Recently, on the Positive.News website, there was an article about how hobbies have helped people stay positive during lockdown. Giving ourselves something to focus on other than the pandemic is a great help to our mental health. As the article says, “Creative hobbies and learning new skills can help by distracting people from their worries; it can help them come to terms with or reappraise things and get a new perspective; plus it can really boost confidence and self-esteem.” So perhaps it is unsurprising that it is recommended by Public Health England.
So here our volunteer Claire gives her thoughts on the hobbies she’s started during lockdown…
Learning A New Language
In 2018, I went to Bilbao, Spain, for New Year. It was a wonderful experience participating in their traditions but I felt embarrassed that I only knew a few words in Spanish, so I couldn’t really hold a conversation. So I decided lockdown was a prime opportunity to learn some Spanish. I found a free online course and have spent an hour a week learning the language. I’m surprised how quickly I’ve picked it up because Spanish is quite unlike English but, doing so, has really made me feel good about myself. It has also made me feel more confident that I won’t struggle so much when I return to Bilbao sometime after the pandemic has ended.
Not having the confidence to go far from the house during the early stages of lockdown, I began to take an interest in my garden. Last year, I decided that I would “re-wild” it. However, as more and more weeds appeared (including the dreaded bindweed), that turned out not to be a good decision. So this year I’ve popped out every few days to try and keep on top of things. Surprisingly, this has helped me put the pandemic in perspective, because I see both weeds and coronavirus as things simply trying to live but harming others (be they plants or humans) in the process. Being able to keep on top of the weeds also makes me feel confident that the pandemic will be vanquished one day too.
In the last couple of years, I’ve taken up running. However, at the end of last year, I got plantar fasciitis which put me out of action for quite a while. My return to fitness coincided with the start of lockdown but, fortunately, we were allowed out for exercise. I started off running around my garden but that soon proved to be quite tiresome. So, as I grew fitter and more confident, I ventured further afield. To avoid bumping into people and risk getting the virus, I would typically set out before 6am. However, the running club I belong too, started having virtual ParkRuns. So I then agreed to team up with a local member for socially distanced runs on Saturday mornings. I find running not only improves my fitness but also my mental wellbeing and, when I meet up with others, it’s also a great social occasion. It really doesn’t matter that I come last every weekend. The fun is in the taking part.
As I have sinusitis, I’ve been told to get out for fresh air as often as I can. So every day I go out for a walk. Doing so has opened my eyes to the local history around where I live. I’ve found this fascinating and it’s really deepened my knowledge of the area. It’s also lead to me discovering bits I’d never found before like the local breck… and I didn’t even know what a breck was until I found it! So not only have my daily walks improved my health but they’ve really helped me feel connected to where I live.
When lockdown started I soon felt I was without a purpose. So I got in touch with Kirsteen to see if there was a way I could volunteer at WHISC. We agreed I would start these blogs. I now feel there is some point to my existence – that I do some good in the world – and it’s a joy to see that you read and enjoy them. It’s also a joy to see that the Centre is starting to re-open. So do take a look at the safety measures being employed to keep everyone safe. Together we will get through this.