Dealing With Boredom
As we have been forced to deal with lockdowns and told to quarantine, boredom is a phrase that has surfaced in the media and in the PD community. Fortunately, in a few weeks, the nation will begin reopening. However, this will take time, particularly for those living in regions where there are more cases of people affected by COVID-19.
Are you feeling bored?
So first, what is boredom? It is an inward restless feeling or compulsion to do something, but the problem is that nothing satisfies that urge because nothing really motivates or compels us. The result is a feeling of being stuck in limbo.
Another contributing factor to boredom is that many of us associate living to doing- if we are not spending every second of the day on some activity – somehow, we feel we are missing out. Anyone else guilty of this besides me?
In order to get unstuck and get rid of boredom, we must first have self-awareness. We must start paying attention to our body’s reactions to things as well as to our feelings. In my book, Parkinson’s Diva, Hello Possibilities, I outline that setting good boundaries is the key to living a successful life with any illness. This entails saying ‘yes’ to good things and ‘no’ to bad things – do not forget that even good things can cause harm.
Sitting quietly with our boredom is a good start – let it sip in and permeate our inner being until the root of the cause finds its way out of our subconscious mind.
The cause of our boredom
Perhaps what is causing the feelings of the need to flee and do something, anything, is the stress of having lost a loved one recently or having a spouse working in the front lines, or being away from our parents during this crucial time, or even the fear of what will happen if we get sick? All very heart-wrenching situations. But particularly if our personalities tend to avoid confrontation or deal with things head-on, we might be feeling the urge to do something more than ever before. Being cooped up only accentuates this restless feeling called boredom.
Often the feelings of restlessness and their cause are unconscious for most of us. Thus, a time out to do some quiet reflection might help us deal with the symptoms of boredom. If nothing pops up, go down the list evaluating circumstances and family situations, slowly turning your attention to each area in your life (work, family, marriage, etc...) for a plausible answer. If none is found, look inward as to what you are avoiding. You might avoid contact or communication with loved ones because you are afraid they might be sick or in trouble.
Releasing negative emotions
Two ways I found to help release some of those negative emotions is through journaling and through communication with a close friend. As you write, unleash the fears and allow them to surface. Acknowledge the feelings and understand that they are part of you and cannot hurt you unless you allow them to. Once you bring the anxieties and negative feelings to the surface you can allow them to direct your action plans to move forward.
For others, boredom may be a sign of depression and for those of us with PD and other chronic illnesses, this is an important factor to be aware of in yourself as well as in loved ones.
If you are experiencing any of these 4 symptoms below, boredom may be a sign of something more serious like depression and you may need to contact a physician ASAP.
- Feeling sad
- Feeling hopeless
- Feelings of self-deprecation (i.e. thinking boredom is your fault)
- Evading opportunities that will stimulate (such as refusing to partake with the rest of the family in movie night, or refusing to talk to friends)
If it's not depression then think of activities that will help deal with unsettled feelings or help you work through them. I already mentioned two things above.
But before you start, take time out for yourself to reflect. In these times it may be harder to do this because we have kids at home all day or spouses working from home. Even if it is at midnight, find a niche for yourself. Get comfortable with your thoughts and being in your own skin. It takes practice, I know.
Then you may take up activities like writing letters to your friends, parents, friends etc... Get creative and bake some cookies for your neighbors (I just learned how to make banana nut bread and am sharing with everyone). Write a letter to your future self or to your future grandkids of what it was like during this time.
Contrary to popular belief we do not have to be constantly doing things to feel alive. In fact, I find that after a nice relaxed time I am much more efficient, effective, productive, and much more alive and excited about things. I would recommend not fretting over feeling bored and rather enjoy it unless there are signs of depression. You might even be surprised, like I was, to find the freedom it brings.
Which of the following caffeinated beverages do you regularly consume?