Win the War on Boredom and Stress During Isolation!

“The truth is that everyone is bored, and devotes [themself] to cultivating habits.” – Albert Camus, The Plague

by John Urquhart

As someone with mental health complexities as well as physical disability, I often have to be bored, indoors, on my own, doing absolutely nothing productive. So: are you isolated?

I got your back on this!

And so do many other people! For a start, a bunch of stuff just got made free, or put in trial mode, just to help you out. Like I’ll undoubtedly say a few times: we’re all in this together, and not in the sense that politicians say that, but in the very real sense.

Let’s start with the sedate.

D’you fancy a trip to Paris? The timing isn’t great for a trip but you can still “walk” the streets using Google Street View, as well as some museums and galleries. You can also check out the museums and lots of art at the Paris Museums Collection; it has 342,622 works available online, for free, especially for you, during isolation.

Not enough museum-ing and art for you? There’s also virtual museum tours, set up by museums around the world. The British Museum; the National Gallery of Art, Washington DC; why not go back to Paris and visit the Musée d’Orsay? This article has these and more.

Sticking with art, it’s a shame so many conventions and expos are being cancelled. Luckily, that doesn’t have to ruin all of the fun of them. eComic Expo is a virtual expo space for all sorts of arts, crafts, comics, books, and much more besides — definitely check it out, especially if you want to support people whose livelihoods usually depend on those very same conventions that are being cancelled.

Social distancing needn’t be lonely. The internet is full of ways to chat and interact with other people. If you’re into gaming or some related subcultures, you might especially find use in Discord, which has both text and voice chat capabilities; there are many public servers. Discord runs in your browser, so there’s nothing to install — but it is available as both a desktop application and on your smaller devices, too.

If you miss your friends and family, don’t forget Skype — once you both have it installed, they’re always only a call away.

You could even go retro and hop onto Internet Relay Chat — one of the earliest unicast chat systems in use on the Internet (which played a role in getting information out when the Soviet Union fell, no less) — using Mibbit — a huge selection of chat rooms and people of all kinds from all over the world await you.

There are endless selections of hobby forums as well (too many to link to!); places to debate your favourite TV shows, or to share wisdom about cleaning fabrics. You name it. Search is definitely your friend!

In this vein, and a little basic and obvious for some, but not all: there’s Reddit (“the front page of the internet”) for just about anything, such as your daily fix of kitter and an adorable proliferation of rare puppers, with a vast array of “subreddits” at your fingertips. Reddit is basically a community of forums, so there’s usually something for everyone there.

How about music? korg, makers of (i)Kaossilator, have made that app free for everyone on iOS and Android for a limited time in order to help us all get through. Check it out here.

Lastly, here are some don’ts to help you keep your stress levels low and your engagement level high:

* don’t read the news constantly. It’ll make you anxious. Especially if you’re isolating because you’re sick, this isn’t helpful to your immune system. Set yourself one time a day, with a specific amount of time set aside to read the news — and then leave it alone.
* don’t think you’re really alone. You’re not. We’re all with you still. Nobody is “outside” of this situation — we’re all in it.
* don’t be afraid to keep a journal, even if you don’t normally do so. You’re going to need an outlet through these very trying times in order to keep stress down and your immune system up. A journal is a way for you to get thoughts down — and then walk away.
* don’t do just one thing, especially if it’s your hobby. Make yourself do other stuff. If you just do one thing, you’re at real risk of getting bored with it and then feeling like there’s nothing else to do.

Above all else, find the things that make you smile and do ’em. When we’re alone we’re most ourselves, so never forget: Do you how you do.