If you’ve been thinking about taking up a new hobby or interest – which could include trying new things, challenging yourself, or discovering a fun new activity – then it’s probably worthwhile looking back at the vast list of activities that trended during 2020.
With a great portion of the year spent at home due to the COVID-19 lockdowns, people discovered and reconnected with a whole new world of hobbies that they can do within the confines of their home.
For some people, the stay-at-home orders meant reacquainting themselves with old hobbies while others were getting a taste of slow living for the first time.
So, while many searched for creative escape and a cure for boredom, it only took a few TikTok videos or Instagram posts for a fun, COVID-compatible hobby to really go viral.
Whether it was making pasta from scratch or painting a Picasso-style masterpiece, doing these hobbies ‘together’ made us feel more connected at a time when our social lives were essentially cut off.
There’s no doubt we all want to leave 2020 in the past, but it turns out some of the popular at-home hobbies that boomed last year offer an array of benefits like stress relief, lowering blood pressure and improved hand-eye coordination – things everyone could use no matter what state the world is in.
So, here are eight hobbies that were trending last year and why you should give them a crack in 2021.
1. Baking bread
If 2020 was a scent, it would be the smell of freshly baked bread.
Staying home was the perfect time to dust off the kitchen apron and become a culinary master. Whether you were treating your sourdough starter like it was your own child or buying a bread maker machine to make things a little easier, immersing yourself in this meditative process was one way to de-stress from life’s anxieties.
This cosy, repetitive activity can serve as a practical form of relaxation therapy as you plunge into every part of the sensuous process.
Baking bread has also been proven to boost your mood and relax the mind, as it gives you a sense of purpose and achievement. Plus, the obvious benefit: a delicious loaf of homemade bread at the end. What’s not to love!
2. Painting watercolour masterpieces
For those who wanted to get in touch with their artistic side last year, a hobby in watercolour painting was the perfect way to channel their creativity.
This relaxing escape not only produces stunning artworks, no matter if you’re a beginner or more advanced painter, but it also is a creative way to ease the tensions of daily life.
Working with watercolours teaches you to slow down, nurture your emotional growth and it also promotes an optimistic outlook on life. Plus, it’s almost impossible not to see an instant lift in your mood when working with a rainbow assortment of colours!
With just a few materials (paints, brushes and a watercolour paper pad), you’ve got hours of relaxing entertainment on your hands.
3. The garden glow-up
Since last year saw a lot of people stuck inside for most of it, our plants and gardens were one way to get that daily dose of nature in.
Whether it was windowsill herbs, propagating indoor plants, or rebuilding an entire veggie patch, our gardens really got a much-needed glow-up.
As we adjust to a new normal and get some elements of our old lives back, our gardens and plants might see some neglect, so this is truly the year to nurture those green friends!
If you need some motivation to get back into the garden, remember that gardening is a healing and empowering activity, provides a nice boost of your daily vitamin D and can help put some deliciously organic (and let’s not forget, cheap) produce on the table.
4. Hand-building ceramics
Pottery has grown in popularity in the past few years, particularly in the mental health community, and for great reasons too.
Working with clay breaks you out of your day-to-day routine and gives you something to master and contemplate. In turn, your mind is no longer focusing on negative thoughts that may be contributing to depression or anxiety.
On a more scientific level, a great portion of the brain area is devoted to the sensitivity and movement of the hands, making hobbies that maximise the use of our hands highly engaging.
So, with just a slab of clay and your trusty hands, you can see a major decrease in your cortisol levels when hand-building ceramics. The best part? Cute, functional ceramic wares to drink out of or decorate your place with for years to come!
5. Walking in nature
The first thing I do when I’m walking in nature is take one big, deep breath in. I feel instantly calm and at peace, and for that reason, immersing myself in the outdoors has become a significant part of my downtime.
It gives me much-needed space to reflect on life and what lies ahead. And more than that, it also gives me the opportunity to soak up the silence (physically and mentally).
Just 30 minutes a day in nature, walking or not, has incredible healing powers. In fact, studies have shown that walking in nature has more restorative effects than physical exercise (in a gym or on a treadmill), helping to reduce stress and boost your mood.
And really, who needs scientific proof to get them excited about spending a little time in nature? Whether it’s the beach, bush, forest, or park, a little slice of beautiful scenery immediately soothes the soul.
6. Textile crafts
Less than a century ago, textile crafts weren’t just hobbies for the everyday person, but a necessary life skill.
In today’s society, the need for these skills is becoming less and less, thanks to cheap mass production, and access to professionals who will do the job for you.
However, with everyone scrambling for some DIY projects at home in 2020, plenty of people reconnected with a needle and thread. Whether it be sewing, embroidery or punch needling, textile-focused hobbies are an awesome life skill to have under your belt. Plus, there are some health benefits too, from improved hand-eye coordination to increased happiness.
Along with being good for you and your health, the ability to sew or embroider can also offer major benefits for the environment. Being able to tap into these skills on demand means more repairing or up-cycling of clothes and materials over always buying new.
You’re guaranteed to create some ultra-cute customised pieces too, that are completely one-of-a-kind and great for the planet!
7. All things music
Music is one thing that most people can agree brings happiness and boosts overall wellbeing. Beyond just listening to music, the COVID-19 pandemic saw plenty of hobby-searchers dabbling with new instruments, singing and music production.
And you don’t even need to be a pro. Some of the most memorable videos from the height of the pandemic and lockdowns in 2020 were those showing musical connection like Italians singing together from their balcony, policemen in Spain playing guitar on patrol, and apartment dwellers in New York singing along together to The Beatles.
Making music enriches your brain, improves emotional stability and boosts self-esteem.
The active work of bringing sounds to life has big benefits, so if you didn’t give it a go last year, this year may be the perfect time to dust off the old guitar, gather your friends around for a sing-along or create your own at-home music studio.
8. Lettering everything and anything
Brush lettering is the sort of hobby that’s not only soul-soothing but also highly useful.
Whether you’re writing cards, letters, or designing some personalised decorations for an event, brush lettering and calligraphy skills prove to be super handy (potential hobby turned side hustle idea, anyone?)
Besides being a beautiful art form, brush and hand lettering is a creative outlet that is therapeutic and meditative, allowing your mind to slip into a state of flow. And within this flow is where all the best benefits happen. It allows your mind to settle down and really sink into what you’re doing, while still being vibrantly engaged, which reduces stress and lowers blood pressure.
This slow and calming process only requires some brush pens and paper, so it’s the perfect at-home hobby!
This article was originally published on A Girl in Progress.