Contributed and written by Katie Morris
Like you, we’ve been hearing and reading quite a lot about pandemic hobbies. As it turns out, a year and-a-half in on-and-off isolation will lead people to seek out new activities. And while these activities serve a number of different purposes, some of the most interesting ones were those that contributed to mindfulness. Beyond seeking entertainment and ways to pass the time, a lot of people wound up practicing pandemic hobbies that helped them to cope with stress and settle their minds.
With plenty of people still spending large amounts of time isolated at home, we thought we’d identify a few of these hobbies.
Meditation doesn’t strike everybody as a hobby, but for many that’s just what it becomes. And as was stated in our post on spiritual wellness at the height of the pandemic, it’s one of the most foolproof methods for getting in touch with your inner self. Meditation won’t cure anxieties or fix the situations that cause you stress. But if you make a regular practice or hobby of it, your mind will be spending more time at rest, and you’ll be less likely to feel overwhelmed. Plus, you may just become more adept at centering yourself over the course of a given day, even if you aren’t actively meditating.
Cooking is another hobby a lot of people picked up during the pandemic. Some who would all themselves novices took the opportunity to spend a little more time learning and practicing in their kitchens. Others who already knew how to cook spent some time improving skills and perfecting recipes. Regardless of the specific circumstances though, cooking has been referred to by some as good meditation in disguise. It’s a chance to practice simple and repetitive tasks, enjoy some time to yourself, and shut out the outside world a little bit. For many, that makes for the perfect reset.
Several reports have indicated that a lot of people took up poker during the pandemic, and while many undoubtedly did so to have fun and socialize, the game also makes for a good way to settle the mind and recharge. One reason for this is that the game requires focus and quiet, which in effect means quieting everything else going on in your mind. Additionally though, poker involves some repetitive tasks that steady the mind, not unlike those involved in cooking. The more you play, the more you learn to log poker hand rankings in your mind, recall past hands, and even assess shifting odds in real time. This all takes skill and practice, but it’s also a nice mental workout that can take your mind off of day-to-day stress factors.
Poker is one form of gaming that many turned to during the pandemic. However, plenty of others also made use of more traditional forms of gaming — through apps, PCs, consoles, and the like. In these cases, meditative quality depends largely on the specific game, how long it’s played, and so on. Furthermore, the topic of video games and stress relief is somewhat unsettled. Nevertheless, plenty of people find that a moderate amount of time spent on a video game makes for an ideal escape from the real world. It’s not a cure for anything, but it can be an effective reset, and a lot of people found gaming to be a helpful hobby for that basic reason.
Finally, there’s reading! A lot of people used the pandemic to knock a few books off their lists, or to go back and read old favorites. Some even set up remote book clubs so that they could add a social aspect to the hobby. Whatever the case, we know that reading was among the most popular pandemic hobbies, and certainly one of the best for settling people’s minds. Reading is a tried-and-true method of escapism — a wonderful way to settle down racing thoughts and ease some stress. It’s never been a more valuable hobby than in recent months.
There are many more pandemic hobbies than just these, to be sure. But reading, gaming, playing poker, cooking, and practicing meditation are particularly effective for those who feel a need to settle their minds from time to time.