Why you should embrace the quarantine boredom: The alternative is far worse

Commentary: Coronavirus stay at home measures can fray your nerves. But being bored makes you one of the lucky ones.

Jessica Dolcourt Senior Editorial Director, Content Operations
Jessica Dolcourt is a passionate content strategist and veteran leader of CNET coverage. As Senior Director of Content Operations, she leads a number of teams, including Thought Leadership, Speed Desk and How-To. Her CNET career began in 2006, testing desktop and mobile software for Download.com and CNET, including the first iPhone and Android apps and operating systems. She continued to review, report on and write a wide range of commentary and analysis on all things phones, with an emphasis on iPhone and Samsung. Jessica was one of the first people in the world to test, review and report on foldable phones and 5G wireless speeds. Jessica led CNET's How-To section for tips and FAQs in 2019, guiding coverage of topics ranging from personal finance to phones and home. She holds an MA with Distinction from the University of Warwick (UK).
Expertise Content strategy, team leadership, audience engagement, iPhone, Samsung, Android, iOS, tips and FAQs.
Jessica Dolcourt
3 min read

Embrace boredom. It's good for you.

Josh Miller/CNET

In uncertain times, it's natural to feel troubled, anxious, scared and, yes, even bored. After all, you're stuck inside staring at the same walls day in and day out while all around you, the number of coronavirus cases climbs. You try to stay strong, but there's only so much bread you can make and Netflix you can watch before your head swims with the repetition of it all. 

I'll laugh right along with you as you change from "day pajamas" to your "night pajamas," but I would like to offer another perspective on boredom, and a promise: I will not complain about being bored during this coronavirus quarantine, no matter how many months the lockdown drags on. The way I see it, being bored is a luxury.

Bored means I'm healthy, free of symptoms of disease and breathing easily -- unlike my cousin, who said she felt the pressure around her neck like "being strangled" and on her chest like "someone was trying to break into my rib cage ... and pull my lungs out."

Bored means I'm not seeing friends in person, or feeling the closeness of physical affection because I'm social distancing and washing my hands, acts that keep everyone safe.

Bored means my stomach isn't knotted tight with worry over a friend or family member hospitalized with COVID-19, like hundreds of thousands of families are experiencing right now, helpless to comfort or heal. 

Bored means I'm not grieving the loss of a loved one, like one friend with two hospitalized parents. Her father died, her mother lived. And now her family must mourn alone

Bored means I'm not increasing my own risk of exposure in overworked, undersupplied hospitals or on the front lines of grocery stores, shipping warehouses, package or food delivery routes and all the other essential businesses that keep people fed and in supply of basic needs.

Our new reality now that coronavirus has sent the world online

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Bored means I have clothes on my back, a roof over my head and food on the table. It means I'm still employed, unlike the 22 million US residents who have now filed for unemployment assistance in the past five weeks. It means I'm not wondering how I'll afford groceries, next month's rent, the car needed for short-but-necessary trips and any life-prolonging medication.

Bored means I'm not struggling to educate and entertain children who are now cooped up indoors being homeschooled. It means the relationships in my household and in my life aren't strained to the point of snapping. Bored means my mental wellbeing is hanging in there and the walls are not yet closing in.

Bored is a blessing I gratefully accept. It is an opportunity to challenge myself, to occupy my time in new ways, to make my home life rich with meaning. And bored can become unbored. So long as quarantine is necessary to stay healthy and safe, "bored" is the best I can hope for.

Ideas and tools to unbore yourself in quarantine

For more ideas, look at CNET's tips and advice for thriving at home, and here's what not to do when quarantine ends.

The information contained in this article is for educational and informational purposes only and is not intended as health or medical advice. Always consult a physician or other qualified health provider regarding any questions you may have about a medical condition or health objectives.