Starting a hobby during the pandemic

Published in Eastern Visayas Journal on July 1, 2021

We can look at lockdowns and quarantines either positively or negatively. As an optimist, I look at these times as opportunities to rest and be safe as we ride out one of the most unsettling periods in modern history. On the other hand, it is difficult to ignore the impact of the global pandemic on our daily lives. It is the cause of unemployment, business downsizing or shutdowns, and a general uncertainty for the future. Family members, especially those living and working overseas, are unable to travel to the Philippines to be with their loved ones. Events, while still happening, are organized with modifications and limitations.

We cannot go against local and international laws restricting movement, but we can continue to stay connected and productive within the limited confines of our places. With the help of the internet, people are busy with online businesses as their way to replace lost income. Students are working on the requirements for their continuing education. Others keep in touch with family and friends through various social media platforms and apps.

We also need to think about hobbies for our mental health and select self-care activities to help us our brains stay productive and cope with the physical, social, and emotional isolation. In her Bizwomen article, Anne Stych listed reading (61%), followed by baking or cooking (36%), gardening (30%), meditation (29%) and writing (26%) as the most popular hobbies Americans started during the pandemic.

In the Philippines, CNN Philippines reported that collecting items like toys have surged in popularity among Filipinos. All these activities do not necessarily need the internet to get started too.

Coloring books are also becoming popular and have even been listed in bestseller lists. We all remember coloring at school as one of the more pleasurable learning tasks in the classroom. While the educational purpose was to develop our gross and fine motor skills, we also discovered the visual effect and beauty of color combinations.

We figured out how much pressure to put on crayons to deliver the perfect hue for our drawings and to stay within the lines. It kept us occupied and safe while parents continued with household chores or do other things. It is no wonder then that restaurants have coloring sheets and crayons available for young patrons.

Coloring for adults is a healthy hobby with similar benefits that reading, baking or gardening provides us. According to Cleveland Clinic, there are three reasons why coloring is good for us. It is meditative, relaxing, and pleasurable. Coloring relaxes the amygdala in our brain, quieting our minds and soothing our anxieties. It trains our brains to focus and be engaged in the present.

While this used to be a solitary activity, coloring is also fast becoming a social activity. People are meeting online and in person to color together and chat at the same time.The beauty of coloring is that we don’t have to be talented artists to enjoy this hobby.

With a coloring book and a set of colored pencils, we can easily have hours of peace and mindfulness anytime of the day. With everything the world is going through right now, we need hobbies like coloring to bring comfort and normalcy to our daily lives.

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