Well-Being//

10 Meaningful Hobbies We’ve Discovered During the Pandemic

New skills and passion projects are helping us stay positive and resilient.

Sebra/ Shutterstock
Sebra/ Shutterstock

There’s no doubt that the events of this year have changed our lives in ways we could never have imagined, fundamentally shifting the way we work, live, and connect with one another. But amidst all of the changes and uncertainties, there have also been some positives. For one thing, many of us have had the opportunity to revisit forgotten pastimes, learn new skills and languages, and take on interesting passion projects while spending more time at home.

We asked our Thrive community to share with us the hobbies and passions they’ve discovered this year. Which of these have you tried?

Free movement dancing

“A passion I’ve rediscovered this year is free movement dancing. I used to teach yoga and fitness classes in my free time, so with the new space in my schedule, I’ve been able to experiment with other types of movement. I’ve found so much joy and freedom in putting in my AirPods, blasting different types of music, and letting my body move accordingly. Dancing allows me the space to shake, move, feel, cry, express, and surrender. It is one of the few practices that allows me to truly get out of my head and into my body to see and feel what’s happening in there.”

—Rachel Jeffries, entrepreneur, Chicago, IL

Reading

“This year, I have discovered my long lost habit of reading books. I realize now that I have missed it so much! In the span of two months, I’ve finished reading nine great non-fiction books. Reading gives me a feeling of accomplishment and delight. I’m on my tenth book now!”

—Aakriti Agarwal, facilitator and coach, Hyderabad, India 

Bird watching

“I’ve always had a bird feeder in my backyard, but didn’t really pay that much attention to it until this year. I get great joy and a feeling of calm by watching the birds and other wildlife from my back door. I like watching the birds change with the seasons and I’ve started learning how different foods attract different birds. It’s also been a way for my daughter and I to connect and share a common interest. She’s home, taking her college classes virtually while I’m working from home full-time. It’s definitely the silver lining to a crazy year!”

—Mary M., HR professional, Downingtown, PA

Short story writing

“Earlier in the year, I found my diary completely blank as a result of travel bans. With my new found ‘free time,’ I decided to start writing short stories for children, and it has been the most joyful experience to immerse myself in something that is fun, creative, and so different from what I normally do. I completed my first project this summer and seeing the little book in my children’s bookshelf always cheers me up. And the kids seem to like it too!”

—Leticia Corbisier, head of online learning, London, UK

Puzzle solving

“One thing that I have rediscovered this year is my love for puzzles. My family always had a puzzle on the table while I was growing up. My dad would hide a piece so that he could be the one to put in the last piece. I cannot think about the fun we had without smiling. Life got busy and I eventually let working on puzzles go to the wayside, but the year 2020 had me searching for puzzles to help ease the stress of the year. As we head into the winter, we will keep the puzzles going. I have made sure we have quite a few to choose from. The stress relief, the togetherness, the fun and laughter — those are things I don’t ever want to lose again. The puzzles are here to stay.”

—Carrie Verrocchio, motivational speaker, podcaster, author, and coach, Binghamton, NY 

Sewing

“I’ve enjoyed sewing as a hobby since I was a kid. It has resurfaced a number of times over the years, and the thread that runs through the passion comes down to the joy of making something special for someone else. During COVID, with my four children all grown up, I’ve had time to make ‘get-the-look’ outfits for my daughters, hobby related aprons for my sons and friends, have converted unused garments, and made special costumes and masks. I’ve also had time to improve my technical skills. This has allowed me to not only ‘walk-the-talk’, but also to release lockdown stress by concentrating on a productive hobby that brings joy to others. For many of us, relaxing needs to be active’ and sewing certainly fits the bill!”

—Janine Manning, co-founder and CFO, London, UK

Hula hooping

“This year, I discovered the joy of hula hooping! During the first lockdown, I bought a hula hoop, thinking it was something I could do inside our apartment with minimal space. At first, I couldn’t keep the hoop around my waist for longer than 30 seconds and my technique was so poor, but I have since strengthened my core through practice and can now hoop for five minutes. I’ve even started taking a six-week beginners class to introduce variety into my hooping. The hobby brings me so much joy. I put my favorite music on and sing full blast. You have to think about what you are doing to include your arms, legs and core, so it brings you into the present moment and away from any worries, to-do lists, or ruminating thoughts.”

—Helen Snape, relationship coach, Surrey, UK

Piano playing

“I bought a piano earlier this year and started taking piano and voice lessons. I even learned how to play Jingle Bells just in time for the holidays. There is no denying that music heals, music unites, and music moves our soul. I believe that’s what we need more than ever this year.”

—Lisa Pezik, business strategist, Ontario, Canada

Podcasting

“I’ve recently discovered podcasting. I’ve always considered myself someone who enjoys expressing myself in creative forms, but I’ve also gone through moments of being timid and shy. Podcasting has given me a platform to overcome my fear of public speaking or sharing things I doubted were worthy of sharing. To my surprise, from my conversations with guests, I’ve also gained a whole new community of other podcasters and women that I’ve inherited so much new knowledge from.”

—Cecilia Grey, content creator and podcast host, Santa Barbara, CA

Forest bathing

“This year, I’ve been loving the Japanese practice of ‘Shinrin Yoku’ or forest bathing. I’ve been going into the woods and taking in nature’s lifeblood through all of my senses — touching and hugging the trunks, breathing in and smelling the bark, listening to the gentle groans of the trees as they sway in the wind, hearing the bees buzzing, birds singing, and watching the bright green shoots of life emerge from underneath the fallen leaves. Forest bathing involves no phones and no cameras. It’s helped me release stress, find calm, and connect with nature.”

—Giles Sibbald, co-founder of Hey Sunday, UK

Is there a hobby or passion you’ve discovered or rediscovered this year? Share it with us in the comments!

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