Since the last week of January 2020, Chinese cities have been in lockdown in an attempt to curb the spread of the coronavirus. Singapore has one of the highest coronavirus infections outside of China besides Japan and Thailand. With more than 500 people in quarantine in the island state since the beginning of February, what can be done to relieve frustrations and boredom arising from the quarantine due to the coronavirus?
In China, stories of mixed nationality families being separated due to the coronavirus quarantine have experienced anxiety, depression, and frustration. For many others, being trapped at home for 14 days with no outside contact has bred boredom. This includes the passengers aboard the Princess Diamond who are battling infection worries, travel ban and boredom due to the 14 days quarantine. Though many people quarantined in Wuhan has shared humourous posts on social media to relieve the boredom of being trapped indoors, what else can be done to relieve these uncomfortable feelings of anxiety and boredom?
Boredom is not unique that it only arises as a consequence of the coronavirus quarantine. Most of us only have one solution for the feeling of boredom – and that is to find a distraction. In fact, distraction is the only technique we have for battling not only boredom but also depression, anxiety, and frustration.
But let’s focus on boredom. Do you know what is boredom? Is it a feeling? If there is a word to describe the feelings of boredom how would you describe it? How does your breath feel when boredom seeps into you? Do you feel a narrow type of breathing or an open and relaxed breath? Does boredom come with a sinking feeling? Most of us, justify doing or wanting to get something, with the aim to escape boredom, and we are never questioned by anybody on what exactly is boredom and how it makes us feel.
After identifying the sensations caused by boredom in our bodies to how it makes us feel, perhaps we can look deeper into why there is an urge to escape from this feeling? A useful technique would be to for once, stop running away from boredom and to befriend it. A great way to befriend boredom is to stay with it by sitting down in a quiet spot to understand it – understand the feelings and sensations it creates in our body, and to understand the thoughts created by boredom to make us want to run away towards distraction.
If you aren’t afraid of boredom, try to close your eyes and place your attention on feelings created by what we call boredom. Instead of running away, stay with this feeling of being bored and just watch it gently, as you would care for a puppy that is easily distracted or yelping in distress. Watch how it changes and observe for yourself if boredom would calm down with this technique. Then gently open your eyes after watching it pass, and understand how you feel now as opposed to how you felt earlier.
This is a technique of being mindful of your feelings and getting to know yourself better. When we make it a habit to become aware of how we feel, we can manage our feelings better. There are many secular mindfulness courses out there where you learn techniques to know yourself. But remember, it ultimately lies in your decision, of whether you would like to live a life more aware of your inner workings or to spend a lifetime running away from unpleasant feelings.