In September 2019, I welcomed my daughter into the world. I felt so happy but also lonely and isolated.
I kept busy with baby classes and mum catch-ups, but I missed my friends from BC (Before Child) and going to the theatre and socialising.
Then the pandemic forced everyone to self-isolate. I joked that I’d been self-isolating since having a child so my life hadn’t changed too much. But as I read about people’s struggles with loneliness, depression, boredom and anxiety, I realised how similar our situations were.
Boredom breeds bad behaviours
The worst thing about self-isolating: you have all the time in the world to sit around AND THINK! When you ruminate, you tend to overthink or obsess about situations or life events, which could make you feel more anxious and worried without actually solving the problem.
Being bored can affect your mental health so it’s important to ensure that when negative thoughts surface, you take action to stop them making your life a misery.
Here are my top tips to fight boredom and negativity.
1 Change rooms
If you’re on the sofa and a negative thought pops into your mind, go into another room in your house. The physical and mental shift will help you to change your mindset. Even making a cup of tea or showering will take your mind off things and reset your thought pattern.
2 Acknowledge your thoughts
Our minds are drawn to difficult and unpleasant thoughts, so if a destructive or negative thought pops into your mind, give yourself a set amount of time to allow the thought to fester before letting it go.
For example, give yourself five minutes to feel unhappy, depressed, cry, scream into a pillow, but when five minutes are up, move on. By acknowledging your negative thoughts you can challenge them and move on, removing their power to hurt.
3 Practice gratitude
Gratitude has been linked to improved wellbeing. Every night, write down three reasons to be grateful such as having read a funny article or shared a virtual coffee with a friend or colleague. Paying attention to good things and writing them down helps lift your mood and stops negative thoughts gaining a foothold.
4 Fake it till you make it
Smiling has been proved to lift your mood, which makes you feel happier. Even faking a smile activates the face muscles that make your body think you’re happy. It’s easy to do, so why not give it a go!
5 Don’t procrastinate – rejuvenate
Use the time you would have been commuting to work to do something around the house such as getting rid of old clothes or sorting through boxes from your move three years ago. You will declutter your mind and feel a sense of achievement. You will feel lighter and think more clearly.
6 Feed your mind
Feeling ‘stuck’ can affect your happiness so feed your mind and never stop growing! Often the happiest people are those that do something outside their comfort zone and keep themselves busy with new activities. Learn a new skill online, write a book or do something creative like painting or poetry.
7 Embrace online opportunities
Get online and embrace all the pub quizzes, comedy nights, book clubs, yoga classes, choirs and running clubs that have gone virtual. If you want to meet like-minded people, websites like www.meetup.com can also help.
Daily habits can lead to happiness and balance during self-isolation. So reframe your thinking because in the words of Wayne Dyer, author of Happiness is the Way. “When you change the way you look at things, the things you look at change.”
Karen Farrell MIWFM is facilities manager at Turner & Townsend