Are you always bored at work?

Boreout - stressful boredom

"It is great! Get paid for doing nothing! " What may sound tempting at first glance can become a real burden. Namely, when boredom and insufficient demands in the workplace become part of everyday life and a boreout arises. We'll show you what's behind this still young term, what consequences can arise for body and psyche and how you can bring more positive stress into your life again.

What is a boreout?

While burnout is now known to most people, the opposite boreout is still quite unknown. This means a condition that is caused by constant underload, boredom and dissatisfaction in the job. This can be the case when we constantly have too little to do or when the work does not demand our skills and knowledge. As a result, for example, we feel underutilized and our job loses its meaning. Doing nothing in the boreout is neither chosen nor associated with laziness. But on the contrary. A boreout arises because we actually want to achieve something, but ultimately lose motivation because we are constantly below our possibilities.

In German, Boreout means something like “bored out”, that is, to have been bored until nothing works. The term first appeared in 2017 in the book “Diagnose Boreout”, which was written by two Swiss management consultants. Contrary to the title, the boreout is neither an independent diagnosis nor has the term been mentioned in the current classification systems.

Know about boreout symptoms

According to the authors, boreout can manifest itself in a number of symptoms that are very similar to those of burnout or depression and which go beyond the work environment. These can include exhaustion, dejection, listlessness, insomnia, social withdrawal, loss of appetite, and loss of interest. Another typical feature of a boreout is constant underload and dissatisfaction at work, which can trigger stress. It is not uncommon for this to manifest itself in the form of psychosomatic complaints such as gastrointestinal problems, tension or even skin rashes due to stress.

Since several symptoms usually occur together, one also speaks of a so-called boreout syndrome.

Appearances are deceptive

Additionally, people with boreout exhibit two key behaviors. So many distract themselves, in spite of everything, to fill the day to some extent and “get it around”. For example, you surf the Internet, make phone calls or write private messages. In addition, those affected often fake a high workload, for example by telling the team about it, dragging out tasks unnecessarily or even working overtime. Behind this is usually the fear of losing your job due to underemployment.

In addition, stress and having “a lot to do” are unfortunately still “good form” in our society and are expected accordingly.

Such behaviors may be helpful in the short term because they create or simulate employment, but in the long term they do not solve the core problem of insufficient demand. But on the contrary. Exactly this game of hide and seek can lead to tasks being distributed to others and increasing boredom, stress and ultimately feelings of guilt.

How does a boreout syndrome develop?

There are three factors that are critical to job satisfaction: meaning, time, and money. A boreout occurs above all when the work lacks meaningfulness. According to the motto “Why am I even doing this? I'm not needed anyway. " In addition, we humans define a large part of our self-worth through our work and the recognition and appreciation that we experience there. This means that a meaningful occupation and the feeling of being needed can strengthen and fulfill us. If all of this is missing, a boreout can occur.

The reasons for such an employment relationship are very different. Above all, different expectations at management level and on the employees' side can lead to tasks being distributed unfavorably. Structural things such as the 8-hour day and fixed attendance times can also favor a boreout. When working hours cannot be flexibly adapted to the respective workload, but have to be “filled”.

Bored brain - bored person

The emergence of a boreout does not only depend on our own experience, but also on what happens in our brain as a result. When we are challenged at work, successfully mastering situations and feeling valued, our brain releases various substances such as the happiness hormone serotonin, the stress hormone cortisol and the bonding hormone oxytocin. Among other things, these increase our mood, act as natural anti-inflammatory agents and increase our performance in the short term. So if we are under-challenged, fewer of these substances are released and a boreout can arise.

In the long run, a boreout itself usually becomes a stress factor and leads to the release of corresponding stress hormones. The difference: because this stress usually persists, the hormones have the opposite effect and weaken our well-being and our performance.

5 tips against boreout

Challenges and a healthy level of positive stress - also known as eustress - can improve our mood, health and performance. How can you use this to overcome your boreout? We give you five tips.

1Recognize and observe your situation

If you want to change your situation, it makes sense to first see what situation you are in at all. How are you doing at work How do you spend your working hours? What bores you and what do you enjoy? What do you wish for Write these things down - preferably regularly. All of this can help you steer your situation in the right direction.

Even if that is often easier said than done. Taking the initiative and looking for a conversation with your boss can decisively counteract your boreout and is usually rated very positively. Discuss your current work situation and actively convey suggestions for improvement (e.g. collaboration on a certain project, flexible working hours), because you know best what you want. Your notes from the first tip can also help you with this.

3 Make yourself positive stress

Train your performance by challenging your mind while you work. Learn a language, read a book, or do other training. When you do these tasks, your brain also releases happiness and attachment hormones, and this strengthens your mood. Being under-challenged at work does not have to mean being under-challenged in life.

4Strengthen your self worth

If there is a lack of recognition and appreciation in the job, it can weaken our self-confidence. So work specifically to strengthen your self-worth. For example, by surrounding yourself with people who are important to you. Or you can organize your free time in a completely independent and active manner. This shows yourself that you are more than just the work that you do.

If, despite everything, nothing changes in your work situation and you are still under-challenged, bored and dissatisfied, then make a fresh start. This can mean that you change departments or the entire job. Look for new challenges and find a job that really suits you and your skills.

Categories StressTags work, boredom, stress symptoms, insufficient demand, dissatisfaction