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How Hobbies reduce Lock down Stress by Milly Daniels-Young



Hello Brixworthians! Today I would like to talk to you about the importance of hobbies, how maintaining them can reduce lock down stress and suggest some ideas of quarantine friendly hobbies. In this article, when I say hobbies, I’m describing it in the cognitive behavioural sense; a purposeful activity that brings enjoyment. These can be athletic, creative, academic or totally personal.

There is so much evidence that hobbies have great benefit to mental well being; you are less likely to suffer from stress related illnesses, low mood and depression. To promote engaging in hobbies is a major component of Cognitive Behavioural Therapy to help someone recover from depression and get them involved back in life. Research has also found the behaviour is self-perpetuating; the positive effects of engaging in a hobby can last until the next day which gives a person motivation to engage in the hobby again. This leads to a positive upward spiral to self-maintaining well being. Hobbies also support mental well being by allowing you to engage in known techniques like social connection,a sense of achievement and improving self-esteem.

Engaging in hobbies that you enjoy cause something called “Flow State” (Csikszentmihalyi, 1990) and it this that makes hobbies truly unique and invaluable. I can guarantee that everyone has experienced Flow in their life, when a challenge or activity is absorbing enough but not overwhelming that time seems be flying by (i.e. you think you’ve being doing knitting for 10 minutes but it turns out you’ve there for an 1 hour). For me, I experience Flow when playing team sports or engaging with the children at my (ex) job. That feeling of pure enjoyment, achievement and learning all rolled into one (just describing it is making me happy). Flow State produces Serotonin and Endorphins (happy brain chemicals) which makes your brain crave to engage in the activity again as well as lift mood and improve mental health. This is why taking part in hobbies whilst in lock down is so important, it helps pass the time in an enjoyable and fulfilling way. In flow there is no worry of failure and no external stressors or distractions, it is a balance between using known skills and developing new ones.

However, you are probably thinking “yes I have experienced Flow State but I didn’t try to do those things specifically, it just happens”. Yes, that is why it’s so magical; all these great things happen without you even having to try! All you have to do is find the activities that cause your flow and do them.

That brings me to the second part of my post, quarantine friendly hobbies. I can appreciate that team sports and group creative activities are not possible at the moment. However, there are lots of solo hobbies to try. Academic things like learning a new language or brushing up on your mental maths. Creative hobbies stretch far and wide; painting, drawing, music (whether that be playing an instrument, singing or just listening to music), reading or listening to an audio book, learning a dance (TikTok is great for popular dance trends to get involved in), knitting or sewing (something I’ve picked up in the last two weeks). Athletic activities that are quarantine friendly might be a solo bike ride, a follow along YouTube workout, trying yoga (Downdog is a great app that is offering free membership during lock down).

Hobbies don’t have to be long term; you can partake for two weeks and then stop when it is no longer giving you enjoyment. Perhaps you can use this time to pick up an old activity or give a new one a try? Maybe you and your partner could swap hobbies and try each other’s?

Long and short of it:

· Hobbies are well known to reduce stress

· Hobbies cause flow state that provide many benefits

· There are lots of quarantine friendly activities try

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