These days, scrolling through your social media feed or any news site is enough to make you want to pack up your belongings and head for some remote location far, far away. With the COVID-19 pandemic and everything else happening around the world, many find themselves struggling mentally, emotionally, and physically. To say the past several months have been rough is a bit of an understatement.
As we all try to navigate this strange new world, starting a new hobby, or picking up an old one can have a positive influence on your mental health. Journaling, among other activities such as musical instruments or even exercise, can provide some much-needed escapism. It also presents an opportunity to vent out all your frustrations, fears, hopes, and everything else that comes with the current pandemic situation.
If you’re ready to try a new hobby or pick up an old one, here are some tips to help you along your journey:
Avoid Creative Burnout
Journaling has many proven mental health benefits. It presents the chance to look closer into our minds and heart, to be vulnerable and creative, and can help us re-center ourselves. Through journaling, we can collect and reflect on the various moments in our lives. This in turn provides comfort whenever we start to feel anxious or lost. Journaling, when combined with other healthy lifestyle choices such as meditation and a well-balanced diet, can also make it a lot easier to deal with this strange, unsettling time in history.
However, while journaling is a great hobby to start or pick back up, it can become draining if not managed properly. Of course, any hobby presents this risk, but considering the nature of journaling, it often does require a lot of strong, focused creative energy. If you’re not used to that process, it could result in some negative effects such as creative burnout.
In order to really get the most out of your journaling and other hobbies, it’s important that you focus on switching up tasks that can promote better creative thinking. Creatively speaking, many people struggle with putting too much pressure on themselves. Our hobbies are no exception. Whether we feel the need to be “the best” or somehow capitalize on our hobbies, channeling all of our energy into one task is sure to result in some major burnout that may lead to never picking up journaling or another hobby again. You also don’t reap as many mental health benefits when you box yourself in.
If you think about your diet, for instance, bananas are extremely beneficial in terms of nutrition. They’re a good source of vitamin B6 and C, have potassium for energy, and aid in digestion. However, if you only ever eat bananas, no matter how healthy they are, you’ll still be missing other essential nutrition. Having a well-rounded set of hobbies can help ensure you’re optimizing all the mental and emotional health benefits.
Expand Your Hobbies
One of the best aspects of hobbies is there is something for everyone. However, because there are so many different kinds of hobbies to try, it can also become overwhelming trying to find the few you enjoy most. It’s also fair to note that trying anything new for the first time can be intimidating and requires quite a bit of time in order to decide if you like it or not.
Learning something new also takes courage. As adults, we often convince ourselves that we’re too old or too busy to learn a new language or how to cook. However, doing activities like learning how to play an instrument can improve your mental health by boosting your self-esteem and reducing stress and anxiety. So, if it’s something you’ve always wanted to try, you really have no reason not to.
Playing an instrument provides a similar sense of creative freedom that journaling does. It can understandably be a lot louder and more disruptive, though. That being said, these days, even if you're confined to a small apartment, there are several apartment-friendly instruments worth trying if you want to pick up music as a hobby:
- Ukulele: This instrument is especially perfect for small spaces as it’s compact enough that it can be stored just about anywhere. It’s also a very light, mellow sounding instrument that would actually be rather difficult to play loud enough to annoy your neighbors.
- Keyboard: Different from pianos, keyboards are smaller, and with their built-in speakers, quieter as well. While it is possible to crank up the speakers on most keyboards, it’s also easy to keep the music you create at a moderate level. Most keyboards have a place to plug in headphones as well.
- Digital Drums: If you’re more interested in a percussion instrument but know there is no way a new drum set would fly in your apartment complex, there is always the option of digital drum pads. It’s also a great way for beginners to learn the fundamentals of sample-based music.
While you might really want to try learning a different (louder) instrument, sometimes our living situations simply don’t really allow that. In the meantime, learning to read music and channeling your inner musician is still possible with quieter, still fun to learn instruments.
Learning to play an instrument is obviously just one example of another hobby you can add to your journaling interests. Furthermore, with the addition of new hobbies, you might find a rejuvenation with your journaling and can focus on setting even more goals and achieving more successes.
When In Doubt, Get Outside
If you’re a bit short on time or space or room within your budget to fund a new hobby, go simpler. Exercise can be a great, affordable hobby. While we all know the importance of exercising for health, going to the gym doesn’t exactly read like a hobby. And for a lot of people, it’s not. However, heart-pumping activities like hiking or swimming are not only beneficial forms of exercise but present so many opportunities to escape from the troubles of your world.
Hiking is a great hobby as it’s not only physically beneficial but you can also bring your journal along and spend time jotting down all the beautiful scenery you see and unique sounds you hear. You can also press wildflowers you find along the way into your journal. Just don’t accidentally grab something toxic such as poison ivy.
Any outdoor hobby can have positive effects on your mental health. Getting outside shifts your perspective, uplifts your mood, and can help squash those annoying, draining negative thoughts. While COVID-19 has certainly put a pin in some of our favorite activities like attending concerts and going out to drink with friends, it’s important to take a break from doomscrolling on your couch and get some fresh air. Hiking, biking, or running are some great examples of social-distanced hobbies. As long as you don’t think of it as a chore, exercising outside is a hobby that you can continue utilizing long after the world has recovered from COVID-19.
With the pandemic keeping us stuck inside for most hours of the day, finding ways to take better care of our mental health is essential. Journaling is just one positive hobby you can start in order to make these stressful days a bit more enjoyable. Be flexible, creative, and patient and soon you’ll be reaping the mental, physical, and emotional benefits that come with a variety of different hobbies and interests.
Another great resource for Exercising for your Mental Health: https://www.yanrefitness.com/the-benefits-of-exercise-while-working-from-home/
Author bio: Frankie Wallace is a freelance writer from the Pacific Northwest. She writes about a variety of topics and spends her free time gardening.