Fighting boredom and disconnection

VermontCathy Posts: 1,920 ✭✭✭✭✭

Has anyone else noticed that keeping busy does not necessarily prevent boredom and restlessness?

I've been trying to keep busy with a mix of reading, hobbies, cooking, baking cookies, stacking firewood, growing sprouts, and so on, plus my business. But I'm finding that even when I keep running from activity to activity, there is an underlying feeling of boredom and disconnection from everything around me.

Sometimes I look around me and think, "I could do A, B, C, or D next. But I don't really want to do any of them." Sometimes I'm engaged in an activity and still feeling bored and disengaged from it. It's like having acquired ADHD (attention deficit) as a side effect of the COVID constraints.

Thoughts? I'm wondering if this is an effect of not having enough "people contact" on a day-to-day basis.



  • shllnzl
    shllnzl Posts: 1,816 ✭✭✭✭✭

    I should be getting more done also. I find that I have a restlessness based on having to deal with the unrelenting bad news in the world.

  • The news can really take a toll. I'm with you, I think of all the things I could or should be doing but there is this weight that we feel even if we are not thinking of it. I don't know the answer but I suspect it will be different for each individual. Sometimes doing something for someone else can lift it for a bit. Even (or especially) if it is just a phone call to someone you haven't spoken with for a while.

  • gardneto76
    gardneto76 Posts: 528 ✭✭✭✭

    I work in retail 5 days a week and still have this issue, especially when I am slow at work. At home, I only notice it in the evening after the sun has gone down, because I feel more limited in the things I can choose to do. I am starting to think it is a lack of sunshine for me. During summer I could be outside in the sun before & after work, not so much now.

  • VermontCathy
    VermontCathy Posts: 1,920 ✭✭✭✭✭

    Here in New England that's a problem every winter. Things switch from "you can do something outside in daylight after dinner" to "you can do something outside in daylight before dinner, then eat after dark" to " you get home from work and it's already dark."

    In midwinter, it's "drive to work in the dark, and get home after dark."

  • KimWilson
    KimWilson Posts: 197 ✭✭✭

    @gardneto76 I use a full spectrum light that does seem to help with a lack of sunshine. I actually started to use it again a few weeks back when the days started to get shorter again. It doesn't help with the disconnect, but it is worth trying for the sunlight issue. I just keep mine on the kitchen counter and turn it on when I am in there anyway working.

  • LaurieLovesLearning
    LaurieLovesLearning Posts: 7,375 admin
    edited November 2020

    I have so much to do that I am overwhelmed...but I lack the motivation to get it done. I am trying to do one important thing daily +1 more thing. Basics are even difficult to accomplish. Do you find that too? If I can push myself, I do more.

    Our schedule is nothing like it was before, so that interferes greatly. We leave home very little. The outside (city) world seems strangely foreign, our regular activities are non-existent, and my husband is home (stress leave initially...not covid related)...which always interfered with schoolwork somehow (like, it's a holiday, Dad's home type of thing). Now it is every day.

    Your feeling is certainly covid related, which has brought it's own stresses, but also caused strange decision, divisions, actions & attitudes by many, which compounds our perceptions & adds more stress. It is no wonder we feel this way.

    We too no longer have satellite tv. This is not a direct result of Covid, though, but certainly helps cut back on bad news stories & having to scrutinize/analyze all of them. That takes way too much mental energy when it is already depleted!

    I think that we need to be purposeful in our daily activities (but who am I to talk?). A schedule or a list might be helpful just as putting our little inner child on a sleeping-waking schedule. But again...who am I to talk? Determine to do a certain activity that you make yourself accomplish for Mondays, and another for Tuesdays, etc.

    I think this could help tremendously. Opinions?

  • judsoncarroll4
    judsoncarroll4 Posts: 5,361 admin

    Yes. In all honesty, there is no substitute for human contact, interaction, friends, family and love. Staying busy will never fill that gap. Humans were never meant to be alone. For every keyhole, there is a key.... nothing else fits.

  • VermontCathy
    VermontCathy Posts: 1,920 ✭✭✭✭✭

    My husband is considered an essential worker, so he still goes to the office. Because I am self-employed from a home office, my days don't have much structure to begin with, which is part of the problem.

    I haven't had much trouble getting things done. The issue is more that it's not satisfying. Judson is right, keeping busy doesn't fill the gap of human contact. And having my husband around is not enough; I need other people too.

