The last few months have been challenging for everyone, as social distancing and isolation make the world a smaller and less friendly place. While keeping people apart is designed to bring us together in the long-run, it also gives us time and space for introspection and self-discovery. Lots of people around the world are discovering new hobbies during this time, with others exploring old hobbies or turning personal interests into small business opportunities.
Whether you're in full-scale lockdown or just trying to get out less than usual, personal hobbies can be a great way to enjoy your time at home. From cooking and fitness routines to writing, painting, and artistic pursuits, there are lots of great ways to make the most of isolation. If you're not used to spending time alone, or would like some inspiration from those around you, family members and social media communities can become an important part of your journey.
According to a survey by The Healthy Work Company, a workplace mental health consultancy, 22% of respondents had taken up a new hobby in lockdown, and 35% of people had rediscovered an old one. While rediscovering an old pastime can be great, trying out new things seemed to have a more beneficial effect of mental health outcomes. According to the study, 41% of people taking up a new activity reported a positive impact on their mental health, compared to 30% for old hobbies.
Enjoying a new hobby or rediscovering an old pastime can be beneficial in many ways. Not only does it take your mind away from the troubles of the world, it gives you something positive and practical to look forward to on a day-to-day basis. According to Olivia James, a confidence coach and trauma therapist, “Learning a new skill shifts the focus away from any anxiety you might have... When you’re enjoying taking part in a hobby, it’s easier to be curious, investigative and playful, and you’re less likely to feel stressed or snappy.”
According to Dr Daisy Fancourt, associate professor of psychobiology and epidemiology at University College London, personal hobbies offer three primary benefits: “Creative hobbies and learning new skills can help by distracting people from their worries; it can help them come to terms with or reappraise things and get a new perspective; plus it can really boost confidence and self-esteem.” Learning to love your spare time is a great way to put things into perspective, with some people managing to change their entire life by transforming a hobby into a business.
If you're looking for great ways to spend your time, you can explore existing interests or look for new inspiration outside your comfort zone. Social media is full of people showing off their creative hobbies at the moment, with some activities becoming viral as the world learns together through stories of success and failure. Sourdough bread making is perhaps the most obvious example, with people also digging vegetable patches, making skincare products, and designing clothes. During a time of worry and isolation, it's more important than ever to be mindful about how we spend our time.