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In uncertain times, it’s natural to feel troubled, anxious, scared and, yes, even bored. After all, you’re stuck inside staring at the same walls day in and day out while all around you, the number of coronavirus cases climbs. You try to stay strong, but there’s only so much bread you can make and Netflix you can watch before your head swims with the repetition of it all.
I’ll laugh right along with you as you change from “day pajamas” to your “night pajamas,” but I would like to offer another perspective on boredom, and a promise: I will not complain about being bored during this coronavirus quarantine, no matter how many months the lockdown drags on. The way I see it, being bored is a luxury.
Bored means I’m healthy, free of symptoms of disease and breathing easily — unlike my cousin, who said she felt the pressure around her neck like “being strangled” and on her chest like “someone was trying to break into my rib cage … and pull my lungs out.”
Bored means I’m not seeing friends in person, or feeling the closeness of physical affection because I’m social distancing and washing my hands, acts that keep everyone safe.
Bored means my stomach isn’t knotted tight with worry over a friend or family member hospitalized with COVID-19, like hundreds of thousands of families are experiencing right now, helpless to comfort or heal.
Bored means I’m not grieving the loss of a loved one, like one friend with two hospitalized parents. Her father died, her mother lived. And now her family must mourn alone.
Bored means I’m not increasing my own risk of exposure in overworked, undersupplied hospitals or on the front lines of grocery stores, shipping warehouses, package or food delivery routes and all the other essential businesses that keep people fed and in supply of basic needs.
Bored means I have clothes on my back, a roof over my head and food on the table. It means I’m still employed, unlike the 22 million US residents who have now filed for unemployment assistance in the past five weeks. It means I’m not wondering how I’ll afford groceries, next month’s rent, the car needed for short-but-necessary trips and any life-prolonging medication.
Bored means I’m not struggling to educate and entertain children who are now cooped up indoors being homeschooled. It means the relationships in my household and in my life aren’t strained to the point of snapping. Bored means my mental wellbeing is hanging in there and the walls are not yet closing in.
Bored is a blessing I gratefully accept. It is an opportunity to challenge myself, to occupy my time in new ways, to make my home life rich with meaning. And bored can become unbored. So long as quarantine is necessary to stay healthy and safe, “bored” is the best I can hope for.
Ideas and tools to unbore yourself in quarantine
Volunteer remotely, help restaurants, make donations. Make homemade cloth masks for hospitals or friends. Learn to cook really well with what you have. Host Zoom, Skype, FaceTime or other video chat happy hours and meetups (while preventing Zoombombing). Entertain yourself for free and even more ways to stay entertained. Join an online community and get a dose of virtual culture. Devote yourself to your indoor pet. Make Star Wars crafts with your kids (or your inner child). Build a garden and grow your own food, like vegetables. Let your Google Home entertain you or your Amazon Echo make you laugh.