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In pursuit of pursuits

The pandemic might have upended everything, but it has also forced people to rediscover how hobbies can distract that overworked, anxious mind.
Last Updated : 08 August 2020, 20:15 IST

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Ever wished for a survival guide to help wade through this pandemic — to keep your sanity in check? Don’t look outside for one; instead, look within. The global health crisis might have thrown plans out of gear, evoking anxiety that often accompanies uncertainty. On the upside, many have rediscovered what gives them joy or have discovered anew what engages their mind. Hobbies, science tells us, help improve our health as well as mood. Studies have consistently shown that those who engage in activities such as solving puzzles, knitting, music etc report improved moods, less stress and lower heart rates. And any hobby will do. What matters is how you engage with it. As one expert puts it, the measure of a good hobby is how “happily busy” it keeps you. And if you do practice a hobby, who knows what you will be able to accomplish? It is not uncommon to hear of people who pursued a hobby, which became a passion, which became their vocation.

Express, express!

“I have been experimenting with acrylic paints and learning how to go about colour mixing, not letting paints dry out and colour blending; this has been extremely therapeutic for me. When I see the paint glide across the canvas, I feel I am expressing myself,” says Naazli Somjee, Head ID of a high-end furniture store in Bengaluru. “The paintings I have created so far are not for public viewing, but only for my enrichment. That aside, talking to friends and family (especially video conferencing) really helps me because it is your closest friends and family who will be there when times get gloomy and even when times are good. I am blessed to be able to have my friends and family to chat with whenever I feel low and need to be distracted from negative thoughts. Talking it out to a trusted source is one thing I strongly recommend,” she adds.

Common interests

While pursuing a hobby is a great idea, the pandemic has also turned out to be a time to indulge in group activities, for a closer bonding therapy of sorts. “This pandemic gave me and my family the time to bond together by playing board games. I never knew how competitive they can get and how addictive they are. Every other night was a family game night for us; we played rounds of Sequence, Catan and Monopoly. While it’s a great idea to make time for things you usually don’t have time for, I’ve learned our regular game nights have helped me as well as my family to stay in good spirits — something that’s crucial in times like these to ensure the overwhelming feelings of stress and worry don’t wreak havoc on close family ties,” says Vikash Pacheriwal, a founder-entrepreneur.

Mind your mind

This is a great time to invest in healing, if you have always wanted to, but never found the time for. “Tough times arrive in everyone’s life, but there are tools to handle them. I use two such tools to improve mindfulness — meditation and workout for the body; these two vitals were there in my routine, although they were enhanced in the lockdown period. In the current situation, it is essential to keep your mind in a positive state to overcome all the stress and anxiety. Meditation and fitness really help to keep your mind and body in check,” avers Hari Singh, founder of a Bengaluru-based brewery.

Thinking along similar lines, Ravi Kant, founder of a real estate company says, “I enrolled for online Yoga classes as I needed to keep my mental and physical strength up. It was during this lockdown that I began enjoying and participating in webinars. Unfortunately, initially, webinars were stimulating, but after a point, the topics were all about the negative impact of the pandemic. It was then that I stopped attending,” he says.

Nalina Mahesh, a resort owner, believes developing an attitude of gratitude makes a world of difference, when things get too overwhelming. “I was so occupied spending time with my family, cooking for my family and soaking in nature that I barely allowed any negative thoughts to come to me. Naturally, there are times when we all have negative thoughts, when we wonder ‘what’s next’, but I believe in ‘this too shall pass’ and I would tell myself this all the time.”

Create, don’t hate

A volley of creative professionals believe the extended
periods of time indoors has offered an opportunity to hone their craft for the better. “I have started a podcast with a friend, called 9:59 Talks, where we interview changemakers in our communities and share their story in short episodes that are less than 10 minutes each,” says Azaan Feroz Sait, founder of a co-working space.

“Learning to record, edit and distribute the podcast has been an amazing experience. What started out as a hobby is quickly becoming something much bigger with our podcast now on Apple and Spotify; it crossed 1,000 downloads this month. Podcasting is a great way to stay engaged and be productive, while staying at home,” he adds.

For those twiddling their thumbs and wondering what next, focusing on bettering your work is a healthy way to distract the mind, believes Menaka Bhandary, an entrepreneur. “My husband and I motivate each other to do something that we truly enjoy and we try to be productive till 6 pm. I was mostly spending time trying to figure out what my strategy for my company would be, post the lockdown and how to adapt to the Covid way of life/work. Once you start giving yourself that mind space to analyse how we need to make changes and adapt to this new way of life, the outcome starts to seem more positive. I have been focusing on coming up with innovative ideas to sustain our business and find a way to make it work,” she says.

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Published 08 August 2020, 20:08 IST

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