During the pandemic, many of us started baking bread, doing puzzles, completing paint-by-number masterpieces or tackling DIY home renovation projects. And while these hobbies may have been diverting for a time, were they really the kinds of things we wanted to be doing long-term? In 2022, it’s time to be a little more strategic with your hobbies to ensure they’re truly bringing you happiness and benefiting your mental health.
This week we spoke with a variety of experts — from psychologists to wellness coaches and more — to better understand what pastimes boost positivity, encourage togetherness and improve our financial confidence. Consider this your inspiration list:
Take a stand-up comedy or improv class
Christine Agro, a meditation and mindfulness expert and master energy worker, says positivity is created by feeling joyful, hopeful, uplifted and inspired. And one easy way to stimulate those emotions is through laughter. In fact, a study found that 30 minutes of humor had the same feel-good impact as half-an-hour of yoga in lowering our blood pressure, heart rate and reducing feelings of psychological distress. And as Argo explains, chuckling releases endorphins in the brain, creating happy chemicals to boost mood and metabolism. You can start by watching stand-up comedians or take it to another level by signing up for a class. “Many places have two to four-week programs where you learn how to craft your comedy and then perform in a showcase,” she explains. “Plus, you get to interact with and meet new people, and you get to push your own boundaries.”
And by ‘something,’ truly, the act of creation, no matter what it is, is mentally beneficial, according to psychologist Dr. Yvonne Thomas, Ph.D. Having an extended period at home when we aren’t able to participate in our regular activities allows us the opportunity to adopt new inventive skills or improving ones we already have. “You can boost positivity by flexing some creative muscles through quarantine hobbies such as cooking, baking, gardening, painting, knitting, dancing, and so on,” she continues. “All of these are a form of self-expression. Especially during a time when people generally have been feeling a lack of control over the pandemic and its effects, it can feel inspiring and joyous to find ways to grow and flourish.”
Listen to 30 TED talks in 30 days
Feel like staying at home? We’ve got you covered. No, this might not be a ‘hobby’ per se, but it could become a habit you love, and most importantly, it could help inspire you to find your next big idea or passion. (At the very least, you’re guaranteed some encouragement and joy.) As Jennie Yoon, the founder of Kinn Studio, explains, TED offers a diverse deep-dive into a variety of topics, from personal growth and social change to finance and beyond, all of which provide a break from the COVID-19 news cycle. You’ll definitely learn something new — and feel happier after the chat is over. Yoon suggests going on a 30-minute walk or completing your workout of the day while you tune-in to take it to the next level. “Combining physical exercise — which increases endorphins and adrenaline, thus helping us feel positive, confident, and happier — with mental exercise is one of the sure-shot ways to start your day with freshness and positivity,” she shares. “It takes at least two to four weeks for us to form a new habit, and having a curated list of 30 talks will help put structure to the plan and make those thirty minutes every morning something you look forward to.”
Research and begin a side hustle
We all have that brewing idea in the back of our heads that we turn to when we’re feeling stressed with work or on the verge of quitting. It’s the prospect of turning your passion — from writing to art and beyond — into your hustle. If you happen to have any free time during your second quarantine, take it as a sign to invest in another income stream, which will improve your financial confidence, says Priyanka Murthy, the founder and CEO of Access79. It doesn’t have to be something huge either, she reminds, since the goal is to make it passive if you can. Her personal hustles include commercial real estate, the stock market, and cryptocurrency, which all allow her to dabble a little and hopefully, return more.
Sign up for a weekly class
Maybe you have always wanted to learn another language, but you lacked time to get started. Or, you thought about learning the piano, but it hasn’t been a priority. Consider committing to a weekly lesson of some kind that will expand your knowledge and give your brain something new to noodle on, other than work. “This hobby can increase positivity through intellectual stimulation and education,” Dr. Thomas reminds. And we love the fact that a new language can also inspire us to take our next trip somewhere exotic.
Write every day for five minutes
For those who aren’t natural wordsmiths, staring at a blank page can be daunting. But with practice, it could become your new favorite medium to express yourself, release anxieties, work through issues, and record this unique period in history. Megan Cassidy, a registered mental health counselor intern and certified teacher, suggests writing the characteristics you’ve learned about yourself during the pandemic and trying to pinpoint the silver linings of a slower life.
If you need more structure, spiritual psychologist and neuro coach Vanessa Ringel suggests hopping on the gratitude journal trend by making it a habit to write down three things you’re grateful for each morning or evening. “Where focus goes, energy flows… so by doing this very simple hobby, you will be creating neural pathways that make what you love more familiar to your subconscious mind, and therefore will help you attract more of it,” she explains.
Check your bank account instead of Instagram
It’s scary but true: we give far more attention to our social media platforms than we do to our money. This is because these channels allow us to escape from our current and disappear int one that may offer something more exciting or engaging. And, as Jenny Black, the founder of Media Trauma Care, puts it, our bank account has the opposite impact, sending us straight back to the present moment that might not be quite as rosy. “If you want to boost your financial confidence, shifting from fantasy to reality is essential,” she explains. “After a few weeks of giving your time, attention and creativity to the reality of your finances, your confidence will increase.”
Doing this can also help you figure out areas where you can save money that you aren’t taking advantage of currently. Once she adopted this practice, Black said she started to have fascinating revelations, like:
- What are all of these subscriptions for?
- We actually have money to put into savings this month!
- If we stop paying delivery fees for takeout, we can build a fire pit in our backyard.
“Taking time to click and scroll through your bank account might reveal that you have more than you think or less than you think, but most importantly, it will reveal what is real. True confidence and lasting change can only come from an awareness of our reality,” she adds.
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