The holidays this year will without a doubt be a lot less spectacular than in previous years. With the pandemic and global distancing standards in place, many won’t get to see their loved ones this Christmas. Many have been estranged from their family due to income loss which has impacted their ability to travel. So what do you do? Let’s help you know how to deal with boredom and depression this holiday season when you have to go it alone with the holiday blues.
There are many instances where depression shows up as boredom. While right now most of us are bored and stressed, there are many things to trigger depression. Especially here in the 2020 holiday season where we will have to celebrate differently than we have in previous years.
If you find yourself bored with work, bored with your degree, bored with your hobbies, you may be suffering from depression. Depression will suck the joy out of everything you loved doing and with those activities no longer contributing to your joy you may feel bored.
Even if you are not depressed, boredom is still bad for your mental health. Lack of stimulation and monotony will cause you to feel miserable, lethargic, and useless. Boredom can also show up as irritation and anger. All the manifestations of boredom can be hard to manage when you are mandated to stay home.
Two things that can help you to keep boredom at bay are variety and productivity. When you are working toward a goal, you will feel a sense of direction. A small change in your daily routine will help you to make notable differences in your day.
Here are some of our suggestions to help you get through the holiday blues. Remember to practice social distancing and proper hygiene in all you do as we try to stay safe through the COVID-19 pandemic.
Changes You Can Make to Your Daily Routine
Have Breakfast Somewhere Different Every Morning
If you have been working from home due to the pandemic, your mornings by now all feel the same. With a simple change of environment, you can see a complete turnaround in your mood.
Don’t sit at your desk for every meal and don’t try to multitask eating and working. Start small by changing where you have breakfast. Have you made a habit of having breakfast while reading emails at your desk? How about you have your breakfast at the dining table this morning while listening to some music instead. Do you have a garden or a balcony? Is it warm enough where you live to eat out there? How about breakfast in bed?
A small change like this can make a world of difference to how you feel throughout the day. And while you are still staying at home you will have made breakfast time a bit different, a bit more lighthearted by not mixing in some work.
Start an Exercise Regimen
You can get rid of mounting tension by starting your day with a bit of exercise. Do something short and fun if you really are not in the mood or are unfit. Start with a couple of jumping jacks, do these every morning and as you get used to your routine you can start adding or changing what you do for exercise.
Go at it, as long as you are not pushing yourself too hard or are not injured, you will feel better by incorporating exercise into your daily routine.
Spruce Up Your Shower Routine
Make shower time more than a simple essential daily routine. A change in scent or texture in the shower can help to clear brain fog. Try to use scents like eucalyptus, citrus, and peppermint to foster an atmosphere of focused energy. Where are those fancy soaps you got for your birthday or last Christmas? Now’s a good time to get into some of those.
Play Music While Doing Chores
Upbeat music is known for helping to improve mood. Get a dope playlist and turn your chores into fun or even an exercise session. This will make washing the pile of dishes the kids left in the sink easier.
Since music also evokes memories, you can choose the type of music that will have you relive the happiest times of your life. Before you know it, the chores will be all done and you will be feeling a lot better than other times you have completed those same tasks.
Netflix and Youtube are great, but after staring at a screen all day, winding down by staring at another screen isn’t much winding down at all. So let’s change up this routine as well.
Try knitting, coloring, a crossword puzzle, sketching, or painting. Whatever you like to do to express yourself, try that out. You don’t have to create something perfect, you just have to do it to decompress.
Eat Something You Don't Normally Eat
Once per week, do something different by eating something fantastic. A lot of restaurants have remained open allowing for pickup and delivery. But this is also an option for you to try a new recipe so you have a reward to look forward to at the end of your workday.
Research shows that practicing gratitude really does wonders for your mental health. Journaling is a great way to express your gratitude in a tangible way. You can of course just get up every day and say what you are grateful for, but writing it down seems to be better and you will always be able to go back and look at it. It will bring a smile to your face on the days you don't think there is anything to be grateful for.
