Despite having more free time, people report having difficulty focusing and completing their daily tasks.
There’s been a lot of talk about negative habits and the possibility of picking these up while in quarantine, only to have their consequences follow you around for years to come.
There’s also been a lot of talk about using isolation time for cultivating positive habits, such as learning a different language or completing a novel. Although that sounds ideal and super productive, it’s a complicated idea since we can’t even watch a YouTube video without being bombarded by coronavirus ads and news.
Many activities have become popular during the coronavirus pandemic, from baking bread, to washing dishes and binging Netflix. One of the most popular habits people have picked up (or gotten reacquainted with) is gaming, which is one of the world’s most absorbing and distracting activities for a reason.
Verizon reports a 75% increase in gaming among its network. One of the biggest sources of memes throughout the past couple of months has been Animal Crossing: New Horizons, a game for the Nintendo Switch. Nintendo’s sales have been so rampant that the company announced they’d be producing an extra 22 million console units by the end of May.
Marijuana businesses have also reported spiked sales, whether a particular state deems dispensaries as essential or not. In New York, the New York Post reports an increase of 50% of sales between March 16-22. Legal states like California, Colorado and Oregon also reported an increase (41%) compared to that same date last year.
Despite the vast amount of time at your disposal, it’s hard to focus and motivation in this current environment. Parents quarantined with their children are reporting increasing amounts of stress over an accumulation of responsibilities that include work, caring for their kids, and coping with an uncertain economic environment. And that’s for the lucky ones who aren’t essential workers and who still have jobs.
In an interview with Time, Stetson University associate professor Chris Ferguson said that despite the bad reputation that video games have developed over the years, there’s no real scientific evidence that says that games are associated with negative outcomes. When in quarantine, he says that while it’s important for parents and kids to get exercise and complete their chores and work, “there are honestly no maximum limits on video game time, particularly as right now there might not be much else to do.”
It’s all about perspective. If you find yourself unable to detach from your vices, whether they’re made up of alcohol, weed, porn or video games, then it’s time to put your health first. Make the time for activities that help you preserve your mental and physical health, ensuring that your house is clean and that your kids and family members are cared for. After you’re done? What you choose to do with your free time is up to you. In this era of isolation, whatever helps you decompress is the right choice.