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Finding New Hobbies Amidst a Pandemic



The Covid-19 lockdown changed a lot of lives in many positive ways despite all the challenges. On the positive side, many people discovered new hobbies or returned to hobbies they loved but for one reason or another, set aside for a while.

A 2016 study by Wiley Online Library suggests that people who engage in hobbies, especially creative ones, actually perform better at work, so keeping those hobbies intact can also have economic benefits. But if these last few months have shown us anything, it’s important to take a break from those stressful work schedules which suddenly surrounded us 24/7.

With this in mind, we wanted to know what our MREC family was doing to cope with stress and more time at home during the long weeks of lock down, so we reached out and asked people to share about their hobbies or interests.

Since restaurants were closed for so long, many of us have had to rethink our eating habits, often for the better. Ruth Ann Rousey of Eldersburg said she’s gotten back to cooking again. She shared how, before the pandemic, she was eating out a lot.

“I have rediscovered the fun in cooking and am trying new recipes and techniques,” she said.

Others, like Patrick Dinna, Linda Wheatley and Jenn Steen all say they are gardening again. “I planted a bunch of fruit trees, Patrick said. “And started a vineyard.”  Linda created a beautiful straw bail garden which now has huge vines trailing down the sides.

Activities like these correlate to higher levels of positive mindsets and lower levels of depression. Fresh air, combined with creative activities helps us use our time wisely and also decrease our chances of burnout and even stave off illness for some.

In our Facebook survey, several people, like Josie Tipton and Ellen Forsberg, and Bill and Anne McKenna, all said they were spending time going through old photos, organizing, enjoying them and sharing them in online posts. Others, like Dave Highfield researched family history on ancestry.com. He discovered
something quite unique.

“My Highfield roots go back to Cheshire, England,” he said. “And the learning never stops.”

While studying her family history, Krista Kniesler realized she has ancestral connections dating back 400 years to the Pilgrim’s landing at Plymouth Rock.

“I just sent in lineage to the Mayflower Society for several ancestors,” Krista said. “It’s boggling my mind. The Society has to review them, and then they will ask for some documents.”

Jill Kristen works in the local ER, and she and her sister started Bible Journaling. You pick out key words, visualize them, and then add thoughts and artistic flair to the white spaces in your bible, personalizing it, just for you. (See accompanying photo.)

Jamie Hobert said her young daughter has become known as “Farmer Lucy.”

“She now has six chickens, a coop, and a garden,” she said. (see photo).

During the lockdown, some connected with others by serving. Debbie Temple made masks for medical professionals, while MREC volunteer, Peggy Hayes was making prayer shawls for two local churches who give
them to nursing homes or hospice facilities, Hayes said. (See photo).

MREC Board member, Coleen Kramer-Beal was being creative, too.

“I made my first old-t-shirt blanket,” she said. “It’s been on my to-do list for decades!” (see photo.)

MREC Executive Director Amy Gilford did a lot of walking. For 45 straight days she walked two miles or more and spent the time catching up on podcasts or just soaking in creation. She made it a point to note five unusual things that stood out to her to help her focus on her surroundings and keep her mind from wandering to stresses and worries.

Do you have a hobby?  If not, it isn’t too late to take up a new interest or activity to help improve your health, reduce stress and think more creatively.

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