14 May 20
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This blog originally appeared in Counsellor Sam and has been republished with permission.

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We find ourselves in a very strange moment. While some people are overwhelmed with the size of their to-do list, others are finding it difficult to find things to do at all. Some of us are stuck at home with our usual responsibilities sidelined and our favourite hobbies out of reach. Many might be feeling bored and finding that difficult to manage.

Most of us will feel bored at some point in our lives, but that unpleasant state of feeling like you have nothing to do is usually fleeting. At the moment, without the structure of work and organised social lives, many of us might find ourselves ‘feeling bored’ for more than just a few hours at a time.

People who struggle with gambling often tell us that they started because they felt bored or there was nothing else to do. Some people who gamble frequently may be feeling agitated now that their normal routine of having a punt or visiting the club is cut off. Others who have never gambled much before might be feeling an urge to turn to online casinos and other forms of digital gaming. People who are trying to abstain may be finding it harder than ever.

People who gamble will know the feeling of being ‘in the zone’ — that state of concentration where what you are doing requires your total concentration. When in the zone, boredom no longer exists. What is happening on the screen in front of them takes their entire attention.

It’s important to remember that gambling isn’t the only activity that can get you ‘in the zone’. If you feel the urge to gamble, try another activity, such as:

  • reading a book
  • watching TV
  • repairing damaged items around the house
  • exercising
  • learning a new skill
  • or volunteering to help someone else (with appropriate social distancing in place).

The goal for all of us struggling with boredom at the moment is the same: find something — or things — that will keep us engaged. That will keep us ‘in the zone’.

Feeling trapped can lead to a lot of boredom and most of us are feeling trapped at the moment. We want to exercise our will and do what we want, but we’re making sacrifices for the common good.

Another important thing to remember is that boredom has its benefits. Some people think there is an evolutionary function to boredom: it comes into our lives to tell us that what we are doing is no longer working for us and that we really need to find something that will. Boredom can be a moment to reassess your priorities.

How people respond to boredom can be important and with the usual escape options unavailable, perhaps it is time to sit back and reflect on what is important in our lives and give that more focus.

A possible place to start is to do some research. Take a moment to Google: ‘What makes people happy?’ Be prepared to be surprised at the results.

If you want to talk to a counsellor, we’re here 24/7 on 1800 858 858 or by visiting gamblinghelponline.org.au.

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