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JOHNSTON: Rediscovering hobbies during COVID-19

We’ve all probably discovered some extra time, with extra-curricular activities being halted and other events being canceled as a result of the COVID-19 situation.

If your house is like mine, we are still busy, but there is definitely more down time than before.

In pre-COVID-19 times, there would be many hobbies and activities I would put on the back burner because of the hectic schedule we lived.

I told my husband a few weeks ago I was going to make sure to take this blessing in disguise to pick up some of those things.

Hobbies can help you relax, take your mind off worries, offer opportunities to connect and fill extra time.

There is often an added benefit of saving money by rediscovering old hobbies and using what you already have at home.

Scrapbooking or putting together photo books can be a way to both pass the time and enjoy your favorite memories. Use printed photos and paper craft supplies to make a traditional scrapbook if you have those on hand or create digital photo albums using online services.

There are often discount coupon codes for online photo sites that make some of these projects more affordable.

If nothing else, take this time to organize photos in those sites or on your computer so you have them ready to go when you get a code or need a gift. There have been many a “free calendar” or “free photo book” code I have let expire because I didn’t have the time to organize the project.

If organizing your thoughts makes you feel more in control of life, try making a bullet journal.

Like a cross between a scrapbook and a day planner, bullet journals have risen in popularity in recent years. Journaling and creative writing can be a helpful way to process your thoughts during times of limited communication or contact with others.

Supplies can be as simple as a blank notepad, pen and your imagination.

If you love to sew or quilt, you probably already have some supplies on hand. I have heard so many sewers talk about their unfinished projects lying around the house.

I remember getting a baby quilt from a family member for my son when he turned 5, an example of one of those unfinished projects that took a few years to get back to.

Take this time to work on those projects, but make sure to work on a project that is at the right skill level to keep you engaged without being frustrating. No one needs a hobby to become stressful.

Self-expression through art can also be relaxing. Painting, drawing, sculpting and other forms of art use supplies many of us already have at home.

Many people who have a smartphone have a camera, and photography can be a satisfying hobby or artform.

Resources to learn new skills — whether it’s photography or any other — abound online, or you can use digital library accounts.

If you need supplies, many hobby supply stores offer coupons or discounts and occasionally run promotions for free shipping on online orders.

Hobbies can be great for keeping children engaged at home as well.

Many crafts and activities can be completed using objects around the house.

Find ideas online with sites like Pinterest.

I’ve also seen a few local people offering up craft kits and activities for purchase that include everything you need to do the activity. We’ve done a few crafts and activities at home, and it has helped me connect with my kiddos, mostly through epic Pinterest fails. Making memories, I always say.

Hobbies can be more fun with friends. Use technology to “visit” remotely with your friends while working on hobbies. Share photos by text or email, or video chat to mark your progress and get feedback.

This also can be a great way to socialize while keeping your distance from others. Whatever your hobby or free time activity, look at these next few weeks/months as a way to take time to get back into it.

You may be pleasantly surprised with how it makes you feel.

Shonda Johnston is the Clark County Extension agent for family and consumer sciences. She can be reached at 859-744-4682 or by email at shonda.johnston@uky.edu.