  • Linda Bittle
    Linda Bittle Posts: 1,500 ✭✭✭✭✭

    I'm pretty far on the introvert side of things. I've never enjoyed a lot of human interaction. I have lots of interests an hobbies, and I love to study nature, so I never get bored. I rarely get lonely.

    And, since September, I've been working 12 hour shifts in hospital food service, so I am surrounded by people - who get in my personal space all day long. It's a relief to come home to the solitude...

    And still, I am not getting enough of the right kind of human interaction with friends and family. No Sunday church or weekly Bible study. No book club. No big family dinners like I'd hoped to have after being away for 14 years!

    Worst of all, I think, is the making future plans to do something, which then get shot down by another mandate.

    To have an entire year of plans - holidays, long weekends, travel, parties, worship, meetings, classes - all canceled, changed to Zoom, or restricted - it just makes life harder than it should be. Not getting hugs from friends when you see them at the store, no spur of the moment is deeply discouraging. Even to a grump like me.

  • Tave
    Tave Posts: 952 ✭✭✭✭✭

    I'm having a hard time with motivation because of the lack of structure since COVID-19. And I miss the hugs that I used to get. Arranging video chats with family and friends definitely helps. Although I'm an introvert and enjoy the isolation to a certain point, too much isn't good for us.

    Doing something nice for someone also helps when I start feeling down.

  • ltwickey
    ltwickey Posts: 369 ✭✭✭

    I think for me it is the underlying feeling of not knowing what to expect next, that has me feeling restless.

    Things like:

    What impact will the flu have on the COVID pandemic?

    Will the vaccine actually work?

    Will the virus mutate and get stronger?

    Fear of the unknown is the worst feeling for me.

  • Slippy
    Slippy Posts: 117 ✭✭✭

    If anybody is feeling bored/disconnected or restless, I have a bunch of final Bush Hawgin' to do around my place before winter sets in, a Barn that needs cleaning and organized and at least a few siding panels to replace, a chicken coop that needs cleaned more often than I choose to do and a mile long gravel road that needs pot-holes repaired and Box-Blade dragged for smoothness and a cover crop to finish planting on my garden beds! Come on over!😀

    Seriously, prayer and high quality bourbon seem to help me cope! 😎

  • naomi.kohlmeier
    naomi.kohlmeier Posts: 380 ✭✭✭

    Sometimes instead of being busy, we just need to be about the business of being. Sitting still and soaking in our surroundings and just doing nothing. I like to sit outside with the sun on my face, take some deep breaths and relax. Now while that's not possible all day long, it does help with the overall feeling of well-being.

  • LaurieLovesLearning
    LaurieLovesLearning Posts: 7,375 admin
    edited November 2020

    @Slippy In my teens I used to relax by cleaning out the barn. It got me away from the crazy family dynamics & with the animals. It was hard work & I loved the end result. I would have cleaned the barn any day over doing garden work....oops, did I say that out loud here? Haha!

    Unfortunately my body does not think it is so much fun anymore!

    @naomi.kohlmeier I agree, although right now up here, just sitting outside might get a tad chilly!

  • jowitt.europe
    jowitt.europe Posts: 1,413 admin

    @frogvalley I was so glad to read what you wrote, because I feel exactly the same. I am enjoying this period with no social obligations. We do, finally, live for ourselves, concentrate on our own needs and interests and organise our activities accordingly.

    I am so sorry to read so many posts on a minor note. Come on! This period will end and, hopefully, we will come out wiser and able to cherish other values. It is such a good time to reflect on what is important in life and what is not. Revise priorities, plan for future.

    and there are herbs: St John’s wort, Ginseng tincture, or a glass of good wine or brandy.

    @naomi.kohlmeier yesssss sitting in the sun. If it is cold, one can dress warm! Walk in nature. Long walks. Rhythmic walking or jogging clears the mind.

    if the old activities are already boring, why not thinking of something creative and crazy and planning something for the period when everything finishes - with no definite date, but with all crazy details.

    Come on! There are so many books to read! So many films to see! So much to learn. So many herbs to discover and try out! So many recipes to try out.

    of course I am missing my children and oh I do miss my grandchildren, but they are healthy and that is most important! And they find interesting activities - and that is important. And I am so happy for them!

    There is so much to enjoy in this life!

  • kbmbillups1
    kbmbillups1 Posts: 1,318 ✭✭✭✭✭

    I stopped watching news many months ago. Too much stress and constant fear! I have found alternative media that tells both sides with no fear. I feel much better watching it and I can tell when regular media is scaring people by going to the store and looking at the people. Sometimes I feel like I'm in the Twilight Zone!

