Lockdown is boring. There seems to be nothing much to do save the daily routine of food, Zoom, emails, work, and maybe a walk if we’re lucky. Bound to our homes every day, we lack the excitement, fun, and socialising that we used to take for granted. And, with Christmas coming up, we all need to find fun ways to survive those long, winter holiday days, whether we’re with family or not – As we all know, keeping busy is deeply important for our mental health. Luckily, in the age of the internet, we no longer need the expensive tuition of specialist instructors and group classes, only a screen and some free time. So, here are five great brain-engaging, productivity-promoting, and mindfulness-inducing hobbies that you can easily teach yourself before the year is up.
We all love to eat, especially during the holidays. Food plays a major role in all celebrations, and it never tastes better than when you’ve made it yourself. So why not teach yourself to up your gastronomic game? Whether you’re a beginner or a head chef in the making, there are countless online courses, books, and YouTube videos out there that can help you master whatever it is you most love eating. Cooking can also be incredibly therapeutic, and a great opportunity to let your mind run free, which is very helpful for mental wellbeing during lockdown. You could even challenge yourself to make the whole Christmas Dinner for all your family and friends – After all, the way to anyone’s heart is through their stomach…
Chess and games of strategy
Chess, checkers, and backgammon are some of the oldest and best ways to pass the time. They are not only fun games, but also intellectually stimulating and brain-training, meaning they’re the perfect skill to read about, study, and practice; if you started now, you could be a pro by New Years! Whilst not particularly social-distancing-friendly for right now, there are countless apps and websites you can play by yourself, and they’re great Christmas Day games to play with the family, online or in person. Alternatively, you can just watch Netflix’s The Queens Gambit, which will provide all the excitement without you having to actually do anything.
Knitting and sewing
Often disregarded as boring and granny-esque, do not overlook the great art of needlework. A relatively easy skill to pick up, sewing is not only a brilliant way to make time fly, but this kind of handwork is also incredibly meditative and can be a great time to reflect on your day. It’s also one of the best skills to have up your sleeve when those new trousers don’t fit quite right, or when a button’s come off your favourite shirt. There’s frankly no better time to start – whether it’s making your own Christmas jumper, or knitting homemade presents for your friends and family, everyone will appreciate the work you’ve put in. Between embroidery, knitting, macrame, machine-sewing, and crocheting, there is no shortage of choices – just put on some music and get to work!
Writing can not only alleviate boredom but also give you a well-deserved feeling of achievement and productivity. You can write diary entries about your day, letters to friends and family you haven’t seen in a while (I assure you, in the days of socially-distanced Zoom calls, this is always appreciated), experimental poetry and prose, or just let your thoughts run free, however, they chose to, as you exorcise your worries and cares. You also don’t have to teach yourself anything or spend hours learning a skill – you don’t need to be Dickens to write. It is often the best way to gather your thoughts, process your day, and get it all off your chest, all whilst creating something of real value you can look back on later. All you need is paper and a pen.
Teach yourself a musical instrument
A great skill to have to show off to your family and friends come Christmas time, it is never too late in life to learn a musical instrument. Whilst the ukulele seems to be the classic choice, being quite cheap and relatively easy to learn, there are many more instruments that you can teach yourself, with the help of a few books and a YouTube tutorial, that won’t break the bank; keyboard, harmonica, guitar, and of course, the noble triangle, to name but a few. There’s no better feeling than finally figuring out how to play along to your favourite song, or even, if you wanted to be ambitious and incorporate tip 4, a song of your own creation? It’s amazing how just a few strings or keys can provide hours and hours of entertainment.