As I’m writing this, most of the United States is under stay-at-home orders from the government, thanks to Covid-19. Our lives have been upended. Each family has become homeschoolers overnight. Many people have lost their jobs. Some people have more time on their hands than they know what to do with; for others, time is no longer an abundant commodity.
Either way, I’ve heard the following statement from way too many children and adults: “#AmBored.”
Before you write me off as not understanding your situation or for not having something applicable to say for you, I beg you to read me out.
First of all, I believe we all need a change of adjectives because, quite frankly, you are not bored. I have three examples that should cover most of us because you’re something; bored ain’t it.
The news, social media, your friends, your mom—each one wants to be the first to blast you with gloom and doom and the latest tragedy. Not to make light, by any means; this pandemic is catastrophic, unreal and terrible. It is claiming lives and changing families forever. No one would debate those truths.
With that said, I think we would all agree that our information sources too often leap to relay the horrors; to the point that, those become the only things we can hear or think about or see. Numbers and curves and statistics are running through our minds quicker than a Nascar driver around the final lap. Images of patients on ventilators, caskets and bar graphs fill our dreams.
We are #Anxious. We’re worried and fearful and, perhaps, terrified.
When we allow fear to consume us and drive each action, we will remain enslaved to that emotion. Believe me, its only intent is to cripple us.
And so, if this is your adjective, I challenge you to turn off the TV, to stay away from social media, to not answer the phone. Do whatever you need to do to silence the voices of terror.
Take time to clear your mind. Journal (pen and paper, computer, audio) your emotions and fears. Get it all out. Don’t hold any of it in; cry, if that’s your style. Do whatever you need to walk away and leave those emotions behind you.
Move forward. You will need a daily clearing of your mind until this thing is over. Whenever you feel the anxiety rising, take a breath, close your eyes, clear your mind, journal out the thoughts … whatever it takes for you.
And then, you can’t put something off without putting something in its place. The Bible teaches us that (Colossians 3 is the best example). So, instead of dwelling on the statistics and the outcomes and the fear, think about all you have to be thankful for. Focus on your family. Meditate. Exercise. Bake. Listen to a podcast. Watch your favorite movie.
Put something in anxiety’s place, so it has no room to return.
Maybe anxious is not your adjective. Instead, you’ve been going 100 miles an hour since this all started. Maybe you’ve hit every grocery store and dollar store in a thirty–mile radius in order to get all the toilet paper you possibly can for your family, your extended family and your entire block. You’ve TPed every neighbor’s porch (in the best possible way) and made sure to disinfect your way there and back.
You’ve taken advantage of every free program online. You’re caught up on taxes, taken the equivalence of an online masters program and baked enough bread for your entire city.
Perhaps those examples don’t cover your situation.
Maybe instead you’re looking at the to-do list of this new “normal.” Perhaps you’ve got three kids—all school-age—each with varying needs and concerns. You’ve never taught a class of anything before, let alone all subjects for three very different students who also happen to live in the same house with you. Your husband got laid off. You don’t have those “three-months-plus-expenses” saved up (how many people actually do, right?) and you’re doing your best to feed your family of five on rice, dried beans and bread you have to make from scratch without yeast. On top of all the rest of that, you’re trying to figure out what you’ll do when this last roll of toilet paper is gone.
Maybe neither case fits you perfectly, but you’re definitely realizing overwhelmed is your adjective. It’s all just too much. Too much to accept or do or focus on. You may discover, at the root of this description, you’ve also got some anxiety pushing the envelope. You look at your list of things to do and you want to throw in the towel because it’s Just. Too. Much.
Maybe you realize your list is doable, but the worry combines with your responsibilities and you cannot focus on taking each task in turn.
Take some of the same tips from the first section and put them into play. Just stop what you’re doing, breathe, refocus or reprioritize. Maybe you need to journal and get some thoughts and emotions out. Maybe you need to go for a jog or take a nap or veg out until your mind is clear enough for you to evaluate your responsibilities and determine which is most important and which may just not be necessary right now.
You might discover five of those ten “must-get-dones” aren’t vital after all.
