According to research conducted in 1981, when we’re bored we can slip into a trance like state that allows our subconscious to wander. Our subconscious mind is better at solving problems because it is less constrained than our conscious one – therefore we might make connections there that we previously had not.
Without stimulation readily waiting, boredom allows us to be creative and make connections, imagine and so forth. These imaginations are less likely if your senses are already being stimulated and have no reason to occur.
There’s a reason why when we’re feeling down, we’re advised to keep busy. That’s because the mind is too occupied to dwell on what has just happened – that break up we’ve been through or mistakes we’ve made. But self-reflection is a really important part of the healing process, and those that have more time away from stimulation are more likely to do so.
According to a study in 2011, boredom can actually make you less selfish. That’s because boredom often results in a need for meaningfulness in life – and so we reach out to family and friends, help someone out or even volunteer. When we’re busy and lead a crazily social life, there’s less time for thinking about people who might need us.