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Hobbies and the positive affects on our mental health!

Jun 8, 2020 | Jessica Rochon, Student Triage Navigator

Pandemic hobbies are becoming a lot more popular since there is little to do.   In my young adult life, I didn’t have any hobbies and I felt somewhat disconnected from my peers.  I wasn’t an athlete, I played the piano when I was young, but I didn’t pursue that as I got older.  I didn’t volunteer any where, or have any special talents.  I was envious of people who had their ‘thing’.  I always thought ‘if I had more time, I would be able to come up with something’.  Since quarantine, I have decided to take up gardening.  I am blessed to have ‘inherited’ some flower gardens, and have a tall order to fill when the previous owner was known for her flowers.   The house was vacant for a year before we moved in, and the gardens were over grown.  Much to my surprise, I found roses that were hiding behind an overgrown bush!  It’s funny what you find out about yourself in the midst of surprises.  I was super excited about the prospect of having roses and since then, they have become my favourite flower (or maybe they always were?).  Roses bring me back to my hometown where my mom has beautiful wild roses and my grandparents planted rose bushes on their property when I was little.  I had roses at my wedding, and the smell is so beautiful, and sweet.  I bought a rose smelling perfume for a ‘mile stone’ moment I wanted to remember (more to come about this concept!)  Last summer was a ‘look and see’, and now that I have an idea as to what has been intentionally planted, it’s been fun to get outside, listen to the birds, pull out weeds, and plant new things!

Since being at home with little excitement, or variety of people to talk to, I’ve named some of the plants that I am diligently trying to keep alive.  I can see why the Volleyball ‘Wilson’ in the film Castaway was a good friend to Tom Hanks J.   In times where we feel isolated, it’s nice to feel connected and in my case it’s ‘Heuy, Dewy, Louis’: the wild roses bushes, ‘Don Juan’: the rose bush I planted, and ‘The Ladies’:  the two hydrangea bushes.

Since embarking on this new adventure, I’ve come to realize that there are many benefits to having a hobby! 

  1. A hobby lets you connect with others with similar interests:  I am enjoying reaching out to people who have a green thumb to get their opinion on what I should do, how to prevent frost from killing them, ‘is this dead?’ text messages, Facebook messages or emails.  Referring to expert hobbyists also gives them a sense of pride that they can offer education!  People who have hobbies love to talk about them (ever talk to a runner?), so the benefits are a two way street.  You get the information you’re looking for, and they get to share some of their expertise!  Start a book club, or a virtual group on Facebook to connect with others that have the same hobby!
  2. A hobby is a job well done:  It feels so good when we have accomplished something.  Whether we have finished a book we have had on the back burner, learned a new song on an instrument, or ran for 5 minutes straight on the treadmill without a break; that sense of satisfaction is undeniable!
  3. A hobby can give you a sense of purpose:  When we have something that we are working towards, we have a sense of purpose.  Even if that goal is years away!  Maybe we are researching, or practicing!  A hobby can be far reaching, and not just ‘stop go’.  It might involve downloading music books, or reading a ‘best seller list’ to get ideas for your the next book.  In my case, it’s researching the best ways to fertilize and protect my plants! 
  4. A hobby can add structure to your day:  Right now, our social interactions are on hold and we can easily be sucked into a ‘Netflix’ hole.  Having a hobby that’s scheduled into our day gives us the structure and routine that we are lacking!  Maybe you make a pact with yourself that you can’t read your book until you’ve had a shower, or you have to put on ‘real clothes’ before you practice the guitar?
  5. Your hobby makes you happy: For the most part.  When I got my hair stuck in the thorns of my rose bush, I was not very happy in the moment (and I’m sure my neighbours were questioning my sanity), but once these beautiful flowers begin to bloom, I am going to be so excited and so happy to just admire their beauty!
  6. Your hobby can manage stress: You’re taking a break from your stressors when you do something you enjoy.  I would argue hobbies can be considered a form of mindfulness.  When you are transported to ‘Hogwarts’ while reading Harry Potter, you aren’t thinking about what to make for dinner.  Long distance running is hard, and it’s likely all you’re thinking about is getting through that 5 minutes to push yourself; not what is on your ‘to-do’ list.

If you haven’t taken up a new hobby, try it!  If you have, tell us what new hobbies you have been up to since quarantine?!  How does your new hobby make you feel?  We would love to hear it!!  If you don’t know where to start with hobbies, take a look at any one of these three links, with free to low cost options (keep in mind, due to COVID, some of these may not be an option right now):


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