How hobbies helped people stay positive during lockdown
During lockdown many people took up new hobbies to fill their time. We discover the benefits of having a creative focus
Juliana Ferrarini, who works in retail, wanted to use her time constructively while self-isolating in her Eastbourne flat. “Having suffered from depression in the past, I was worried about how the dark days of this pandemic would impact my mental health, so I needed to find something positive to keep my mind occupied,” she explains.
Resisting a temptation to watch the continuous coronavirus news, Ferrarini decided to use the lockdown as an opportunity to study. In April, she enrolled herself on a course run by the School of Natural Skincare.
“Since starting to use natural skincare products, I’ve always wanted to learn how to make them safely myself. But while working full-time, I’d never had the chance to do this, until lockdown began.”
She completed the course within one week. “I’ve fallen in love with making my own skincare products,” she says. “Plus, it gives me purpose and keeps me busy. I would be in a much darker place right now, if I hadn’t started doing this.”
"I would be in a much darker place right now, if I hadn’t started doing this"
She’s not alone; with millions stuck at home and unable to work during the Covid-19 crisis, many turned to hobbies to keep occupied. According to a survey by The Healthy Work Company, a workplace mental health consultancy, 22 per cent of respondents had taken up a new pastime in lockdown, while 35 per cent had rediscovered an old one.
The findings also suggested that trying out new things seemed to have a more beneficial effect – 41 per cent of those taking up a new activity reported a positive impact on their mental health, compared to 30 per cent for those focusing on old hobbies.
“Learning a new skill shifts the focus away from any anxiety you might have,” explains Olivia James, a confidence coach and trauma therapist. “When you’re enjoying taking part in a hobby, it’s easier to be curious, investigative and playful, and you’re less likely to feel stressed or snappy.”
Taking up a hobby or learning a new skill comes recommended by Public Health England, as a way of managing mental health while isolating.
Dr Daisy Fancourt, associate professor of psychobiology and epidemiology at University College London, says it can improve wellbeing in three ways: “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.”