When Covid-19 forced me to spend my days indoors, I quickly learned that I didn’t have any hobbies. With all of New York City usually at my disposal, I found my mental health struggling without anything to occupy my mind. I desperately needed something to keep my mind distracted from the news. Before quarantine, I couldn’t fathom how others had time for hobbies. But with so much time on my hands, what did I have to lose?

My need to find a hobby led me to order a kit with all the things necessary to knit myself a shirt. The only thing I had ever knitted before was an ugly scarf, one with uneven stitches and loose ends, that I had shoved in the back of my closet. But this time, I was determined to figure it out – follow the directions, google the things I didn’t understand, and make myself something I could wear!

Three years later, knitting has become one of the best parts of my life. I have made countless items; socks, hats, sweaters, and baby blankets. I’ve impressed myself with my ability to pick up new techniques, to take on new challenges with courage and excitement. Knitting has helped my mental health drastically, when I feel unable to sleep I think about patterns I want to knit, or meditate on the hand movements of each stitch. I have found a community of other makers, and I feel part of a hidden world I didn’t know existed!

Here are a few things I’ve learned from finding a new hobby.

Hobbies can build your self-esteem!

Being diagnosed with ADHD as an adult, I have quite a few experiences with trying something new and stopping before getting the hang of it. Sometimes the cost of learning something new feels insurmountable and generally not worth the trouble. But, the result of putting those self-doubting thoughts to the side and learning a new craft in spite of them, builds your confidence massively! Even if you try something new, and fail, I hope you’re still proud of yourself for trying.

Hobbies can help you make new friends!

Before learning how to knit, I had no idea there was a whole community of fiber artists out there! Folks of all ages, all across the world find belonging in a shared interest in making. Every time I travel to a new place, I stop by a local yarn shop. I meet new people each time, we connect over what projects we’re working on, and I leave the area feeling a little more connected to the world around me. Hobbies allow us to connect with like-minded individuals who are willing to talk about our shared interests. And what feels better than connecting with someone who will allow you to talk endlessly about your favorite niche pastime?

Hobbies can offer an escape!

My mind runs a mile a minute, I often struggle to sit down and focus on one thing at a time, and I am the queen of multitasking. When I began knitting, I realized that my craft served me as a method of mindfulness exercise, as well as a hobby. Knitting allows me to stay grounded, and like meditation, focuses my mind to all of my senses. I focus on the sensation of the yarn in my hands, the sound the needles make as I work, and the smell of the wooly fibers.

Maybe knitting isn’t your hobby of choice, but regardless of what works for you, I encourage you to find a pastime that brings you joy. Hobbies are not only fun, but they can help you build your self-esteem, your sense of community, and offer an alternative method for mindfulness exercise.

If you’d like support to develop some new hobbies and other mindfulness practices,  schedule a consultation

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About the author
Carlyn Traina-Kane