If you’re bored in the house, bored in the house, bored, you may need to spend some time away from Tiktok instead of dabbling in a new hobby. Though it may seem harmless, extended periods of boredom can harm your mental and physical health, according to psychologist Dr. Yvonne Thomas, Ph.D.
For one thing, she says, it can lower our self-esteem because it makes us see ourselves as lazy, unproductive or directionless. Plus, boredom can adversely affect us because it can diminish or deplete our cognitive and creative abilities since we don’t feel motivated to make a change.
“Unfortunately, the longer boredom has set in, sometimes the harder it is to break out of the complacency and sluggishness of it,” she continues. “People can subconsciously zone out and be unaware how much they are wasting time with irrelevant activities, overeating, not exercising enough or at all.”
Here, hobbies to explore that help you tap into new parts of your mind to spark creativity, inspiration, and, most importantly: happiness.
Adopt some plant children
By now, you have likely seen all of the memes around ‘plant moms,’ but there is some science behind caring for these green beauties. Becoming a gardener — whether indoors or outdoors — forces us to get up-close-and-personal with nature and encourages us to become nurturers, according to Emilie Perz, a wellness expert and the CEO of Sequential Body. “You can get your creative juices flowing by creating pretty pots with flowers, and you can experience pride from eating homegrown veggies if you plan on making your own vegetable garden,” she explains. “Whatever the case may be, gardening is a great way to remove boredom from your life.”
Take on a cooking or baking challenge at home
If the kitchen isn’t exactly your playing field and you tend to feel way out of your comfort zone, use this time at home to improve your skillset. Whether you’re more intrigued by baking or cooking, Dr. Thomas says trying new meal creations engages your senses, from taste and touch to smell and sight. If you can, don’t go for something easy. Instead, tackle a dish you never thought you could master. “When a recipe is relatively complex, it requires your mind to be focused and actively involved,” she explains. “Then, there is the additional positive reinforcement of ending up with the tangible product of one’s efforts, which can provide a boost to your self-esteem and creativity.”
Plan a future trip
With strict travel bans and a nationwide discouragement of pleasure jet-setting, now isn’t the right time to retreat somewhere tropical and far away. While a road trip may be doable, anything requiring a flight may be tricky with pandemic precautions. But that doesn’t mean you have to give up the dream, Perz reminds. In fact, taking the time to plan a vacation for 2022 to a bucket list destination could make you feel hopeful and engaged. “Traveling is an entertaining way to experience difficult cultures and is a hobby in itself,” she shares. “Researching places to explore, eat, shop, and more can be a lot of fun. By planning a trip, you’ll be able to flex your travel desires and from the comfort of your home.”
Use your hands to get creative
As the saying goes, ‘the devil finds work for idle hands,’ which is another way of saying that you can get yourself into trouble when you have nothing to do. To prevent yourself from getting distracted by negativity, licensed clinical social worker Hillary Schoninger suggests giving your hands something to do, like exploring colors. It can be through an adult coloring book, a paint-by-number project, or just free drawing. In fact, it’s a hobby she turns to herself. “This is a time to slow down and immerse in beautiful colors and images,” she shares. “There is something very fulfilling about coloring while providing us another opportunity to be quieter and escaping into what we are helping create.”
Offer to do charity work
If you tend to be more left-brain ruled than right, you can also look for hobbies that utilize your professional skill set. Take, for instance, you’re a killer writer. Or, you enjoy creating marketing campaigns or budgets. Whatever the case, Perz says many non-profit charities seek experts to help them pro-bono. In addition to giving back, you’ll also be filling your time with positivity, all while improving your resume too.
Commit to a journaling practice
You may not be a natural writer, but Dr. Thomas says there is something therapeutic about getting your thoughts out of your mind and on paper (or in the notes section of your smartphone). Consider it a new goal to spend five minutes every day freewriting about anything and everything that comes to mind. “Because you are more present when journaling, you are better able to get deeper within yourself and access thoughts and feelings from your subconscious. By doing this, interesting and/or important ideas, connections, and realizations can occur, stimulating your mind. This increases your self-awareness and helps you to recognize patterns.”
Rediscover a fitness routine
Many people have gone through fitness highs and lows throughout the pandemic: sometimes they’re feeling pumped to work out, and others, they can barely make it out of bed. It’s normal, but if you’re currently in a dry spell, Dr. Thomas suggests coming up with an exercise challenge you can master over a week or a month. “Be it cardio, weights or yoga, exercise can help you physically get or stay in shape, breathe more fully, and get more energized,” Dr. Thomas continues. “You can also emotionally benefit from exercise because it can decrease stress, depression, anxiety, or other upsetting feelings. Cognitive gains from exercise can include higher levels of concentration and focus.”
Experiment with puzzles
Maybe your mom enjoys traditional 500 to 1,000-piece puzzles, but you find them exhausting and tedious. That’s okay — but don’t give up on puzzles. As health and fitness expert Stephanie Mansour reminds, there are plenty of different kinds to try! “Whether it be sudoku, a crossword, or riddles, you’ll be sharpening your mind while building determination and motivation, both of which will help your overall mental health. Puzzles sharpen your mind by working both sides of your brain,” she adds.
We only recommend products we have independently researched, tested, and loved. If you purchase a product found through our links, Sunday Edit may earn an affiliate commission.