    I too have not been able to sit and read a book the way I used to but I have been reading a little at a time and have finished a few.

    We are not locked down so I've gone back to bible study. It's wonderful to see and engage with people again! So many there have talked about the same things you guys are because of spending so much time alone.

    Too keep busy I've been working on making my cat a cat wheel so he can get some exercise. Now I just have to talk him into using it. I have a winter garden planted and covered. I'm hoping for cold weather soon so I can take the row covers off. Too many moths laying eggs until it gets cold.

  • LaurieLovesLearning
    LaurieLovesLearning Posts: 7,375 admin

    @jolanta.wittib I have so very many books to read on subjects that I can devour! I am excited to get into each one...and I am not an avid reader.

    I also have two courses that I am tackling. One will hopefully be something that I can build a profitable cottage business with. Even so, I have a lot on my plate otherwise & I can get overwhelmed easily.

    @kbmbillups1 I understand the "twilight zone". That is why we don't go into the city unless we have to.

    We are now locked down...well, at one minute past midnight. No visiting allowed, unless you are one person...then you can visit only one chosen person & those two are stuck visiting only each other. Schools are still open (which still makes no logical sense), but stores will be restricted very heavily this time. Fines are through the roof for any breaches.

    It is crazy times that were living in.

  • Wendy
    Wendy Posts: 138 ✭✭✭

    Anyone feeling they need a penpal, zoom pal, or FaceTime pal, although I know it is not the same as in-person contact, can contact me and we can chat.

    To keep me busy, I knit, make handmade cards, and am a beginning herbalist with a small garden.

  • stephanie447
    stephanie447 Posts: 404 ✭✭✭

    Not to get all religious on you, but being busy but restless to me is a sign you need to slow down, go within, and connect whatever way that means to you. Meditate, journal, pray, etc., find a practice that works for you. Find the peace within.

  • Slippy
    Slippy Posts: 117 ✭✭✭

    Question to the group...

    How many of you are truly "quarantining"? And I mean staying inside at home and not going anywhere?

    We really haven't changed much at all. The biggest change has been not going to restaurants. Not because of any mandate or fear, but mainly because the restaurant experience has drastically deteriorated. Food quality and service is horrible since the COVID situation appeared.

    But other than that, our lives are pretty much the same. Thoughts?

  • LaurieLovesLearning
    LaurieLovesLearning Posts: 7,375 admin

    @Slippy We are, pretty much. There are mandates & fines here. I don't mind not catching anything from anyone and we can't afford any fines anyway. I do like my space too.

    Shopping for us has been once a month (with 1 restaurant stop...the food has not decreased in quality in those), with maybe 1 or 2 times out for unexpected things. There has been a little interaction with others otherwise before now, but drastically less. Before now, we had visited with 3 families on occasion (not even once/month), no church (except visiting one twice since march), no sports club training (that's from 3x/wk down to 0), and the very occasional used item pick up from someone. Earlier in the year (early summer), I had met with many who were buying birds from me. Of course, that isn't happening now either. That's a spring/summer thing.

    During our month of lockdown here, it will be grocery shopping once. No visiting anywhere. We have no great need to have to go to stores or anything. Visiting in person would be nice, but it is what it is.

  • lewis.mary.e
    lewis.mary.e Posts: 225 ✭✭✭

    I feel like it's a psychological "holding our breath". We are waiting for an all clear call that just isn't coming.

    My husband was feeling ill 2 Friday nights ago, and went in for a Covid test on the following Monday. Luckily it wasn't Covid, just a minor upper respiratory thing, but I was so worried.

    I don't presume to have any answers about how to feel better about things right now, but try to do things you enjoy, and build some kind of daily routine.

    As for me, I'm so glad we adopted a puppy a month or so ago. She had no idea anything is wrong in the world, and she gives me a break from thinking about it. :)

  • Torey
    Torey Posts: 5,517 admin

    @Slippy I think it depends on where you live and the rules for your area. Quarantining seems to have different interpretations.

    Our lives haven't changed much as we are very rural. When we go to town, it is usually only one of us that goes into a store, but that is normal for us. We generally only go weekly which again is not a big change. We don't often go out for dinner. Even before the current situation, we didn't eat out very much so we haven't felt deprived in that respect. We have always had a good supply of groceries and general essentials on hand, so we haven't run out of anything. A lot of our groceries are local (meat, eggs, fruit, veg, juice, vinegar) so we haven't had to contend with shortages. As a herbalist, homeopath and First Responder we have all we currently need in the way of health care.

