How Boredom at Work Links To Your Health

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Constant boredom at work links to your health.

Key Take Aways:

  • Chronic boredom in the office might be associated with a greater risk of death, according to a British research study.
  • Sitting for long periods every day is unhealthy and could shorten a person's lifespan.
  • Chronic boredom is a form of stress, and constant stress is unhealthy.

Researchers at University College London found civil servants aged 35-55 in their study who reported being bored very much were more likely to die than those who were not at all bored. The cause of death for those who were more likely to die would most probably be cardiovascular disease, such as a heart attack. (Coincidentally, a new research study indicated British workers are the most depressed in Europe.)

You might say civil servants (government workers) epitomize the bored office worker because large bureaucracies are notorious for being very slow-moving, overly structured quagmires where even completing basic tasks can sometimes take a very long time. (A friend who worked for the federal government once recounted a story where it took six months to make a simple change to her official business card because of all the red tape.)

Boredom has been described as a stressor, probably because of the level of frustration that comes with it, which can accumulate over time. Chronic stress has been linked to depression. Tens of billions of dollars are lost each year due to worker depression. A recent study showed that millennials are the most depressed generation.

Sitting for long periods each day also increases the risk of death and health problems. Even in the 1950s research showed government workers in offices were more likely to die than mail carriers. Also bus drivers studied in London were more likely to die than the bus conductors , because the conductors walk around the bus handling tickets and interacting with passengers.  Chronic boredom is related to sedentariness simply because it means a person is disengaged, and less likely to move physically.

Additionally, recent research in Afghanistan found military surgical personnel who experienced boredom because of the intermittent nature of their work were more likely to become critical, which resulted in the destabilizing of their teams. The term 'psychological safety' was referenced due to a concern junior members of the teams no longer felt safe to express their opinions and be heard.


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Image Credit: Photo by Adam Jones adamjones.freeservers.com

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Jake Richardson

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