If going about your daily life feels more like “existing” than “living”, chances are you’re experiencing understimulation. This state occurs when you’re feeling uninspired by your surroundings which can lead to boredom, lack of motivation and even depression if prolonged.
Combined with the long periods of quarantine, combating under stimulation becomes more challenging. Fortunately, there are some things you can do to relieve understimulation and overcome boredom to lead a healthier mind and body.
#1. Create a structure
Maintaining a routine does wonders for your mental wellbeing as it provides you with new goals and a sense of accomplishment.
Whether or not you’re leaving the house, you should still get up, get dressed and carry on as usual — even if nobody is going to see it. Pajama days now and then are okay but too much of it can dampen your spirit. Set aside specific times for study and leisure to avoid feeling overwhelmed when things get jumbled up. No doubt these are stressful times but maintaining a feeling of optimism and normalcy significantly boosts your mental and physical health.
If you start to feel restless after maintaining the same routine for a while, switch it up. Change your schedule and chores around instead of doing the same thing every week. Slot in a quick stretch in the afternoon in between classes or prep your meals at night for the next day instead of cooking when you’re hungry. Sometimes the lack of challenge can lead to boredom so it’s important that you reinvent your routine to boost your mood.
#2. Explore new things
When you combine staying home for long stretches of time with endless social media content, expect bizarre things to experiment on. From Dalgona coffee to DIY furniture upcycling, there’s a huge chance you’ve done it all — and you should continue doing it.
Feeling bored often pushes you to try new things. Not only does it make you feel better, you’ll also acquire new skills and knowledge that can benefit you in the long run. For instance, starting a simple workout routine can prevent you from feeling sluggish and experimenting in the kitchen can save you a lot of money spent on takeouts.
So, if you ever have the urge to start a new project and try something new, embrace it. In fact, studies have shown that embracing new experiences can help you lead a meaningful life. However, it’s also important that you attend to your urges sensibly. Do your research and have a think about it before you start. You don’t want your new passion project on carpentry or gardening to go south.
#3. Make room for guilty pleasures
A guilty pleasure is something that you enjoy doing, even though it may be embarrassing for you to admit it. Whether it’s ordering greasy takeouts or binge-watching TV shows on end, it’s no wonder that people often feel bad for indulging in their guilty pleasures. After all, they’re called that for a reason.
The problem lies when it gets excessive. Sure, there’s no harm in some reality TV every now and then but if you’re binge-watching day in and day out until the wee hours of the morning, it can interrupt your sleep schedule and leave you feeling depressed.
So, cut yourself a break and enjoy your guilty pleasures — but do so with a caveat. Use those guilty pleasure activities as a buffer or recharging moments between your meaningful activities. This creates boundaries so you don’t spend all your days being a couch potato.
#4. Connect with loved ones over virtual calls
Feel a little “blah” lately? You don’t have much to do and no one to hang out with either. This gloominess only adds misery to your boredom.
While staying in has given you ample time to practise self care and enjoy your own company, being alone for long periods of time can have adverse effects on your health. Studies show that prolonged loneliness can affect your sleeping patterns, cause heart problems and also depression.
The truth is that humans are social beings. Whether or not you prefer spending time on your own, socialising is an important part of your wellbeing. Aim to have at least one personal conversation a day. If that takes up too much energy, just check up on someone. This will help the both of you get by during this stressful time.
If talking is too much, consider a virtual hangout. You don’t necessarily need to have a deep, meaningful conversation all the time. Sometimes, coexisting with your friends via Zoom is good enough to foster bond and care even from a distance.
#5. Go with the flow
Part of your boredom probably stems from the need to be productive with your day. This can be more challenging when you face long unstructured days.
Truthfully, it’s okay to do nothing sometimes. Finding activities to keep yourself constantly occupied can add stress, especially if you’re not in the mood for it. Take some time to disconnect and engage in activities that aren’t necessarily productive but can be good for the soul, like cuddling with your pet or taking a long shower.
After all, a little daydreaming is good every now and then.
Bonus: Remind yourself why you’re doing this
Staying at home is the most effective way to reduce the risk of spreading the virus but as meaningful as it is, it’s not always easy. But it’s important to remind yourself why this is important in the long run.
Try and reframe how you think of being at home and the activities you do. Learn to see how this action can help save lives and speed up the recovery process. Having this mindset can make the act of staying at home more meaningful when you’re actively thinking about the greater good it does.
Create reminders such as notes on the mirror or insert it in your morning affirmations. Staying home is a sacrifice we’re actively making for the good of loved ones around you. When the going gets tough, you’ll have these small reminders that can help make you feel a little bit better.
Feelings of boredom can sometimes be a good reminder for us to keep our mind and body active. However, it’s important to know when to make changes when it starts to affect you negatively. Our days are going to continue to look different for a while, so we need to remain flexible to best handle the situation.