Why have our favourite old hobbies provided so much comfort to us during a year filled with so much isolation, and uncertainty?
Let’s face it. We’ve all had more free time since mid-March. Even after working your regular 9 to 5 from home you’re left with empty space to fill, and none of the usual stuff to fill it with thanks to the pandemic closing bars, restaurants, and movie theaters among many other entertainment spots. This has been a scary time, and even people who thrive at home have felt the weight of the unknown for the past nine months. When we were told that it would be safest if we all stayed home, and away from our friends and family, something kind of magical happened. A lot of us picked up our long lost and forgotten favourite hobbies.
The first week of quarantine was kind of fun despite the feeling of impending doom that we would meet with every news report throughout the day. We were all in our comfiest clothes, drinking wine whenever we wanted, and watching movies we hadn’t thought about in years. Time was obsolete in the way it is when you’re in an airport, waiting to board your flight. It’s society’s wild west, there are no rules. For us in our first phase in lockdown there were no rules either, except for not leaving the house unless necessary. With all of our usual means of entertainment taken away, we had to get creative with how we would spend our time after the lack of structure of week one started getting old. As it turns out, our old hobbies never really left our hearts, and a lot of us started picking them back up again.
If the beginning of the pandemic had taught us anything, it’s that a lot of people bake for comfort. During the month of April, it seemed like everybody was making banana bread. There were recipes for every kind of variation all over social media, and banana’s that would normally become overripe, and eventually thrown away were being upcycled into a delicious loaf. As people waited for a bread shortage that never happened, they were also making their own artisan sourdough breads. We suddenly had more time to try more complex recipes for Wednesday night dinners and fell back in love with exploring different foods. Some revisited dishes they haven’t cooked in a few years, while others learned to cook for the first time.
Teens and young adults a lot of time to pick up “vintage” hobbies through the spring and summer. Through Tik Tok a lot of Gen Z were showing off their DIY skills with videos of their embroidery, knitting, and jewellery making. After Harry Styles wore a knitted patchwork cardigan while rehearsing at the Today Show earlier this year, young girls started dusting off their knitting needles, and crochet hooks to make their own version of the sweater. Many admitted that their grandmothers had taught them to knit when they were younger and hadn’t really considered trying it again until the now iconic JW Anderson cardigan started trending on social media. Now, they’re continuing to create clothes, and accessories, even starting their own online stores to sell their goods.
The creativity didn’t stop with knitting either. Painting, drawing, and even picking up an instrument that hasn’t been played in a while all had people keeping busy over the pandemic. Just go to the art supply section in any store and you can see they’re sold out of most of their basic items. People have been using different forms of art to express themselves for hundreds of years, and some of the art that has come out of the isolation of this pandemic has been incredible. Even Taylor Swift picked up her guitar and went back to her country/folk roots to write, record, and release two albums during the pandemic. People have been re-watching all of their favourite shows and movies from childhood and listening to music they used to love as a teenager. I’ve found myself suddenly wearing clothes I haven’t touched since I was 19 and trying hairstyles I used to love. There’s a certain comfort that comes with all of these things that just feel like a warm blanket in a time when we really don’t know what tomorrow will bring.
People are falling back in love with the things that used to bring them joy. According to an American marketing research company NPD Group, sales of chess sets items have increased by over 80 per cent in 2020. This is thanks to a combination of the popularity of Netflix’s The Queen’s Gambit, and the amount of free time the pandemic has provided for people to pick the game back up. No matter what your hobby is, whether it’s common or obscure, it’s kind of nice to take a break from a screen for a while.I’ll admit that my weekly screen time reports since March have been startling to say the least. But during weeks where I find I’m spending more time being creative in other ways I’ve noticed my brain is a lot happier. Revisiting our old favourite things, whether they’re a hobby, a movie, or music brings us back in time to a moment where we felt safe, secure, and happy. So, while this year has sucked on colossal levels, it gave us back the things we forgot we loved. It brought us a level of comfort we desperately needed, and if anything, gave us something else to do that wasn’t scrolling through Instagram or TikTok for hours to take our mind of the doom and gloom of 2020.