Ask an expert: Could lockdown represent ‘the most creative period in the history of mankind?’

21 May 2020

Dr Sandi Mann, Senior Psychology Lecturer, explores how the boredom of lockdown is stimulating our brains.

What happens to our brains when we are bored?

We get bored when our brains’ search for neural stimulation is not met. If they cannot find stimulation within our environment, our brains will attempt to find it internally by mind-wandering and daydreaming.

Both of these processes are great for creativity. In fact, boredom is an incredibly creative force and, as my research shows, doing nothing can deliver impressive benefits. You start thinking in new, productive ways and come up with your own solutions to problems.

If you can overcome the initial, painful period of boredom, you could unlock creativity that you didn’t realise you had.

How is the boredom of lockdown accelerating our creativity?

The boredom of lockdown could be a catalyst for the most creative period in the history of mankind. We are already witnessing a surge in creativity that has never been seen before in such a short period. With the lockdown forcing so many people to allow boredom into their lives, society could reap the benefits with a wave of new creative solutions and entrepreneurship.

With so many people forced to take a temporary break from work, this could be an opportunity to develop our creativity in a way that has previously been stifled by our always-on culture. Right now, the world is in a large-scale scientific experiment and, despite the anxiety and distress of lockdown, it’s possible that the next best-selling book or revolutionary business idea may yet emerge from this period.

How can people harness boredom to unlock their creative potential?

Before lockdown, it’s possible that we didn’t have enough opportunities to be bored in our busy lives. Under lockdown, we are experiencing too much boredom, but we can still harness that boredom to generate creative solutions.

Letting your mind wander and daydream without the distractions of music or technology can be a really useful way to allow your mind to unwind, alleviate stress and solve problems, boosting your productivity and creativity in the process.
It’s good to be bored, so we should take this unusual opportunity to embrace it and capitalise on its potential. Those that do so could be the undiscovered genius behind the next big book, film or artistic masterpiece!

Dr Sandi Mann
Dr Sandi Mann