Those Bored in Quarantine Can Sometimes Find a Boost in Creativity

From Charli XCX's album recorded in lockdown to your own creative projects, you'll be surprised at what can come of being confined to your home.

Last month, British electro-pop artist Charli XCX released her fourth album, “How I’m Feeling Now.” All 11 tracks and videos were extremely creative and entirely recorded and produced over the course of six weeks in quarantine. Crazy, right?

The album is representative of the times, and it is “very DIY,” with songs about love, loneliness and partying by yourself. Fans and critics alike are loving it.

When I first read about this, I was extremely impressed. After UNC’s campus closed down, I returned home to Boston and struggled to do anything, including the homework for my online psychology course.

During a Zoom call with fans before the album’s release date, XCX said, “During this quarantine time period, I have found that for me my positivity goes hand in hand with spurring creativity. I really need to be creative to feel happy, to feel comfortable and to make sure my mental health is staying on track.”

Similar to Charli XCX, many people have relied on creative projects while in self-isolation. For instance, actor Ben Platt, who resides in Los Angeles, ordered a white piano and made it a project for himself to hammer it together. “It is a bit uneven, but it does work at least,” he said to Vogue. “Singing and playing and kinda getting lost in the piano has been a really comforting thing.”

Lizzo, famous singer and songwriter, also came up with a unique way to entertain her followers on social media. She serenaded viewers by playing the flute and providing relaxing commentary in an Instagram video.

In a video by ABC News, people everywhere were coming up with unique ways to keep their sanity. For instance, a dad powered a homemade skiing lift for his two daughters. Two parents also created a fake Starbucks window for their toddler rather than going to the real store.

According to Psychology Today, creativity is “part of our core survival and adaptability.” For me, walking and going places outside of my house has always driven my creativity. If I stay in my house all day, I would not be able to be productive, let alone write. On campus, I could leave my dorm and at least sit in the dining hall to do my homework, but now, at home, I can’t even walk to Dunkin’ Donuts and sit down.

The coronavirus has undeniably changed our everyday lives. I had to get creative, no pun intended, to trick my brain into focusing on tasks such as writing, drawing — or possibly holding myself accountable to assemble a piano. The feeling of boredom may just be the answer to my (and others’) troubles with being productive during lockdown. Quarantine is the opportunity to get creative.

Boredom is more complex than you think, and there are actually five levels.

1. Indifferent

This describes an individual who is disconnected from the outside world and calm.

2. Calibrating

Almost everyone reading this has experienced this level. It describes an individual who is in an “unpleasant emotional state.” They have an openness to other activities other than the present one, but they are not necessarily searching for something to reduce boredom.

3. Searching

This describes an individual who is feeling more negative than the previous level. However, they are on an active search to reduce their boredom, trying to think of “alternate activities, hobbies, leisure or work.”

4. Reactant

An individual who has high levels of negative and arousal emotions. They have a strong drive to leave their current situation and fix their boredom mindset.

5. Apathetic

This level varies from person to person. Again, unpleasant, but the individual experiences feelings of helplessness or depression.

The keyword throughout these levels is searching. You are desperate in your search for an activity to relieve your boredom. According to principal and managing director Joey Camire, this is what inspires creativity and why people seem more creative than usual during quarantine.

Another reason behind this theory is our same daily routines pre-quarantine could have potentially ruined our creative thinking. Benedict Carey, author of “How We Learn,” tells us that sticking to our same routine everyday could potentially limit “our brain’s ability to build skills and knowledge.” Say you take a different route on your daily walk; it would “maximize the brain’s effectiveness.” However, if you are like me, I need structure in my day-to-day life, and like Charli XCX, my well-being and sanity relies on creativity.

I decided it would be a good idea to restart a few habits I stopped to keep structure during self-isolation. If you need structure, take some time to read them.

1. Working Out Everyday

It doesn’t matter how and when for me. This can be a walk with the dog through the park or running around my neighborhood for 20 minutes. Especially for anxious people, physical activity is a necessity.

2. Waking Up at the Same Time Every Day (and Not Pressing Snooze)

This one is self-explanatory. Not only does this lead to better sleep, but it also benefits your mood.

3. Eating a Big Breakfast

Eating a big breakfast will make you more alert and improve your concentration. It can also boost your metabolism and stabilize your weight. I almost never ate breakfast at school because I was rushing to class or I wanted to get those few extra minutes of sleep. But like everyone, I had to adapt. Quarantine has forced our fast-paced brains to reimagine what is real, what is possible, and slow down.

As Agustin Fuentes from the Cut said, “We are neither the nicest nor the nastiest species, but we are the most creative.”

Jackie Sizing, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

Writer Profile

Jackie Sizing

University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
Media and Journalism

Jackie Sizing is an aspiring writer who enjoys drinking way too much coffee and showing people photos of her dog. If you want to potentially see these photos (and all her writing!), follow her on Twitter @jackiesiz.

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