In times of boredom, we all do it. We look around, we do the pat down and we mindlessly pull out our phones and tap into a world filled with likes, shares and fast moving media.
If you are like me, then sometimes you can get a little overwhelmed with all of the scrolling and aggressive reality that gets all up in my face. I work with social media for a living, so to me, the lines can be blurred on what is reality and what are my job duties.
And I am not the only one who feels a little ‘off’ when online. Generation Z (the new cool kids on the block) are growing up in a world full of online content – in fact, they have never known a world where an internet connection didn’t exist. However, in their world full of apps and notifications, they are deciding to forego the need for social media in times of boredom and indulge in the old-timey world of books, board games and wait for it…actual human contact! I know, I need a breather.
I’m in my late twenties, and I can remember dial up, cassettes and the good ol’ VHS. I can also remember AOL, mySpace and the dawn of the Facebook likes and comments, (let’s forget about the ‘poking’ function. Ew). But I also remember the good times of video games, of Pokemon and of Nintendo. Which makes my generation – us infamous millennials – the last generation of kids who grew up without the internet. And we coped just fine.
Pokemon Go Go Go!
When the boom of Pokemon Go hit the world we were plunged into a virtual world of little colourful monsters and burning need to “catch em’ all”. It distracted us from boredom and the real politics of the world, a looming Trump administration after a historical election, A possible Brexit, a Zika virus pandemic and well the losses of icons like David Bowie, Prince, Muhammad Ali and Alan Rickman. We can all gather that 2016 was a bit of a shambles politics wise, but to us noble gamers, we were head on in tracking down that pesky Pikachu and his pals.
As stated by some funny twitter memes, some say that the first month of the release of Pokemon Go will be the closest we have to world peace. With even major celebrities such as John Mayer and Demi Lovato getting addicted to the game – we all went a bit poke-crazy! People were moving more, getting outdoors and enjoying life. From bridging age gaps to bringing communities together for the love of landmarks that were highlighted in the game, it was almost as if we could all take a breath and breathe deeply again. For a little while at least.
Animal Crossing – soup for the soul?
Fast forward to 2020 – four years on. We have a global pandemic – Covid-19, and it’s showing no signs of slowing down as yet. We are all in lockdown and finding ways to pass the time and cure the passing times of boredom. Enter Animal Crossing. The sweet and soothing animal based game that will not only create a sense of calm, but provide some comfort in times of lockdown with connectability with your friends and family.
In the two months from its launch date the game has sold over 13.4 million copies globally with 5 million of them in the first month alone. It has had us talking turnip prices, nook tickets and finding fossils since day one, and creating online communities to get us through this state of lockdown.
So while I might have gone a little obsessive decorating my animal filled island for a few weeks, I couldn’t help but wonder, why are we always reaching for our gadgets when times get tough? Is virtual reality better than actual reality? In times of boredom why is our cadets the sticking plaster? And why are we so quick to fill our time with games when mindfulness could be more beneficial than an online world?
Try a little mindfulness…
To me the answer is simple, everyone needs or wants a quick fix for the looming feelings of anxiety and turmoil when the world goes a little off kilter. In times of boredom we reach for the gadgets. The same way you might grab the chocolate after a craving. Or an impulse buy to get the dopamine spike. We all search for instant gratification to soothe us over until the next crisis hits.
Mindfulness is a good practice to start in times like these. While it might not be as instant as catching a Pokemon or such, the long term effects are more beneficial with steady practise and a stronger mindset to help yourself to navigate through tough times.
Having a good mindfulness technique is key to staying calm when things go awry. Knowing that you have the power to control your own emotions and feelings and learning how to process them in a safe and effective way can help relieve those looming feelings of stress and inner turmoil – without the rise and fall of the dopamine rush that would normally be counterproductive to your mental health.
Think of it like this, you wake up late after a long night. You grab a coffee. And another. And one on the way to the office. By 12pm you are feeling rough and irritable, so another coffee is needed. Repeat till you hit 9pm and you are feeling worse than you woke up, knowing a night of tossing and turning is on the cards. And begin the whole process all over again.
When boredom hits, give it a try…
If you could break the cycle by reducing your caffeine intake, investing in some comfy pillows and getting into a sleeping routine you would find yourself better off in the long run and letting go of the constant peaks and troughs of instability.
Approach your mental health the same way. By reducing the short term dopamine hit and working on a routine with guided meditation, 30 days of mindfulness, and practicing self care, you can feel the long term benefits that will make a positive impact.
We aren’t saying that we want to put a ban on all games, in fact we think it’s a great way to unwind. We think that having good mindfulness and a little time to yourself are the perfect recipe for a happy and healthy mind.
So jump on in, the water is fine. We are waiting for you to take the plunge and start your journey to a more mindful life.
If done right then gaming can be a good release for stress and anxiety.
Yes! It can be used to build skills like problem solving and reading instructions.
Some mindfulness practices can be as easy as focusing on your breath and your surroundings.
If that is how you are able to calm your senses and focus on the task at hand then yes. However it might be easier to try some mediation during loading times and downtimes.