Essay About COVID-19 Sparks New Hobbies In Desire For Distraction

Who Knew We’d Be Trying So Many Things?

It’s been nearly two months since Canada went into lockdown in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic. At first, I know I was struggling to find things to do; I’m so used to being on the go, either on my own or with my two children, that I was at loose ends trying to figure out how to spend my time. I couldn’t go to school to teach my students, and I couldn’t engage in my usual hobbies beyond running. What the heck was I supposed to do with myself besides walk the dogs and go for a run?

Perhaps unsurprisingly, I had many friends who found themselves in the same boat. We were all supposed to stay home and limit our excursions outdoors to travels to get the bare essentials or even just to exercise our dogs. There was a shortage on several key parts of anyone’s list of essentials – never mind the toilet paper, but stores were rapidly selling out of yeast, flour, milk and eggs because of panic buying in the early stages of the pandemic in North America. That made trying to bake in order to pass the time extremely challenging.

So what then?

Some people have taken up different forms of exercise, such as yoga or tabata. Some have expanded their repertoire of reading material. Some, like my husband, have opted to try something really different – he’s making mead, so I’ve had to go and ensure he has spring, not distilled, water on hand as he’s been preparing things for eventual racking into bottles.

I have another friend and colleague who has undertaken a different project with other musicians, and he’s making another album separate from his usual band. I can hear the excitement in his voice when we discuss this undertaking, and his excitement is even more palpable when I realize he’s actually messaging me from his basement studio, working on another cut. My daughter has started needlework and made me a lovely project for Mother’s Day.

When. the initial panic buying finally settled and yeast, flour and eggs became more widely available, the great North American bake off appeared to begin. People were making artisanal loaves of bread. Others were trying new recipes for loaves, pastas and chicken.

To be sure, our screen time has also likely collectively gone up as a society, and that is unlikely to change in the near future given school, right now, is being conducted online. It’s also likely that video gamers have been having a field day with the increased number of people at home and the desire for an escape from the routine that seems so dry and unchanging lately.

Really, even though there have been celebrities (yes, we’re looking at you, Gwyneth Paltrow) who have been widely criticized for suggesting people should try something new like studying a new language, there are those who have most definitely taken this time that we’re spending mostly at our homes to take on new challenges. Admittedly, during this time people do have bigger fish to fry in many cases, as they might have someone who’s a frontline worker in their family or family members or friends who might be struggling with illness.

However, people are understanding what toll this quarantine and period of isolation is doing to people’s mental health, and in many cases, undertaking a forgotten hobby or even a new hobby can be very curative. There’s something to be said for the excitement that comes from trying something new or even restarting something you used to love. There’s a spirit of anticipation that comes with trying new things and when you might have some time to engage in new activities, and that definitely can help improve your mental health.

The sense of isolation that’s resulted from minimizing our contact with the outside world has a significant impact on people’s mental health, but the fact that people have started to turn to new hobbies in order to stay busy is a very positive coping mechanism in the wake of a global pandemic. Whether we are trying fresh baking, new forms of exercise, or new activities as a whole, the COVID-19 pandemic has sparked a movement of new activity that perhaps none of us expected.