• Addiction & recovery

Tips for Managing Boredom Without Increasing Alcohol and Cigarette Use During COVID

Nzinga Harrison

February 23, 2021


As the COVID-19 pandemic continues and many states continue to be on statewide stay-at-home order, many people are wrestling with feeling bored. Under normal circumstances, we have plenty of ways to stimulate our brains and stave off boredom, like watching television or movies, exercising, cooking, scrolling through social media, or spending time with friends. But when confined to the same day-to-day environment for long periods without structure, it’s understandable that our typical hobbies or activities are beginning to feel stale or unappealing.

To break the monotony of staying at home all the time, people are seeking different forms of fun and stimulation, whether it’s mental, physical, or recreational. However, some people might find themselves leaning into using alcohol, cigarettes, or other substances as a way to just pass the time and escape from the current state of the world. Even people who wouldn’t regularly drink or smoke frequently are now finding themselves more inclined to do so. Without structure and stimulation in place, it may become difficult to moderate use and distract yourself from the urge to drink or smoke. But it’s not impossible. Here are some tips to bust boredom without substances.

Establish substance-free days as part of your routine

For lots of people, it’s a struggle to sustain a daily routine at this time. To make it easier to get into a rhythm, instead of setting too many goals at once, try focusing on fewer goals and more realistic timeframes. Rather than trying to go substance-free for one week, take one or two days each week to stop the habit from forming around drinking or smoking. Those 24-48 hours can help you break up the repetition of turning to alcohol or cigarettes as a way to pass the time.

Build-in time for activities that bring you joy or challenge you

While different types of boredom busters and entertainment will appeal to different people for different reasons, now is a great time to revisit hobbies that you normally don’t have time for or things that you always wanted to try, such as:

  • Cooking, baking, or developing your own recipes

  • Arts and crafts like drawing, sewing, or scrapbooking

  • Exercising at home with YouTube videos

  • Learn something new like coding or a new language

  • Puzzles, board games, or cards

Use this time to improve your mental health and get help

Dr. Harrison, Addiction Expert, Psychiatrist and Chief Medical Officer for Eleanor Health says “Even though these circumstances are temporary, it’s a great time to find different methods of managing your feelings while confronted with this stressful situation.”

Instead of drinking or smoking, some helpful and healthy ways to improve your mental health include:

  • Meditation

  • Practicing mindfulness

  • Speaking with a therapist

  • Finding an online support group

  • Seeking help for managing substance consumption

If you are seeking help with your loved one’s addiction, contact us today or complete our quick contact form below, to speak with an addiction treatment specialist.

If you need help with your substance use disorder, we are here to help you build your confidence and momentum towards the future you want. We provide treatment services for adults with alcohol, opioid, and other substance use disorders. We are currently located in Louisiana, Massachusetts, North Carolina, New Jersey, Ohio, and Washington.

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