    We are not big social butterflies so we aren't missing people too much. Like some of you, I am glad to not have to meet social obligations and have this time to ourselves. But I REALLY miss hugs from the few people we do associate with, especially my daughters. I got hugs (masked) recently for my birthday so that was a wonderful treat.

    I live in a northern climate so winters tend to be much quieter, but during the summer we were able to get out and live life fairly normally. Gardening, foraging, camping and picnics, getting firewood. Late winter cabin fever in a couple of months might change my outlook a bit more than usual this year.

    However, we have family members in bigger cities that are not doing as well as we are. Older family members are confined to apartments or assisted living facilities. We spoke with one family member last night who seems to be "climbing the walls" even though she is able to get out for a daily walk. She is much more accustomed to visiting her grandchildren, regular shopping, lunches with friends, cross border travel, etc., so she feels very confined and is in a state of despair that her life will never return to what it was.

    I can't imagine being confined in a small space with young active children.

  • VermontCathy
    VermontCathy Posts: 1,920 ✭✭✭✭✭

    @torey "Our lives haven't changed much as we are very rural...However, we have family members in bigger cities that are not doing as well as we are."

    I can't imagine being confined in a small space, period. The ever-increasing population and ever-increasing urbanization worry me. At least I can live in a small town/rural area myself.

    Apart from occasional shopping trips, our main reason to leave the yard is to go hiking in the woods. This is especially important right now because our local gym (which is very popular in winter) has again closed after an upsurge of COVID cases in the local town and county.

  • VermontCathy
    VermontCathy Posts: 1,920 ✭✭✭✭✭

    @slippy "How many of you are truly 'quarantining'? And I mean staying inside at home and not going anywhere?"

    We're avoiding people as much as possible, but not necessarily staying home, and certainly not staying inside. Mostly we go out either to shop for groceries or to go on walks in the woods. (Tricky right now, as it's deer hunting season.) We maintain 6 feet of separation, and wear masks when inside a store, but that' s about it.

    The weather has been a mix of cold, rainy, snowy, foggy, and generally nasty. That has done more to keep us in the house than any quarantines. During this past summer, I spend a lot of time outside gardening, but November is definitely past the gardening season in zone 4.

    I don't see any benefit to "staying inside" at home anyway when you live on acreage. At most, you stay in your yard. Urban dwellers have it tough.

  • VermontCathy
    VermontCathy Posts: 1,920 ✭✭✭✭✭

    @stephanie447 "being busy but restless to me is a sign you need to slow down, go within, and connect whatever way that means to you. Meditate, journal, pray, etc., find a practice that works for you. Find the peace within."

    I agree, Stephanie. Our local church congregation is going to do a virtual Zoom Bible study starting in January. That will be good for all of us in the congregation, who have been isolated from each other and deprived of spiritual support.

  • Jack_Went_Splat
    Jack_Went_Splat Posts: 59 ✭✭✭
    edited November 2020

    October this year was an anniversary for me. The last 6 years have been a form of isolation due to illness, chronic fatigue and trying to regain a semblance of energy. We moved to a new place with a hope of me being able to finally get back to work only to just get settled in and start a long period of moving goal posts with lock downs, essential/non-essential worker status, various mandates and more of the same of the previous 5 years. While it is frustrating, there are so many things to do on the property we have obtained in the move. It keeps me busy trying to prepare for each change of season. So many of the suggestions above are the same suggestions that come to mind and have helped me during the last few years of my life. Still, there is nothing like a hug a real honest-to-goodness hug and personal contact.

    Please let me encourage all to make sure you get enough Vit D, naturally if possible and supplement if you have to so you can get your levels high enough to ward of viral illness.


  • RustBeltCowgirl
    RustBeltCowgirl Posts: 1,403 ✭✭✭✭✭

    My life has not changed much from pre-COVID times. Living with aging parents (wheelchair bound mother) and handling all the major cooking/grocery shopping. Even on lockdowns/curfews, there's the 3 day a week dialysis trips. I'm still working (an essential worker in an infrastructure supporting company). My horse is boarded nine miles away; halfway between home and work.

    No, I can't say that the basic routine of my life has changed. But, the limitations that I perceive definitely are gnawing at me.