Beating boredom - 7 ways to stay busy at home
By: Ryan Jay
07 Apr 2020
In these unprecedented times, many of us are spending our days in the confinement of our own homes. What were once sanctums of relaxation are now starting to feel a lot different. It’s easy for those four walls to start feeling closer as cabin fever settles in.
But it’s not all doom and gloom. As we take on our responsibility to isolate from one another, it still holds true that we’ve never been more connected. And with the power of technology, there are plenty of new things we can take on to stave off boredom and (dare we say it) make the most of the extra time. To get you started, here are seven tips to resist restlessness during social distancing.
Keep in touch
We humans crave interaction. It’s wired into our DNA. Once it’s taken away, it’s easy for us to feel stir crazy as we pine for the social contact we regularly had with family, friends and loved ones.
That’s why it’s essential to use technology to stay connected. While we can’t grab a coffee with a friend or take the kids to see grandparents, there are plenty of video chat apps like WhatsApp and FaceTime that open up a world of connectivity. And the best part? These apps are evolving to be more than a face on a screen. Many platforms such as Houseparty and Zoom are introducing in-app games and quirks to help us pass the time from the comfort of our own homes.
Stay moving, stay healthy
The mental health benefits of exercise are well-documented. It's why many of us feel helpless by staying at home, as it puts the brakes on our active lifestyles. But while gyms and fitness clubs are out of the question for now, there’s still plenty you can do at home to get your fitness fix and stay healthy in body and mind.
The World Health Organisation recommends that we do 150 minutes of moderate-intensity, 75 minutes of vigorous-intensity, or a combination of both each week. That may seem tricky without the dependence of your usual routine. But you can still achieve your fitness goals at home, with no special equipment and limited space. The trick is short bursts. Playing with the kids, cleaning or performing other household chores all add up, so make sure you make the time to be on your feet and moving around.
For something more regimented, there are plenty of online tools and classes to take advantage of. TV presenter and fitness coach Joe Wicks recently kicked off daily PE lessons on his YouTube channel, so why not start there with the kids? And for the more experienced gym goers, a quick google search will yield plenty of options that cater for all different exercise regimes. Our favourites include Yoga with Adrienne, which caters for all levels, be it complete beginner or seasoned yogini, and FitnessBlender, a husband and wife team who have more than 600 free full-length workout videos to help you improve your health, quality of life, and body.
A (sensible) use of outside space
Advice on leaving the home has been confusing at best, but you can still safely socially distance while exercising in outdoor spaces. That includes jogging, cycling, or even going for long walks. Dedicated periods of exercise will help break the monotony, so make sure you use them wisely but cautiously. The key thing is to be sensible:
- Limit yourself to only one trip outside per day
- You need to keep at least two metres apart from others
- Avoid any large gatherings (three people or more) unless they’re members of your household
Of course, if you have a garden you needn’t worry about such restrictions. This is your space, and the rules that apply in your home apply here as well. With summer on the way and the weather becoming warmer, your own outside space will be important for mind, body and soul. And be honest with yourself. If you’re not going to weed the garden now, when are you ever going to get it done?
Get stuck into some DIY
Speaking of home maintenance, DIY is an excellent way to kill time. Found yourself lamenting the dingy floor and the faded paint on your living room walls? Now’s the perfect opportunity to get your overalls on and spruce up the place.
If you’re not feeling up for a long-term project, you can still kill time with odd jobs around the home. This will keep you busy and help improve your living space. The best bit is that the smallest job can be an ideal catalyst for bigger things. For example, let's start things off with an extra shelf in the kitchen. Looks great! And now that’s done, you might as well re-grout the kitchen tiles. Wow, check out how much better that looks! Now it's time to get that sink unblocked, and properly this time. And so on. Start small and you never know where it’ll take you. Just make sure you’re checking online for the jobs that you need guidance on.
We always tell ourselves that one day we’ll sit down and learn a new skill. But naturally, there’s never time. Well, guess what? Now we have all the time in the world! And with all the resources available to us in the palm of our hands, taking up a new skill, hobby or even that second language you tried to learn at school has never been easier.
A good place to start is YouTube. Whatever you’re looking to pick up, chances are there are dozens of YouTube tutorials available to get you started. But beyond YouTube there are entire apps dedicated to new skills or hobbies. Take Duolingo, a language learning app that specialises in short bursts. Or Mimo, a coding app that offers free starter classes on the basics of programming and data science. There are so many options available, so the best approach is to jump in and see what takes your fancy.
Make time for quiet time
Ok, doing nothing might seem like a counteractive suggestion to fighting boredom. But meditation harnesses the concept of doing nothing into a positive knock-on effect. Introduce it into your daily routine and you’ll feel more focused, less stressed and far better equipped to deal with periods of isolation.
Headspace is a great place to start if you’re completely new to meditation. It's scientifically-backed to have a positive impact on your mental wellbeing and your physical health. It's free to try, and you can choose how long you dedicate to each session, so it fits around your schedule. And the best bit about meditation? It’s a skill in itself, so taking it up will be another form of bettering yourself.
Establish a routine
There’s a common misconception that a monotonous routine can cause boredom. But it’s the activities themselves that lead to abject humdrum. Doing things we don’t want to do can also cause stress and despondency. So, as bleak as it may seem, maximising the time we’re now spending at home has never been more important.
But make sure you take it slow. It isn’t realistic to take on five new hobbies, clock in hours of exercise a day and reinvent your home, all in the space of a month or two. Choose a select few activities that you think will interest and galvanise you the most. And then stick to them. This routine will make the time go a lot quicker and instill a positive behavioural change that will stay with you once normality resumes.