Boreout: Are You Spending Too Much Time in Your Comfort Zone?

Boreout: Are You Spending Too Much Time in Your Comfort Zone?
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As our recent piece about working in the wrong job highlighted, there are loads of people right now who are feeling underwhelmed by their roles. Job dissatisfaction isn’t always super clear cut though, and there are lots of elements that may influence your view of your gig. One of those is the experience of boreout (no, not burnout – boreout).

I chatted with Lysn psychologist Nancy Sokarno about this well-established, but often forgotten, phenomenon that can indicate you’re in need of a work change up.

To begin, let’s chat about what boreout is

As the name suggests, boreout is a condition connected to the feeling of boredom in the workplace. Sokarno explained over email that the term refers to being chronically bored “to the point where it makes a person feel stressed and in some cases, physically ill”.

“Dubbed as boredom’s evil sibling, bore-out is essentially the opposite of burnout but, in many cases, with some similar symptoms,” she explained.

If you look at burnout as a comparison, boreout relates to “mental underload” due to either having not enough or not enough challenging tasks to complete at work.

“It’s a feeling of perpetual boredom due to not being challenged at work or given tasks that keeps a person motivated,” Sokarno said.

“This can lead to having a perceived meaninglessness or feeling as though every day is the same.”

What are the symptoms to look out for?

As we mentioned, some of the symptoms of boreout are interestingly kind of similar to old mate burnout. The key signs of boreout, according to Sokarno, include “feeling demotivated, unsatisfied, or uninspired” in the day-to-day.

In contrast to burnout, “where a person gets stuck in their effort zone for too long,” boreout can leave people stuck in their comfort zone for long periods of time, instead.

This, in turn, may see people feeling “empty, which can lead to feeling angry, frustrated, apathetic, fatigued, nervous, stressed, anxious or jittery,” Sokarno explained.

“It can also culminate in a limited attention span or a lack of interest in what’s happening around you.”

If this experience runs for an extended period, it can have very real impacts on your mental health. Sokarno shared that “prolonged symptoms of boreout can lead to other psychological concerns such as anxiety, chronic stress or depression”.

You may also see physical side effects like gut issues, headaches and more.

What to do if you think you’re experiencing boreout

To start, it’s always a good idea to reach out for support if you’re concerned about your mental health. Services like Beyond Blue (1300 22 4636) and Lifeline (13 11 14) are always available if you need them. Your health matters so do your best to prioritise it.

There is also the option to set up a virtual appointment with a psychologist. Many mental health providers, including Lysn, offer telehealth or video call appointments with psychologists so you don’t need to worry about leaving your home to chat about your wellbeing.

Looking at your work specifically, however, Sokarno shared that where possible, “changing careers, job position or job workplace can certainly help alleviate symptoms of boreout”.

“Changing jobs obviously isn’t a possibility for everyone, however you can start out by doing other things. Try to let your superiors know that you’re not feeling challenged and are ready to take some other tasks,” she said.

There is also the option of looking outside your job for mental stimulation. Could you pick up a new hobby or work on developing a new skill? There are free online courses on Coursera that can challenge you in new and exciting ways, as an example.

Your changes can also be as small as “trying out a different coffee shop or eating something different for breakfast,” Sokarno shared. Introducing something fresh into your routine can do wonders.

In the end, whatever helps make you feel motivated and charged again is a great thing. So experiment a little and see where you land.

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