While the world is slowly returning to some level of normality, who can forget that a good chunk of 2020 was spent indoors. Some might’ve used this time to burn through their Netflix queues, while others embarked on a wholesome journey of self-improvement and took up a million hobbies (read: learned to make sourdough from scratch) and reaped the mental wellbeing benefits of learning something new.
Just because we’re back out in the great beyond, doesn’t mean we should scrap all the hobbies we acquired during lockdown. In fact, we should make it our mission to keep bettering ourselves and pick up new skills for the rest of this year (and all eternity while we’re at it).
When it comes to the number of hobbies you can acquire, the limit quite literally does not exist. There’s always more room in your brain to pick up new skills and there are endless benefits to doing so. Lifelong learning is not only great for your mental wellbeing but can help refresh old and unhelpful thought patterns, improving our ability to make decisions and solve problems.
If you’re keen to keep riding the self-improvement train, we’ve rounded up 8 wholesome hobbies to add to your hit list – we promise they’ll be fun.
Lend an ear
Podcasts have struck the perfect balance between books and TV, while somehow being neither. You can listen to them in bed, in the bath or on a walk and they’re the perfect way to entertain and educate on the go.
Luckily for us, people seem to love making them as much as we love listening to them, so there’s no shortage of bangers out there to provide endless entertainment. Whether you’re looking for soul music, sleeping stories or a history lesson – there’s something out there for every kind of listener. If you’ve been promising to practice mindfulness but never seem to find the time, a little poddy episode a day is just the ticket. The Mindful Kind by Rachael Kable is the top-rated mindfulness podcast around, filled with useful info on topics like managing stress at work, handling decision-making anxiety and positive activities to start your day. Get around it el pronto and start prioritising your mental wellbeing.
Get those hands dirty
Most of us probably don’t realise this, but you don’t have to be an artist to make awesome art. The best part about getting creative is the actual process, not the end result. Getting your hands dirty and having a laugh along the way is a great way to destress and unwind – plus you might even have something to hang on the mantelpiece at the end of it. There are so many ways you can get both arty and crafty, from making origami to painting by numbers and pottery – it’s just about finding the right medium that speaks to you. It takes a little bit of trial and error but you’ll learn a lot about yourself in the process.
Rachael Sarra is an incredible Indigenous artist and designer who understands the transformative power of art. In fact, she backs it so hard that she’s partnered with Queensland Health for their mental wellbeing campaign, Dear Mind. Reflecting on what her artistic creativity has done for her, she said “Art has been pivotal in maintaining a healthy wellbeing. It is able to give me a voice when I don’t have the words to express how I’m feeling. That process allows me to process what I’m feeling in a way that I’m still comfortable.”
And, when it comes to getting started, Rachael says the best thing to do is jump right in without overthinking it. “Just get in and start. Explore an art store and ask some questions about the products or tools that stand out to you. A lot of art stores also offer casual classes through the week. A lot of artists found their niche through experimenting and making mistakes” she said.
Get a lil’ mindful
Mindfulness is huge right now – and for good reason. It’s all about training your mind to focus on the present moment and is an amazing addition to your self-care routine. The range of benefits are wildly extensive but include reducing stress, managing depression and anxiety, improving attention and boosting creativity. Are you ready to sign up?
If you’re keen to make mindfulness your new hobby but aren’t quite sure where to start, the App Store is actually a great place. Here, there are hundreds of apps you can download that’ll help you incorporate a daily mindfulness practice. A few picks include Aura, Calm and Coloring Book for Me. You’ll need to keep at it for at least five to ten minutes a day for a few weeks, but once you feel the benefits there’s no going back.
Bend yo’ brain with a puzzle
By definition, hobbies are things you do for pleasure, and what greater pleasure is there in this life than defeating a seemingly impossible puzzle? There is no shortage of puzzles out there to bend your brain and improve your abstract reasoning – plus it’s a great way to pass the time if you’ve got a few minutes to spare here or there or a dedicated couple of hours.
If you love to torture yourself, you could even get one of those rainbow or black jigsaw puzzles. That’ll keep you busy for days if not weeks and you’ll almost certainly be a better person by the end of it. Plus, if you’re keen to get around some more family time or organise a housemate bonding sesh – nothing will bring you closer than the satisfaction of a communally built puzzle, trust me.
Grab your baking apron
Last year, you probably noticed thousands of people take up baking as a wholesome way to pass the time. Why? It’s fun, educational and you get to enjoy a delicious treat at the end – a triple win.
Whether you’re baking homemade sourdough, focaccia or a delicious banana bread – getting your bake on is an incredibly rewarding activity and has actually been described as ‘meditation in disguise’. Yep, it’s really therapeutic to make something with your hands and take a break from life’s stresses.
Once you’ve made something a few times and perfected the flavour, texture and look – you’re guaranteed to feel all kinds of satisfied. Make sure to enjoy your creation once it’s fresh out the oven, you deserve it.
Have a stitch up
Last year, everyone got really into stitching as yet another way to pass the time and honestly, we still back it. When the world gets a little too much, stitching reminds us of a simpler time when you could just sit down and make magic with coloured thread.
There are a million and one tutorials online that’ll show you how to use a needle and thread. It looks a lot harder than it is but it’s like riding a bike – once you know how it’s done it’s pretty difficult to forget. Once you’ve got the logistics down pat, you could sew your mum a beautiful cushion cover or make a voodoo doll of your ex – the sky is the limit really. Plus, it’s one of those forever skills that always comes in handy – especially when that pesky button falls off your favourite coat yet again. We might be living in the 21st century but this is one skill that isn’t going anywhere, now is the time to lean in.
Get a sweat on
Exercise has way more benefits than whipping us into shape. It’s just as good for our mental wellbeing as it is for our physical health, so getting a wriggle on in one way or another is a great all-rounder hobby.
Studies have shown that doing 30 minutes (or more) of exercise a day for 3-5 days a week causes our bodies to release feel-good endorphins and can take our mind off worries. If you’re not keen to pound the pavement with an energising walk or a 10km run, slower-paced activities like yoga and pilates are just as effective.
Flirt with getting fluent
While international travel is currently off the cards, there has never been a better time to knuckle down and learn a language. If you’re wondering why it pays to speak a different dialect – benefits of multilingualism include a boost in brain power, improved memory and enhanced decision-making. If you’re scarred from your year 8 French exam, don’t be alarmed. It can take as little as 15 minutes a day to school up in a new language. Apps like Babbel and Duolingo are a great place to start, you’ll be bilingual before you know it.
When international travel reopens and you’re jet setting around the globe, you’ll be speaking like a true local – super helpful when you’re lost or need to locate the best croissant in Paris.