Coping with boredom during coronavirus lockdown
During the first couple of weeks of self-isolation lockdown, when the novelty and our motivation was high, many of us were busy doing things around the house that had needed our attention for a while.
These activities helped to distract us from the intense reality of what we were experiencing at that time. Now that we were are well and truly into this new way of being, and the newness of the situation is fading, we are much more likely to be experiencing boredom as another emotion affecting us and our children at this time.
Boredom is an emotional state that most of us initially find difficult due to the lack of stimulation that we experience. This leaves us yearning for something to happen to relieve the feeling of emotional unease. It is also a sign to us that something is not how we would like things to be.
There can be many reasons why we are more prone to boredom at times.
Sometimes, we disconnect with our emotions which leads to us to feeling nothing other than switched off or bored in the moment. It can also occur when there is conflict between what we want to do or could be doing, and what we are doing. This kind of boredom is the result of monotony and repetition. It is the kind of boredom we will all be feeling, now that our choices and pleasurable pastimes are being restricted. As human beings we crave newness and excitement, as otherwise it can lead to feelings of restlessness.
However, boredom can be a valuable emotional state as it gives us the opportunity to do what we want to do, rather than what we must do. This is especially important for our children. Boredom can lead to creativity, imaginative curiosity, spontaneity and widening of our interests and experiences. It can also help us to ground ourselves in the moment and engage with the present as fully as possible. This can lead to flow, one of the healthiest psychological states. Flow happens when we lose track of time by being completely immersed in the moment.
Interestingly, in Chinese philosophy, it is thought that if we stick with boredom and move through it, we will be rewarded with fascination. Hopefully for all of us, we can test out this theory over the time we have ahead and realise that boredom isn’t the enemy, but a friend that can teach us so much.
Top tips for dealing with feelings of boredom:
Notice feelings of boredom in yourself and your children. Label them.
Describe feelings fully to help you connect with them further if needed
Use this emotional intelligence to do something that will boost your mood, e.g.
looking at photographs of loved ones, baking something delicious or doing an
If we label boredom as a negative emotion, then we will feel negative feelings.
Instead, reframe boredom as positive opportunity to find, learn or do
something you really want to do and not what you always have to do
Do something new. This brings feelings of excitement that we all crave when
our behaviours and habits are becoming overly repetitive. Even mixing up
your daily routine adds a twist of newness
Allow children to experiment with new experiences to find out what they enjoy
Get curious, creative and imaginative. You never what you might enjoy until
you try it!
Try to tap into your core values and what is important to you. Boredom can
really help to motivate us to switch our focus, attention and future goals which
can help with improved feelings of well-being now and in the future.
By Andrea ChattenFounder and Lead Children's Emotional & Behavioural Psychologist at Sheffield’s Unravel and author of The Blinks novels supporting children's well-being