You’re not chewing your nails to the quick because you’re anxious. You’re not a whirlwind of unproductive energy. You’re like a school kid with spring fever … times a thousand.
The walls are closing in, and all you can think about are the things you can’t do. You spend an hour staring out the window, picturing all your favorite stores (that are closed) and the park (that’s closed) and the arcade (that’s closed) and your grocery store (with its bare shelves) and … you must be bored. Right?
The exact same tips from the previous adjectives apply, my friend! Clear your head, consider your responsibilities and decide each one’s priority. Then, get to it! One task at a time. If you find your focus slipping, go back to step one and get your mind back in the game.
Perhaps you’ve discovered your adjective. You’ve declared your current state of mind—#AmAnxious, #AmOverwhelmed, #AmRestless. Now it’s time to consider something else to put in their place.
I can hear your thoughts.
I thought we weren’t supposed to be bored? Isn’t standing still in the dictionary next to bored?
No, no it’s not.
What does it mean to be still? The first thing that comes to my mind when I hear these words is one of my favorite verses in the Bible, Psalm 46:10.
“Be still and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations. I will be exalted in the earth!”
Earlier, I suggested you meditate. For me, as a Christian, meditation is quiet time spent in prayer or reflection on scripture. An excellent passage to reflect on, especially right now in the midst of our current world chaos, would be all of Psalm 46.
Another great way to be still is to walk out into nature and just breathe, take in the beauty around you and give thanks for it. When I walk out my back door, I can be thankful for the fence that defines our yard and gives us a little privacy. I can sit on the patio and breathe in the smell of grass. I can look across the yard at our chickens and be thankful for the eggs they give us. I can pet my dogs and watch my kids play.
In those moments of stillness, I can give thanks. This is an action we can take as we switch out our adjectives and adjust our mindset from #Bored to what we really are (#AmAnxious, #AmOverwhelmed, #AmRestless) to a change of pace (#BeStill) to our end goal: #NotBored.
So, in all of these suggestions and tips, I hope you will be intentional about giving thanks. I’ve learned that when I’m seeking for things to be thankful for and then focusing on those things and the feeling of gratitude, it is so much harder to be anxious or overwhelmed or restless or bored.
Regardless of your adjective, you might discover you need a new activity to either provide you a diversion or to help you focus. Below you’ll find a list of 50 mind-healing activities for adults and 100 boredom-busting activities for kids. That second list comes to you from my two children!
Some words of caution: if you lean toward the #Overwhelmed side, this is not a list of 50 things you now must do because culture demands you “Seize the Time!” and fulfill your life’s potential. These are simply suggestions of things you can do to relieve the strain on your mind and emotions so that you may live a more well-balanced life during these unbalanced times. Some of them require more time than others. Those would be more fitting if you are anxious or restless. Others are simple tasks that can clear your mind in a matter of minutes. Some won’t interest you (and therefore won’t help); others may stir a passion within you or introduce you to something you never considered before. And, each activity should be considered in light of your current situation.
Whatever you choose to do (or not do) with these lists, I hope you choose to #BeStill and #GiveThanks and then declare yourself #NotBored!
50 Mind-healing Activities for Adults
- Take a walk.
- Take a steamy shower or relaxing bath.
- Allow your mind to wander and imagine something beautiful.
- Dig up a new recipe and try it out.
- Meditate on scripture.
- Read a book that’s been on your shelf far too long.
- Read a favorite book again.
- Watch your favorite movie.
- Watch a new movie you haven’t seen yet.
- Find courses or other online services your public library offers and utilize one or more!
- Write a letter to a friend you haven’t seen in a while.
- Take a mental vacation! Listen to the QWERTY Writing Life podcast, season 1, episode 46 for more information.
- Play dress-up or make-believe with your kids.
- Think of one thing you’ve always wanted to learn and determine if now is the time.
- Challenge yourself to get creative in the pantry and come up with a new recipe.
- Take the last challenge up a notch and get each family member involved. Who has the most creative dish? The tastiest? The most frugal?
- Play solitaire.
- Have a family board game night.
- Choose your favorite movie franchise and indulge in a marathon.
- Try your hand at writing something.
- Start a daily journal.
- Read through a book of the Bible or the entire Bible.
