Our brains are in constant overdrive: always busy. During your day-to-day tasks, but also during your REM sleep, which will help you process your day. On top of that, there are endless external stimuli from your emails, social media, your apps, all resulting in a brain out of balance. The likes on social media are little shots of dopamine and they are very addictive. Your brain is dealing with chronic stress. This stress can cause you to lose 10 IQ points, research has shown. You will be in a constant state of alertness, but you are seldom focused. By being on alert, your cortisol levels are raised constantly, causing a decrease in your memory capacity and concentration. If this all continues too long, it will end in anxiety and burn-out. Not good at all.
Initially, your brain will oppose boredom
Most of us don’t like being bored: we are so used to have so many little dopamine shots, external stimuli, that without them, we are confused. Chances are big you feel restless or guilty as soon as boredom sets in. Our brain is so not used at all to not doing anything and it will oppose this situation. This will make you feel bad.
Your brain’s default network is a part of your brain that is rather active when it is allowed to rest. Without stimuli, the brain will focus internally and not so much externally anymore. Thus the brain starts to look for new stimuli; you will reflect or daydream and your creativity and resourcefulness start to become more alive.
It is exactly why the best ideas occur standing under the shower or when you are lying in bed. In these circumstances, you don’t have any external stimuli so your brain’s default network will be activated. You will imagine the most genius solutions for all your PhD obstacles.
Boredom will make you smarter and more focused.
All these external stimuli cause your brain to lose its capacity for encouragement. This means you have to get used to not doing anything, which will result in your brain using its default network system.
Try to being bored! Your brain is flexible and will get used very quickly to the idea of entertaining itself. Space for ‘nothing’ makes you more creative, smarter and focused. Or use this method which will really teach you to do nothing at all.
Add some relaxing activities like walking or meditation. And don’t forget to spend time with the people you love, that will really make your brain happy and everything will add up to a successful PhD.