Boredom: Maintaining Health and Wealth

Imagine this: you’re self-quarantined at home, watching “The Office” for the 25th time (one of Matt’s favorites). The characters and their jokes don’t make you laugh as hard, so you get up and decide to:

a. Find some comfort foods to snack on.
b. Indulge in your favorite alcoholic beverage.
c. Find your vape/light a cigarette and smoke.
d. Go to bed and sleep.

Regardless of your choice, there is a high chance you’ve run into your old friend boredom again.

Like it or not, our lives been placed on an indefinite time-out with no signs of ending anytime soon. Unfortunately, that means: no dates, sports, social gatherings with family and friends, springtime festivals and events – nothing. There are those who are fortunate to work remotely from home, attend to either online class work or household chores, but after that’s done, what’s left?

Boredom is a common response that’s experienced when we’re feeling restless. It makes us feel sluggish, tired, and puts us into this mindset where we need to do something to change our moods and become focused or satisfied. However, it’s also when we attempt turning to ineffective habits to cure ourselves of those experiences; namely, sleep, food and substances like alcohol, smoking or illicit drugs.

While seemingly harmless, it only takes a few instances before it starts to affect your health. Your e-cigarette, drink, or snack, while fun and/or tasty, exposes your lungs, digestive system, kidneys, etc. to harm due to consistent usage and lowered moderation because of boredom. You gain a few pounds, lose muscle tone and strength, your immune system becomes compromised – leading you to possible risk of contracting COVID-19, and who wants that?

Here are some tips to help with curving boredom:

1. Implement time management skills!

Schedule your boredom breaks; how long they’ll be, what you’ll do, and try balancing it with tasks you have to complete.

2. Start new hobbies!

Whether it be learning the basic of a new language, how to cook, new workouts, or how to even practice time management (future entry about this subject coming soon), find something to invest in and commit!

3. Monitor distractions!

There’s nothing wrong with indulging in your favorite vices, but they are vices for a reason – check in with yourself about why you may be indulging in certain distractions; initially, the answer is “Because, I’m bored…” but there may be something underlying that’s not being acknowledged as well.

Effective Health Practices Concerning Nutrition

Ineffective health practices during the COVID-19 quarantine is something many are struggling with at this time. Below are some resources that offer tips and information about why these trends (overeating, alcohol/tobacco/marijuana consumption) occurs, and how to prevent major risks from occurring. 

This article and news clip discuss the importance of staying healthy and avoiding overeating while staying home with the ability to snack all day. A clinical dietician was interviewed suggested that setting up a routine or structure to the day, even while at home, can be really beneficial for healthy eating patterns. Giving yourself a moment to breathe and ask if you are really hungry, or just bored or stressed before reaching for something to eat can also be helpful. 

This article discusses how stress can affect our eating habits and offers five tips for curbing emotional eating. People often tend to crave foods higher in fat and sugar when stressed, which is why it may be more tempting to reach for a bag of chips than a piece of fruit. 

The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics website is a useful resource for staying aware of healthy practices through the Coronavirus pandemic. It has links for nutrition, health, fitness, recipes, and information for staying healthy with kids and general tips in a few different categories. It also has links for social media resources. There is a short article called “How to a Keep Your Immune System Healthy” that points out a few important things to think about, like keeping good hygiene and getting enough nutrients, and lists out nutrients and the foods where we can get those. 

Here’s some information linking mental health and nutrition. This site also has some helpful tips when buying food and what people can look for again. It also has some helpful alternatives and information if people want to make easy changes to their diet that will help nutrition. 

This article provides information on how unregulated marijuana consumption can affect our immune system. While it is difficult to link marijuana usage to the concerns regarding our body’s ability to maintain its strength and healing, studies have found that both marijuana and tobacco smoke are similar; demonstrating an impairment with respiratory function.

This article shares concerns from health care experts regarding the act of self-medication to ease loneliness, stress and boredom during this pandemic. A must-read to stay informed!

Content provided by:

Matthew N. Caston, Jr., M.A., LPC
Mary Johnson, Counseling Intern
Brooke Kochevar, Counseling Intern