Lessons in Lockdown #2 — How to NOT be bored

Credits: Bill Watterson

What time is it? It’s Bore ‘o’ clock!

Sorry for the poor joke.

But you know when the mind is bored, it is slow. Like an obese sloth bear, on anesthesia, on a Monday morning. Time stretches. No motivation. I keep hoping that the sloth gets some juicy fodder in the forest of internet, lest she slip into a coma. I am not totally wrong.

I open my social media apps for the 457th time today. I swear I almost miss those dramatic pre-wedding photoshoots that invaded my facebook wall before the quarantine. News is worse. Donald is wondering out loud what would happen if people are injected with disinfectant. Everyone is laughing. Poor guy is in wrong place. In India, if a self-styled baba were to say this, testimonials on this miraculous drug would be floating in Whatsapp. But yes, news is bad even otherwise. Many news channels seem to inspired by reality shows, with their ostentation growing day by day. It is often framed to focus on the negative. Neither the doomed predictions of dramatic news, nor the cringeworthy adventures of the covidiots make it any easier on you. So keep the dosage to no more than twice a day.

If you are bored, check the fridge instead, like I do.

No, wait.

Don’t do that either. Quarantine boredom can be harmful to your mind, your pocket and your arteries. I am a big time snacking junkie. I can eat and drink just because I need a filler, like the background music or a popcorn during movie time. I would have effortlessly put on weight had I not forced my mid meal cravings into slowly sipping green tea. For once, the marketing guys are right. Green tea does make you feel light, because you are no longer weighed down by the guilt of your munching.

As someone who would step out for a cuppa or a walk in the park on dull evenings, this calls for an adjustment. With limited entertainment options, I think I get what Sia meant when she said she doesn’t need dollar bills to have fun tonight. She must have written the song during some quarantine. But dollar bills can buy an Xbox or a home theatre. So, joke’s on you, Sia.

Does this mean the sloth gets to stay? Nope.

Some scientists say that boredom is the beginning of a genius. They could be true. Like when the sloth finds a calling and metamorphoses into a horse. But that is hardly a reason for me to justify the dullness. So, what can help?

The problem is not of the precious lost seconds, rather of waning interest in things. When we were kids, weren’t we easily curious about a new thing we just discovered. As adults, it seems we are picky and complicated. But not really.

Imagine the bored mind is our confused sloth hanging upside down on its tree. She is not happy with the current tree but there are options available. Every tree in the rainforest is potential fodder. Will she keep brooding over how mundane this tree is or will she move on? How does she do it? She forces herself to sit upright and glance at the other trees, maybe even climb some. Or she might pick up her laptop and write this sloth metaphor, which, if you realize, can suit admirably as advice to moving on from obsessing over ex-es.

The trigger should be self-induced. Curiosity is a very powerful trigger. Desire for self-improvement could be another. A lot of people have tried the dalgona coffee. Many are reading, or trying arts and do-it-yourself. It is not necessary to do only productive things. The trigger is more important that the outcome. One of my friends is fully into memes nowadays. Another one has decided he will watch all movies in IMDB International top 20, with subtitles and review them. A third friend is dancing at the solitary confinement of her home. My extended family likes to play Ludo online (So Ludo has been fueling family feuds since the time of Mahabharata). I myself have decided to learn Chinese but gave up 2 days later. The language seems pretty complicated and funny at the same time (A sneeze could have made sense in Mandarin). Meanwhile, even my tech-averse mother, enjoys her candy crush and sudoku apps when she is bored. When both of us are bored together, we watch Youtube videos on 1.75x or speak gibberish with Siri. It’s fun.

It is not necessary to fight the boredom every time it visits. Sometimes it is okay to keep hanging upside down on the tree. Your interest can wane and you can’t control it. So, watch a couple of shitty shows, play games, rediscover the joy of reading, record yourself on Tiktok, take a course, write something, de-clutter your phone, but don’t stop being curious and proactive. And, of course, don’t go out (You may not die of boredom, but there’s a pretty good chance if you step out). If you are on facebook and like knowing things, I recommend following Aeon, What if, Language nerds, mad over marketing, 5-minute crafts, IFL science, Ted and Brain pickings. And of course, ahem, my short reads.

Because, once your interest is re-kindled, it just keeps compounding. With promising returns.

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Divya Saroja

Divya Saroja


Optimist, dreamer and jack of few trades. I love to write about the creative and the mundane, the obvious and the subtle, and everything in between.