Say what you like about lockdown, but for many of us, it’s left us with a lot of free time on our hands. Admittedly, that’s generally been free time indoors, on our own, with limited resources for entertainment and a head full of anxieties that stops us from getting on with anything really constructive, but free time it is, nevertheless.
So, what’s the best way to stop this unexpected free time from turning into boredom and stress as our anxieties expand to fill the space available? Taking up a new hobby, of course! And from joining an online book club to reinventing the Rubik’s Cube, that’s just what many of us have done during the lockdown months, aided by the proliferation of online courses and resources that have sprung up to help us all get through the crisis as painlessly as possible.
Cooking and baking
“Learning to bake banana bread” quickly became a lockdown cliché because it was true: baking your own bread, in various permutations, was the number one new hobby taken up while isolating from the pandemic. This makes sense: making food is a practical response as well as a comforting one. It involves learning a new skill but it’s extremely democratic. Most of us have access to some kind of kitchen, and all of us need to eat.
Baking bread, and learning to be a better cook generally, feels wholesome and nourishing. We feel more in touch with nature and what we’re putting into our body in a time when the world feels hostile and threatening. It gives us a sense of achievement and well-being, and if we’re feeding a family, or donating fresh food to charity, a sense of doing something for others, too.
All kinds of games also experienced a huge resurgence during lockdown, from video games like Animal Crossing to traditional casino games like poker, many of which can be played online. The simplest form of online casino game, requiring no prior experience or skill, is the humble slot machine. People have been taking advantage of Luckyland Slots’ no deposit bonus [valid where legal] in order to play a wide range of slots for free using virtual ‘gold coins.’ You can also play using ‘sweep coins’ that can be exchanged for cash prizes should you get lucky.
Knitting and needlework
These traditional handicraft skills have a similar appeal to cooking and baking. They’re practical – who doesn’t need a warm scarf in winter – and feel wholesome and old-fashioned, taking us away from the computer screens that are otherwise dominating our times. They’re also slow skills, forcing us to reduce the pace of our once-hectic modern lives to pre-digital speeds. This is an adjustment we’ve all had to make and doing it with the slow click or hiss of a moving needle makes it more understandable and bearable.
Painting and photography
Art is a way to document and control our experience. By capturing it in a painting or a photograph, we reclaim it and express our feelings about it for others to appreciate, or at least that’s the idea. You may not be able to get out and about too much, but taking photos, drawing and painting the perhaps over-familiar environment around you can help you to see it in a new light. Documenting the changing seasons is also a great way to deal with the sense of time passing.
If you’re lucky enough to have access to a garden during lockdown, then doing some work with the earth and plants can be a lifesaver. A deep connection to nature is good for the soul and the body. Just being out in the fresh air getting some light physical exercise will do you a world of good.
Gardening is proven to have a beneficial impact on mental health, and learning about the plants around you, seeing them grow and nurturing new life are all hugely rewarding activities. For those without a full-size garden, even a window box can help you to get a different perspective on lockdown life.
Yoga and meditation
Being stuck in a cramped indoor space for long periods has left many of us unable to get as much exercise as we’d like. The result has been something of a yoga boom, with the discipline giving a framework of physical stretches and postures that can help to keep you in shape when you can’t get out for a run or go down to the gym.
There’s more to yoga than just a regime of unlikely body positions though. It’s a way of life that helps us understand and make sense of the world around us. Key to this is the practice of meditation and, in times of stress and crisis, this deceptively simple discipline really comes into its own.
Many people swear that meditating daily has been the main thing that’s helped them through lockdown. Even as little as 15 minutes a day can make all the difference, and there are many apps and online resources to help you get the hang of it.
Having a hobby can be beneficial to your life as well as helping you to pass the time. Why not take up something new today?
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