With the COVID-19 crisis having no end in sight, at least for this year, we need to find healthy and safe ways to blow off steam and take breaks from our work. The start of a year is the perfect time to explore new activities that enrich our lives, add value to our days, and help keep our bodies, minds, and emotions healthy. Here are some healthy and productive hobbies for people who work desk jobs or jobs that require us to stare at computer screens all day.
Outdoor non-contact sports
Since the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) says that outdoor activities are in the low-risk tier of infection potential, it’s better to go for sports that allow you to breathe fresh air and provide enough space to keep a safe physical distance from others. Some of these hobbies, sports, and activities include:
- Hiking. If you live near a state or national park that not a lot of people go to, consider going on a hike to enjoy nature’s wonders and to provide yourself an escape from the four corners of your home office. Hiking is greatly beneficial for our brains because it allows us to clear our minds of our anxieties and worries and provides enough physical activity to help improve our stamina and fitness.
- Fly fishing has also seen a rise in popularity in the past few years. No longer is it an activity that only our dads and uncles can enjoy—it’s an activity that naturally provides social distancing, relatively affordable because all you need is a body of water and a fly rod, and can help decrease stress and anxiety since it’s intrinsically calming and meditative.
- Another outdoor sport or activity that is pandemic-safe, healthy, and productive for us is skiing. It’s an activity that doesn’t entail us staying in enclosed spaces. Everyone already wears ski masks, and ski resorts are generally spacious enough to accommodate many people without requiring everyone to stand too close together. All you need is a thermal jacket, goggles, gloves, a pair of Nordica ski boots to keep your feet warm and ready, and you’re good to go.
Take note that the above activities should remain low-risk if, and only if, you practice minimal public health standards like keeping your mask on, keeping a physical distance of at least six feet from people you don’t live with, and sanitize your hands at all times, especially after having contact with high-touch surfaces, or with others.
Playing video games
You might be surprised to see this activity on this list. After all, we have been made to believe that this is a hobby that wastes our time or an activity that we gain nothing from. But while it’s true that all kinds of addiction or overconsumption are bad for us, playing video games has a lot of surprising benefits, especially when done in moderation.
Studies show that playing video games can improve our focus, decision-making, problem-solving skills, strategy, and ability to think on our feet. It can also enhance our hand-eye coordination and teamwork if we play it with others.
Another activity that can help ease tension and overthinking is gardening. But aside from the obvious physical and mental benefits of planting your own garden, taking care of your plants, and growing your own produce, it also has another benefit that not many people talk about: It raises your home’s resale value. Depending on how it’s grown, a garden has the potential to increase your residential property’s value anywhere from 5 to 11 percent.
A healthy and productive hobby that won’t require a lot of financial investment is knitting. Multiple studies have found that the rhythm of knitting can help your system release serotonin, the chemical transmitter that regulates anxiety levels. This is why there is a strong relationship between the practice of knitting and feelings of happiness and calm in the brain.
The benefit doubles when you do it with others struggling with their mental health because it creates a sense of community and support system. Consider knitting for a cause, like creating knitwear and selling them so that the proceeds can go to those in need during the pandemic and the recession.
The Bottom Line
Let 2021 be the year when you take care of your body, mind, soul, and spirit, and doing it through productive, healthy, and pandemic-safe hobbies and activities. All this will be over soon, and your future self will thank you for doing something to give yourself some love through fun and productive activities.