Being bored is making us create, say experts.

Box sets, fridge raids and sharing our 10 favourite albums on social media can only keep the tedium of lockdown at bay for a limited time. And with so many of us furloughed, without work or stuck at home with distracting children, our minds are starting to wander. Boredom is making us tetchy, intolerant, frustrated and… creative.

Researchers say that being made to do nothing for weeks on end drives people to think creatively, forcing them to find new ways to keep life interesting and challenging. In fact we could be on the verge of a creative explosion on a par with WW2. “The lockdown could turn out to be one of the world’s most creative times ever,” Dr Sandi Mann, a researcher at the University of Central Lancashire told the Times.

This could explain why our timelines are increasingly filled with home art projects, friends’ knitting progress, watercolours and pottery, script writing, adventurous cuisine experiments, book projects, patchwork quilts and even hair dyed in rainbow colours. Long forgotten hobbies are being revived, because creating makes us feel good. Artist David Hockney is urging anyone who fancies taking up art as a lockdown hobby to take out the pencils or brushes, and put away the camera. “I would suggest people could draw at this time,” he told the Guardian. “Question everything and do not think about photography.”

He recommends drawing with open eyes. “I would suggest they really look hard at something and think about what they are really seeing.” It’s an important point. Fast culture and scrolling our way through social media means we often don’t take the time to really appreciate what we’re looking at, to inhale it fully. But we’re all a bit deeper now we’re living through a global pandemic, I suspect.

Have you got the creative bug yet? As a teenager I was always drawing, just for fun. Somehow in adult life it’s a hobby I’ve never found the time for. But yesterday, feeling angsty and desperate to silence the chatter in my head, I sat down in the back garden with the kids’ coloured pencils and a sketch book and drew what was in front of me – a wild looking overgrown potted palm. For a whole hour I stopped checking my phone for updates and finding new things to fret about, because I was entirely focussed on matching the complex colours of the leaves. It really was a break for my anxious brain.

We’re always reading about the benefits of making things and research has shown that creating or tending things by hand enhances mental health and makes us happy by satisfying a primal need. As a way to soothe our current malaise I heartily recommend it. And who knows? Flexing those creative muscles could result in a masterpiece, a new career direction or a totally different way of thinking about how to live the rest of your life.

Words: Marina Gask