- Challenge yourself to make a list of things you’re thankful for or to make this a daily routine. Maybe it becomes part of your journaling routine—and you write something new every day that you are thankful for.
- Reconnect digitally with an old friend.
- Play “20 Questions” with your spouse or best friend or children. This time, make the questions all about them. Get to know them more!
- Research a new exercise you can do from home.
- Choose one drawer and spring clean it.
- Choose one closet and spring clean it.
- Clean out an entire room or attic or basement.
- Release your inner child and make a craft or color a picture.
- Research your family tree.
- Read an old diary.
- Call a family member or friend you haven’t talked to in a while just to say you love them.
- Make a list of acts of kindness you can do right now from your home.
- Send a thank you note for a kind word or a smile another person gave you.
- Help your child learn something new.
- Ask your spouse or child what they would love to learn, and then learn it with them!
- Find a way to thank the heroes in your community.
- Make your own movie. Get the family in on the fun. Write the script. Cast the parts. Design the set and costumes. And then, yell “Action!”
- Do something silly.
- Walk your dog.
- Make a new dessert and then enjoy it.
- Learn a new dance.
- Research another culture.
- Set goals for yourself in the next year.
- Make a bucket list.
- Listen to your favorite music.
- Listen to a song you haven’t heard in years.
- Make your own list, with you in mind!
100 Boredom-busting Activities for Kids
(#1-75 come from my 10-year-old son; #76-100 come from my 12-year-old daughter)
- Watch Star Wars at your house
- Make a mud igloo
- Play with logs
- Play with bricks
- Make a mega stooky (awesome in the Origami Yoda book series) fort
- Light a fire
- Light a fire using sticks only
- Light a fire using dried leaves and glasses only
- Go outside and scream real loud
- Put this in front of a mirror and say it as loud as possible: NOROM A MA I
- Go outside and yell: `Order Pizza!’
- Start a band
- Host an (online) party
- Make a hot dog stand
- Make a lemonade stand
- Jump rope
- Ride your bike
- Play basketball
- Play baseball
- Play soccer
- Join the FLYIN’ SPARKS BAND (If interested call XXX-XXX-XXXX)
- Play non-tackle football
- Play tackle football
- Play dodgeball
- Prank your friends
- Have a Nerf War
- Raid the pantry
- Commence attack on the Death Star
- Have a Star Wars Marathon
- Have a DC Marathon
- Make plans for Easter
- Fish from crawfish holes
- Make funny faces
- Annoy your siblings
- Make lunch
- Make dinner
- Make enchiladas
- Make a LEGO city
- Buy LEGO sets
- Stock up on Nerf guns
- Make a poem and annoy your sibling with it
- Get money
- Hire the FLYIN’ SPARKS BAND
- Make your own ice cream
- Mill around aimlessly as you wish
- Order Popeye’s
- Buy an arcade
- Make comics
- Form a comic club
- Get video games
- Get Pokemon cards
- Get clothes while you can cause no one is buying them
- Get Easter eggs
- Order Domino’s
- Rock out
- Have a rap battle
- Become a DJ
- Raid the fridge
- Raid the freezer
- Make a giant base because you never know when people might attack you
- Order Red Robin
- Hunt for squirrels
- Hunt for birds
- Hunt for cats
- Make secret tunnels leading all over the place
- Make a secret handshake
- Make up a secret language
- Make fake blood
- Make a pizza stand
- Have a throwing contest
- Have a LEGO-building contest
- Host a marathon of your favorite movies
- Make a chair
- Watch TV
- Watch YouTube
- Video chat with your friends
- Play outside
- Listen to music
- Play a game
- Walk your dog
- Bathe your dog
- Play with LEGOs
- Have a pillow fight with your siblings
- Have a water balloon fight
- Have a paint ball fight
- If you have multiple hoses have a water fight (something we have yet to do)
- Build a fort inside
- Build a fort outside
- Throw a ball at the wall
- Clean out your room
- Shop on Amazon
- Have a dance party
- Write a letter to your favorite author
- Write a letter to your favorite singer
- Write a list of a 100 reasons why the coronavirus sucks (Trust me; there’s more than a 100!)