Ahh, the joys of discovering something new you love, going on a trip, taking on a new hobby, tackling a puzzle or going for that long overdue hike that’s been your calendar for ages. Some of these fairly common pre-COVID hobbies may have fallen by the wayside during the last year, and a year later you might be wondering why it feels like you have very few interests of your own these days. The good news is that you are not alone. The even better news is that rediscovering these little “pockets of interest” can be a relatively simple process, especially once we gently pivot again, and self care starts to take center stage in our lives.
Why We Forfeit Our Own Hobbies In The First Place
The pandemic is a big reason for people having to forfeit some of their hobbies, especially if social distancing or lockdown rules have forced them to abandon these altogether for their own safety. There are of course other reasons why we forfeit our own hobbies from time to time, and often these aren’t even related to how much we’re enjoying them in the first place. When we get into a new partnership with someone, for instance, it’s not uncommon to adjust our routines to accommodate the person, and their needs. Often, the infatuation phase (so magical, and a little bizarre) even makes us lose ourselves a little bit. Other big changes in life, like moving to a new city, a new home, or changing careers, all change our routines in a big way, and usually self care is one of the first things to go when this happens.
How Pockets of Interest Can Help Build Confidence
Regardless of why it has happened in your own life, if you’re feeling like you’ve lost touch with your hobbies there’s a good chance that your mood and confidence levels might also be feeling a little bit low. Having our own interests, and doing things for ourselves — in the most unselfish sense of course — is a great way to nurture our skills and to spend some much needed quality time with ourselves. There is a common misconception that by tending to our own needs, we are forfeiting intimacy and connection with others. This simply isn’t true, as the more we look after ourselves, the more we can extend ourselves outwards to the people we love and care about. This helps with boosting overall mood, as well as feelings of contentment, belonging and the aim of my game - joy.
Work Through That Social Anxiety
One of the biggest stumbling blocks you might face before “getting back out there” for a hobby you once loved is that you might be scared to physically get back out there in the world. COVID-19 has heightened social anxiety for everyone in the world, and when you don’t even feel comfortable leaving your own front door, it can feel impossible to go for a tennis lesson. Even just grab a cup of coffee and writing for an hour from your favourite restaurant can feel like a COVID super-spreader event in our own heads. It’s important to consider that depending on the vaccine rollout, the pandemic might still be a part of our lives for anywhere upwards of two to three years. If we don’t start to take some cautious steps to be back out in the world, always keeping in mind protocols of course, we may end up feeling even more disconnected in the long run than we do now.
Get Comfortable By Starting Small
Naturally, I’m not saying that you should get up now and mobilise the entire neighbourhood to do a marathon run together on Saturday (although I like the idea for the future!). Start small, and work your way up as your confidence grows. Considering restrictions where you live, it may not even be possible to physically take part in the hobby you used to do before the pandemic. Pick one activity that you enjoyed, that can either be done remotely, or can be done safely with social distancing. Try to choose something that involves leaving home. Schedule it into your calendar for next week, even if just a 15 or 30 minute block period. Give yourself a few days to get mentally prepared, and excited about it! From there, take the plunge and get back out there. Life is for living, and if you’ve made it through the pandemic for the year, it’s worth doing what you can to make the most of it.