Battling lockdown boredom with purpose and joy

Happy New Year! 2021 is finally here and with it comes expectations for a healthier, happier and more ‘normal’ year.

Here’s hoping that Lockdown 3.0 really is the last in the coronavirus trilogy and we don’t have to endure an ongoing franchise of disruptions to our daily lives. With the vaccine rolling out, hopefully like Frodo and Samwise in Lord of the Rings, we can overcome the odds and return to a restriction-free life.

Although we have more hope third time round, the impact of another lockdown can take its toll on our wellbeing. The monotony of Groundhog Day – great film, not so great in real life – can affect our mood, motivation and satisfaction with life. How can we get through this and keep our wellbeing afloat? All it takes is spending 15 minutes planning, so every day involves two things: something purposeful and something enjoyable.

Battling boredom

Sometimes, it can be good to be bored. Boredom can spark creativity and give our minds a rest from the constant comings and goings of everyday (pre-lockdown) life. However, the boredom experienced during lockdown tends to be more enduring. Nearly two-thirds of people in the UK were negatively impacted by boredom in the previous lockdowns, with life satisfaction, happiness and feeling worthwhile consistently lower and anxiety levels remaining higher than before the first lockdown.

Research has shown that boredom is linked with anxiety, depression, overeating and drug and alcohol abuse, so it’s essential we battle the boredom! Our usual resources of meeting friends, going to the cinema, group exercise and just changing our environment is not available at the moment, so we need to reflect on what gave us purpose and joy in the previous lockdowns and factor these into our days over the coming months.

The importance of purpose

Having a sense of purpose can really benefit our wellbeing, which you can read more about in this previous blog post. Feeling purposeful can result in:

  • Increased exercise and health-promoting behaviours
  • Feeling better about how we look
  • Feeling more satisfied with life
  • Better recovery from negative and stressful life events – so we could infer that doing something purposeful can help us cope better with the lockdown

How can we do something purposeful during lockdown? Well, it doesn’t have to be a huge, big, life-altering thing. It can be simple achievements such as:

  • Finally sending back the online delivery which doesn’t look right
  • Planting seeds or bulbs in the garden or in pots
  • Sorting out your home / car / pet insurance before it’s up for renewal
  • Cooking a recipe you’ve never tried before
  • Ticking off each item on your life admin list

Make joy a daily habit

Day to day joy and happiness can improve our mental wellbeing. This may sound obvious, but with so many of us experiencing, stress, anxiety and other negative emotions during lockdown, it can be hard to be happy. Feeling happy and joyful have multiple positive effects on our wellbeing such as having stronger relationships with others and increased life satisfaction.

We can increase feelings of happiness and joy during lockdown by:

  • Spending time in natural environments such as parks and forests
  • Being kind to others
  • Being near, in or under water. If you can’t make it to a lake or a beach, a simple bath or shower can also work
  • Exercising

This month’s activity

Above are just a few ideas on how to include something purposeful and joyful into our daily lives. However, before you start planning the days ahead, first think back to the previous two lockdowns. What gave you a sense of purpose or achievement? What brought you joy?

This month’s activity is to plan one purposeful and one enjoyable thing for each day, to help maintain your wellbeing through Lockdown 3.0 and finish the coronavirus trilogy a wellbeing hero. You can do this the night before, in the morning or you can plan one week at a time, whatever works for you. It shouldn’t take longer than 15 minutes. Give it a go and see what difference it makes to your wellbeing.

You don’t need a worksheet to complete this activity, but one is provided here in case you find it useful to work from. It includes space to jot down your plans for something purposeful and enjoyable over a 7-day period, as well as some questions to help you reflect.

I’d love to hear how you get on with eating incorporating purpose and joy into your day and the effect on your wellbeing. Please do get in touch 15minutewellbeing@gmail.com or comment in the box below.

I deliver online wellbeing workshops, so if that’s something that would benefit you or your organisation, please do not hesitate to get in touch.

I also share wellbeing-related research, news and stories on twitter and Instagram in between weekly blog posts so do follow @15minwellbeing on both platforms to keep up to date.

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