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Coping with Boredom

By Matt Cavallo
Coping-with-Boredom_1.jpegBy now you have binged every series you wanted to see, twice. Zoom meetings went from in vogue to so passé. For a while there, states tried to open up, but we were forced to retreat just like Punxsutawney Phil when he sees his shadow. Only our retreat doesn’t signify six more weeks of winter, because the time of our quarantine is not yet defined.

The problem with quarantine is that it goes against our nature as humans. We are social animals. We want to build, explore, and congregate. So not having the ability to do those things can make us feel any number of feelings, but the one feeling most people can’t shake is coping with the boredom.

Boredom defined broadly is an emotional state of mind where a person doesn’t have anything to do, is not interested in anything in their immediate surroundings, and feels that everything they could do is mundane. The problem with boredom is that it can transfer from an emotional to psychological state, meaning that boredom has become a sustained change and will be difficult to snap out of. 

You know that feeling when you go to bed bored the night before and wake up bored the next day? No matter what you do, you can’t snap out of it. It then starts to affect your job performance and relationships. Pretty soon you lose interest in everything and your boredom grows into depression.

If this sounds like you, let’s work on some strategies to combat that boredom.

Take an ice-cold shower: When I get bored I start to feel warm and then all of a sudden I am tired and sleepy. There is something about ice-cold water that stimulates every waking nerve and your body providing an instant jolt of energy. That jolt of energy is what is needed to propel you past your boredom.

Get out on a bike, run, or walk: Now that you are stimulated from that cold shower, capitalize on that energy with fresh air and exercise. Do this to the best of your ability. Riding a bike is a low impact exercise that allows you to keep a social distance while getting exercise in the fresh air. 

Change of scenery: This one is more difficult because of COVID-19, but, if you can, take a scenic drive. Stop somewhere you have never stopped before, but always wanted to check out. Day trips are a great way to stimulate your mind, see something new, and break away from boredom.

Painting or Puzzles: You don’t have to be Picasso to pick up a paintbrush. There are many low-cost paint-by-number kits that will unleash your inner Bob Ross. My wife bought a couple for us and the kids and they turned out great even though we are not the most gifted artists. Not only that, they kept us engaged and gave us a project we could all work on together. We had the same experience with puzzles. As a person living with MS, these kinds of activities also help me stay cognitively active and sharp. 

Learn something new: Whether it is a new hobby, skill, or trade, this is the perfect opportunity to learn something new. Let’s say that you could move ahead in your career, but need some kind of licensure or certification. The time is now to invest in your future. Many of these types of licenses or certification programs offer online courses and test-taking. Instead of being bored, learn something that can help propel you to that next step in life or a hobby that you’ll enjoy for years to come.

Reconnect with old friends: Breaking the boring old routine can mean trying to reach out or rekindle friendships that you have had in the past. Whether it was time or distance that drove you apart, there is no time like the present to reach out and reconnect with that person you lost touch with so long ago.