Boredom in quarantine is okay. Here’s why.
by Matthew Burgos
Photo by Joshua Rawson-Harris on Unsplash
I’m working from home and studying for my university exams in Italy. Between the finger-tapping on my keyboard and the rustling sound of the books I read when I flip them, there’s nothing much to do, but gaze at the chip on my yellow-painted wall. The lack of activities has me looking forward to what to eat for dinner, but this monotonicity can’t go on. I open a new tab on my laptop and start to brush up on my Italian.
Being sheltered at home sounds like a picture-perfect time to reconnect with ourselves, but the appeal starts to wear off once it has become a routine. What catches us off guard is the persistent hair-tangling sensation of boredom. It almost sounds impossible, not when a deluge means of entertainment is right at our fingertips. There are long lists of activities to tick off, but even the classic go-to activities such as yoga, making pizza and bread, or reading books lose their vibrant colors once we’re not in the mood to do them.
Photo by Tonny Tran on Unsplash
COVID-19 has made us realize how overstimulated we are. Without the pandemic, we’d be off in a rush to devour our breakfast without sitting, put on our uniforms, twist our wrist to check the time in case we’re running late, then close the front door and wouldn’t see what our home looks like until late at night. The fast-paced environment we're in has become normalized that our personal culture depends on it. We breathe the air it produces.
Passive activities have no special place in the heart of a cosmopolitan-driven enthusiast. The rhythmic finger-tapping on our desk, chin on the palm of our hand, and inside-cheek biting prove just that. An exception there is one of our favorite monotonous activities that has turned into an artificial friend, feeding our boredom: screentime. Our online consumption keeps us on our feet and tells us we’re doing just fine; we’re still productive.
Hitting “likes” on TikTok videos and Instagram travel pictures pose an excuse why we’re far from boredom. What’s there to fear in doing nothing? Contrary to what others believe, we can come across with benefits from being bored. If we look past our smartphones and social media apps, there’s productivity in sitting still and staring at the wall: it forces us to be creative.
Photo by David Levêque on Unsplash
Tapping into our creativity might sound exhaustive on a busy day, but once we let our restraints flow and ease those taut shoulders by breathing out, our creative personas might just burst forth. How about if we’re stuck in a room with nothing else to do? There are studies that have delved into the upsides of being bored. The reigning regime in the throne points directly at daydreaming.
Daydreaming is to let our minds wander where it wants to. It’s an act of freeing our thoughts and allowing these conjured ideas guide us to what’s up on our next-activity list. It’s how we find our light-bulb moment after staring outside the windows, or hours of biting the insides of our cheeks. It’s the missing paragraph to that essay we need to submit later this evening. It’s the structured, well-balanced solution to bridge the gap of our next business strategy. It’s the powerful tool we need to wield to twist boredom to our benefit.
Thinking about daydreaming seems easy, but knocking on our boredom’s door isn’t. The intentional meditating activities are far from stirring ennui. Since it’s on purpose, there’s a possibility we won’t achieve the crescendo we’re aiming for. What’s required to unleash the boredom in us is to pick up activities that begs for little to no concentration at all, shredding to death any force of distractions. Knitting, gardening, coloring, or doodling can solve that.
Photo: Creative Thoughts by Wix
Since we’ve put “force of distractions” on the table, unplugging ourselves from the online world counts in there too. Since the internet has a variety of entertainment to offer, we’re fading from the core idea of daydreaming. Swiping left and right and double-tapping for likes aren’t helping the creativity gush in our mind, but rather barricade the playful and imaginative version of us.
Once the sensation of daydreaming dawns in us, the limitless ideas flow right out of our mind. They jump from one to another in a seamless operation, and our mission is to be aware enough to grab it before it disappears. Nobody wants to face frustration once an amazing idea presents itself unguardedly to us and we’re not there to pick it up. Then, beyond daydreaming, there’s this small voice that pushes us to solve ennui creatively. Our next step is to find out how to maximize the idea that we have at hand to fire up our creative side and stomp on our boredom.
Photo by Nikita Kachanovsky on Unsplash
On one sunny Spring day, I have been staring at the trees outside my apartment from the balcony. Their leaves, part yellow-green and part brown-ish, have witnessed the lockdown, I think. As I observe the gentle sway of the leaves, cross-legged and with a cup of hot cocoa on my lap, the idea of finding solace in the arms of a language doesn’t sound apocalyptic at all.
Let’s see how long I’ll last in this repackaged interest.
About the author:
Matthew Burgos is currently a student in Milan, Italy and comes from the Phillippines. He doesn’t talk to people. He interviews them then writes their story, peppering the narratives with descriptive words. He’s a student of Broadcast Journalism, International Relations, and Law, an English tutor, an aspiring journalist, and a die-hard, 90% dark chocolate glutton.