Our ‘normal’ suddenly hit a pause when COVID-19 happened. Given the global scale of the situation, bouts of anxiety and panic during this time is understandably justifiable. One coping mechanism a lot of people turned to is starting a new hobby or rekindling an old one. From filming TikTok videos to unleashing our inner Gordon Ramsey, our ability to adapt in the face of adversity is indeed commendable. But aside from the need for spontaneity during this quarantine, is there more to adopting new hobbies than just the exploration of various ways to pass time? Here's what several people have to say about the benefits of engaging in a hobby during this period.
Easing the tension with creativity
Browsing social media and binging on Netflix can only do so much, especially since days are blurred during this stay-in setup. A common consensus among most people we reached out to is that they are always looking for different ways of expressing creativity to ease the tension.
For 35-year-old freelancer and entrepreneur Alaine, creating plushies and soft books for her son became her new hobby. It turned into an extra income resource during this period, as she started getting inquiries and orders when she shared her son’s photo playing with her creations. College student Richelle, 19, also turned to DIY crafting as a way to “soothe her mind” and address the irregular sleeping patterns she developed when she started staying in.
As for 23-year-old content writer Roxette, rediscovering her love for songwriting and fiction-writing became her escape. All of them shared that these are things usually difficult to maintain or pursue in their regular day-to-day but has become more accessible during this period, all while keeping anxious thoughts at bay.
Discovering introspection through sweets
Many also turn to delectable treats during this period, but not just for stress-eating. Entrepreneur Clarence, 27, shared that as someone from a multi-cultural family — including Japanese, German, Filipino, Spanish and American — the luxury of time allowed her to dig deeper into her heritage through baking and further challenged her to work with ingredient limitations.
Content creator Tesle, 24, shared similar sentiments when it comes to the limitations, but remains positive. She said that this lifestyle change helped her overcome her tendency to procrastinate and now, with nowhere to run, it made her realise that not only is baking “super fun and satisfying”, it also helped her deal with “cabin fever and anxiety” significantly.
Taking a healthy pause from productivity
Not everyone is opting for productive hobbies this time around, though. For some, slowing down or simply gunning for a more candid distraction is the way to go to combat the silent yet chaotic change. Emma, a 33-year-old BPO Product Trainer, says that stargazing is her new hobby. She explained that despite the simplicity of the act, it “helps a lot with depression” and makes her “feel grounded and present”.
IT Product Support Specialist Ryan, 25, on the other hand, shared that playing the Xbox game Just Dance with his siblings and cousins is his hobby of choice. He said that aside from helping “alleviate the mood”, it also encourages the family to bond and exercise — something they can’t all commit to before.
On the relationship between hobbies and holistic health
US and UK-trained psychologist and Singapore-based counsellor Dr. Maria Micha shared that starting a new hobby helps “create a different mindset” no matter what its nature or calibre is. This is due to human nature’s natural craving to “seek changes in our daily routines, be it big or small”, especially when trying times are at hand.
She further explained that “it is important for people to identify and engage in such activities” because "immersing one’s self holistically" in such hobbies allows us to “disengage from our current situation” to the point that we “no longer ‘catastrophise’ or worry too much” about what is happening.
“When you find a hobby you truly like and that hobby brings you joy, it makes it easier to detach from depressive feelings, stress, obsessiveness, or just dark thoughts in general,” she added. She also expressed that when these hobbies become activities that inspire anticipation or excitement, it also alleviates one’s sense of hopefulness and optimism — which, honestly, is something we all need a dose of, this time and beyond.
The importance of ‘intent’
“There should be an intent to continue to engage in these hobbies, intent to continuously connect with the joy and contentment these activities bring, and intent to draw up a plan where these hobbies are now included in what will become our ‘new’ normal routines,” said Dr. Micha, when asked about how we can maintain such hobbies after the pandemic season.
She also explained that in order for this intent to reach its fruition, we must also strive to practise it for “40 days straight after the quarantine is over” for it to reach “stability” in our routines and transform it from hobby to habit. Otherwise, we’re likely to neglect or forget about it all over again.
Thankfully, all of the people we talked to are eager to pursue their hobbies even after this safe distancing season is over. Things are, of course, easier said than done. It may be easy to envision it now while we’re still in a hazy time loop away from the hustle and bustle of our previous routines, but we can’t help but be hopeful. After all, if there’s one thing we learned during this period of solitude, it is that hobbies are more than just a form of escapism. These are mental enablers to ensure that we should never take our emotional and physical health for granted.
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