Is boredom driving you crazy? Implement these easy strategies to help beat the blahs and maintain a healthy mindset
By Karin Katz
Does quarantine boredom have you climbing the walls and singing the blues? If the answer is yes, then welcome to the quarantine era, where bored, lonely and trapped are the new normal feelings.
I think very few people realize how serious boredom can actually be. Many have this misconception that boredom is childish and foolish and if we just find tasks or projects to perform, it will miraculously go away. But that is completely false. In fact, I’ll go one further: Boredom can’t be solved just by having the right books to read or puzzles to assemble. Not even close. That’s because boredom is a very real and natural response to having a lack of meaningful engagement in the world.
Research reveals that we can feel bored even with jobs and activities that appear to be purposeful. How many times have we asked our children how school was today, only to hear “it was boring.” How many times have we ourselves complained that work was boring? We’ve all thrown the word around probably more often than we’d like to admit.
With lives and daily schedules interrupted and socialization almost ground to a halt, all of the things we used to find gratifying are no longer readily available. Offering up recipes to try or good books to read is not going to help with the need for self-fulfillment.
We are all experiencing a time when we need to find real meaning in anything and everything we do. (I don’t think it’s any coincidence that this pandemic is happening in 2020. Haven’t we all used the phrase that hindsight is 20/20?) Right now we get the chance.
Unfortunately, other behaviors associated with boredom are sure to come up. That includes increases in alcohol intake, drug use, eating and watching online pornography — none of which are great coping mechanisms or healthy strategies. And while at the moment they may feel good, each only provides temporary relief.
The real necessity is in understanding the need for social distancing and saving lives. This is a selfless act that is, in its truest form, a type of community service. Embracing that concept makes it more meaningful and fulfilling.
But we still need to stave off boredom. Here are four tips that just might help.
1. Find a new rhythm
Routines and structure provide a sense of consistency that reinforces our meaning in life. People feel more meaning when they’re engaged in daily routines. The key is waking up and going to sleep at consistent times, while also keeping up a new health and exercise routine. Creating new routines buffers boredom.
2. Be adaptable
With so much time on our hands, it’s easy to get lost in the long, unstructured days. Adaptability is a coping skill we all need to build. Fighting this virus isn’t a sprint but a marathon. We need to train ourselves to be present and mentally strong. One way to do this is by limiting the amount of television and media we consume that’s related to Covid-19. It’s ok to take 30 minutes in the morning and evening to see the current events. More than that, though, can lead to depression and anxiety. Another way to improve adaptability is to engage in positive self-talk. A hopeful perspective is key. Those who can let go of their past plans and embrace the new environment will thrive.
3. Be adventurous
Trying new things mitigates monotony and helps us acquire new skills and knowledge that may relieve boredom in the long run. Evidence shows that embracing a new experience can lead to a more meaningful life in general. Now is the time to organize those photos and turn them into a book, learn a new language, or start a worthwhile project that will add purpose and usefulness to your life.
4. Find alternative forms of connection
Whether it’s FaceTime, Zoom, texting, emailing or a simple phone call (remember those?), today’s quarantined life is making us figure out how to socialize in a whole new capacity. Count your blessings and perhaps keep a journal. Celebrations and milestones, work and social gatherings are now being honored and observed in virtual ways. Be creative. Quarantine can take away many things, but it can’t take away our human connections.
Staying at home will only feel meaningful when we’re actively thinking about the collective greatest good — which in this scenario is about keeping people healthy and saving lives. Staying home is a sacrifice we’re actively making for the good of others. Rather than feeling forced to stay home, realize you are choosing to do so as a good citizen.
While we may be isolated, isolation doesn’t have to mean alone. Reach out to to friends, family members or professionals if it becomes too much.
Be smart, stay safe and most importantly, stay healthy.
Born and raised in Bloomfield Hills, Michigan, Karin Katz has a BA in sociology with a minor in psychology, earning honors at Michigan State University. Along with certification in relationship coaching, Karin is an international blogger, past columnist and current contributing writer for SEEN Magazine. She can be reached @firstname.lastname@example.org.