If for starters you are struggling to find things that you are grateful for at the beginning of your day, do it at the end of the day instead. Write three things that happened that day that you were grateful for. Do you love coffee and were able to brew it in your Keurig? Hey, that's something to be thankful for!
Changes To Make on Your Weekend Routine
A Bigger Picture Project
No, you don’t have to launch a business or write a book. You can do smaller tasks. For example, do you have a list of movies you want to watch? Why not choose one to watch this weekend, and the next and the next. Make your list, whether you want to write it in a book or make a digital list. You can remove them or strike through them as you watch each movie.
And the same goes for anything else that you can tackle over the weekend. Quick fixes to do around the house, a book you’ve been wanting to read or a recipe you have been wanting to try are all things you can include in your weekend routine. It can break up the monotony by giving you an end goal. The sense of accomplishment you feel after completing the entire list will do your blues wonders.
Host a Virtual Party
So you can’t throw your usual Christmas shindig, but you can host a virtual party. Kill those “it won’t be the same” thoughts right now! We get it, depression makes you want to postpone all the things and just stay in bed. But we don’t want to feed the dragon, instead, we want to starve it to death. A video call with multiple friends and family can provide a bit of a fix for your weeks and months of isolation.
You spruce up your party by playing charades in Zoom and you can even have a virtual book club. Some casual chit chat, some festive food and your family members on a screen doing similar things can really make a positive difference when you are having holiday blues.
The Difference Between Boredom and Depression
While boredom and depression may often look alike, there are a number of distinctions. Don’t jump to the conclusion that you are depressed when you may in fact be bored. And we also don’t want you to jump to the conclusion that you are bored if you are in fact depressed.
We have all, at some point or another, experienced boredom, those lectures in college that didn't intrigue us, those times all you did was listen and your friend talked. It is commonplace for one to stare at nothing when they are bored and simply watch the time pass away.
Feelings of desperation and restlessness also accompany boredom. It can also cause you to withdraw from those around you and under-perform at your job. These are symptoms of depression, so it is important to know the difference between the two.
The truth is, not all who are bored are depressed, but there is a clear link. Before we get into that, let's outline a clear definition of the two terms.
Depression is characterized by low mood and a constant state of feeling empty and unhappy. It is also characterized by irregular sleep patterns, paranoia, false beliefs and feelings of worthlessness.
When you are bored you are not mentally stimulated and so you may feel unmotivated to do any type of productive tasks.
Boredom can be dangerous to our health, but oftentimes people get creative when they are bored and pursue new goals that they may have not had without the boredom. Depression on the other hand affects people by causing poor performance as the depressed individual has no motivation whatsoever. Add to that the low self-esteem and low energy which may be reflected as fatigue by those who suffer from depression. Those with depression may also find themselves in pain with no physical cause.
What Causes Boredom?
A lack of proper rest can cause boredom as well as monotony and low levels of mental stimulation. Depression has more widespread causes. Depression is caused by social, psychological, and biological factors. There are even genetic factors that may come into play causing depression or adding to the burden.
Depression can also be triggered by trauma whether from physical abuse, mental abuse, sexual abuse, or bullying. Substance abuse is another factor that increases one’s risk for depression.
Diagnosing Boredom and Depression
To be clinically diagnosed with depression you have to exhibit symptoms for at least 2 weeks continuously. When the symptoms will not go away with a chance of activities, there is a high chance the individual is depressed and not simply bored.
If your boredom lasts for a period of time, it can lead to depression, but you have to be bored for a prolonged period of time for this to be so. We hope the above is the only holiday blues you will be having this season but if you are still not certain if you are bored or depressed, enlist a professional that can help you through how to deal with boredom and depression during the 2020 holiday season. While we have to stay at home and engage in social distancing, you don't need to have the holiday blues. If you feel them creeping in, give us a call, and let’s talk about it. At Estadt Psychological Services, we are equipped and ready to help you!