By now, millions of people in the world are practicing shelter-in-place measures due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Based on individual and environmental factors, each person is coping with this differently. For some, it has felt like a relief to escape certain stressors, and an opportunity to practice self-care. For others, this has posed an unusual challenge – of how to cope with being alone, or how to keep oneself entertained without leaving their house, or how to hold oneself accountable for completing tasks. Many may also find themselves ebbing and flowing between enjoying and struggling the extra time. Regardless of where you fall on that spectrum, it’s natural that some boredom will hit you from time to time until stay-at-home measures are relieved. Although our options for coping with boredom are limited, there are still plenty of ways to break up the day-to-day feelings of monotony amid the Coronavirus. Below are some suggestions for coping with that stay-at-home slump:
Reset your expectations of “having fun.” Under ordinary circumstances, we may have several ideas of what we consider entertaining – most which could involve leaving the house or surrounding oneself around other people. Being that these are unordinary circumstances, however, it’s helpful to put things into perspective and remind ourselves that certain activities we once thought as ordinary are some of the most exciting options we have now. For example, just a couple months ago, you may have considered something like reading a good book or taking a walk to be pleasant, but not thrilling; consider those activities in comparison to what else is possible at the moment, however, and they may seem more stimulating. The main takeaway here is to try not to compare what you’re doing in your free time to all the things you can’t be doing, but rather what you can be doing until Coronavirus concerns lessen.
Move your body. Plenty of research shows that exercise has a significant impact on brain and mental health, which are in need of our care right now. You may also find that, if you incorporate some fitness into your days, you’ll feel more accomplished and appreciative of how you spent part of your day. Although gyms and group fitness opportunities are closed to maintain social distancing, there are still several options for exercising – running/walking/biking outside while maintaining at least 6 feet from other people, using a free fitness app, or letting yourself move to some music.
Complete a different “to-do list” task each day. However long stay-at-home measures are in place, think of this time as an opportunity to tend to some tasks you may have been putting off for a while. You might want to make a list of things you’d like to accomplish – reorganize your closet, clear through and unsubscribe from spam email, or deep clean certain household appliances. Completing some of these activities may still feel tedious but, similar to exercise, can lead to a later sense of accomplishment that challenges earlier feelings of boredom.
Shake up what you’re already doing, just a bit. There may be some days where you don’t have the energy to do much, and that’s perfectly normal right now! You might have a go-to activity for these moments, but it can feel less monotonous if you change the way you engage in it from time to time. For example, if you feel like you only have enough energy for watching a TV show but that it’s also gotten too routine, maybe you could try sitting in a different room than usual or alternating which shows you watch. It doesn’t have to be a huge change, but adding some novelty to your regular activity can help you feel more engaged in what you are doing.
Sit with the boredom. The more we can practice tolerating something that feels uncomfortable, the better we are able to cope with it over time. With boredom, this can mean accepting the feeling as it comes, without overwhelming yourself by trying to push it away. One way of practicing this is, when boredom “strikes,” challenge yourself to sit with it for 5 minutes without judgment or guilting yourself for feeling that way. Over time, you may notice that you can either tolerate the feeling better, or that it even hits less often.