when someone starts to move past their anxiety and boredom they start to learn new skills and new things they could be doing with all the energy that was initially going into their experience of anxiety and fear. 

The client who has been discussed here started writing and engaging in creative pursuits again which in turn alleviated the boredom as well, and also helped keep more anxiety at bay.

A famous German philosopher Arthur Schopenhauer asserted that as humans we are “doomed to vacillate between the two extremities of distress and boredom.”

Even though it may seem like anxiety from being bored makes no sense because the two things have so little in common, the truth is that it is completely understandable because they simply aren’t normal states of being.

Anxiety from Being Bored and Psychology

Anxiety from being bored is a very interesting topic in the field of psychology because of the ramifications it has on the behaviour of the person, in fact, it has been seen that many people who are frequently bored may have problems like drug abuse and gambling.

The reason for bad behaviour occurring when someone is experiencing anxiety from being bored is because the person is trying to both calm down as well as distract or entertain themselves, and sadly enough for both or either of these things, high stakes things like impulsive behaviour what seems to help most people.

Psychologists also say that people these days feel more and more bored, because ironically, they are spoilt for choice, and so much choice also leads to anxiety as well as boredom because the person is constantly faced with choices to the point that they find themselves unable to make any of them.

Wijnand van Tilburg, a psychologist at the University of Southampton, one such psychologist who is studying the experience of being bored, says, “Even though boredom is very common, there is a lack of knowledge about it. There hasn’t been much research about how it affects people on an everyday basis.”

It is also quite curious that being bored does not even have a classical psychological definition despite how common it is, but Psychologist John Eastwood, PhD, of York University in Toronto, has recently tried to provide one by combing through the many theories of boredom and extract the common elements to create a unified definition.

According to him and his team, it was best to define boredom in terms of attention, and they say that in most cases, the bored person doesn’t just have nothing to do, they also want to be stimulated, but are unable, for whatever reason, to connect with his or her environment.

Eastwood says, “In a nutshell, it boiled down to boredom being the unfulfilled desire for satisfying activity.”

This brings us to anxiety from being bored and how we can understand it through the definition of boredom given by Eastwood, because according to this definition, boredom is associated with both low-arousal and high-arousal states, and as we well know, anxiety is a very high arousal state.

Also, according to Eastwood and his research, being bored can lead to an agitated restlessness: think pacing, or constantly tapping your feet, all of which are also associated strongly with anxiety.

Causes of Being Bored

Here are some common causes of being bored:

  • Not having clear instructions
  • Being afraid of making a mistake
  • Poor time perception
  • Too much or too little choice or control 
  • Not having a variety of recreational interests
  • Lack of interest in the task at hand
  • Repetition of activity 
  • Not being able to try new approaches 
  • Receiving inadequate rest or nutrition
  • Not having enough mental stimulation

How to Cope with Anxiety from Being Bored?

Here are some helpful ways to cope with anxiety from being bored:

  • Stay physically active — play with a pet or with your children, or even with friends. Do something that raises your heart rate.
  • Learn a new skill — learning a language or a musical instrument can be very beneficial for both anxiety and being bored, and this can certainly help improve your mental health.
  • Do something detail-oriented that grabs and sustains your attention.
  • Do something creative.
  • Talk to your friends.
  • Redecorate your living space.
  • Get something to eat.
  • Don’t try to choose what to do or think about it too much.
  • Don’t try to get rid of the negative feelings by trying to watch something.


In this brief guide, we looked at anxiety from being bored and how to cope with it. If you have any questions or comments about this type of anxiety, please feel free to reach out to us at any time.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs): Anxiety from Being Bored

Can being bored make you anxious?

Yes, being bored can make you anxious, in some cases because it may make you feel that you are not doing something that you should be doing, and in other cases, it may also be because boredom registers as a negative emotion in your mind and therefore makes you feel irrationally fearful.

Boredom is processed differently in the brain and in a study that aimed to study the relationship between being bored and anxious, Perone and his colleagues found that people who experience boredom more often tend to have more anxiety and are more prone to depression.

Can you go crazy from being bored?

Yes, you can go crazy from being bored, so to speak, although crazy is not a word that is used to depict mental unrest of any kind anymore.

Boredom can make you feel like you are heading towards insanity but it can also make you very creative and make you see things in a different light as you try to figure out how to get rid of boredom.

What are the negative effects of boredom?

The negative effects of boredom include a higher risk for depression,  drug addiction, alcoholism, low work performance, anxiety, hostility, anger, poor social skills, bad grades compulsive gambling and eating disorders.

Is chronic boredom a mental illness?

No, chronic boredom is not a mental illness but it can be a symptom of one, or conversely, it can lead to mental illness as well, and it has been seen in many studies that people who experience chronic boredom are likely to be more prone to suffering from depression or anxiety.

Chronic boredom can be a result of many things like job dissatisfaction and other problems in one’s life, which is why it would not be fair to consider it a mental illness, however, it can lead to many undesirable outcomes.