COLUMN: Hobbies are essential in the pandemic – The Depaulia

Grandmaster Chess

Before the pandemic, my hobbies included hanging out with my friends, going out to the local Taco Bell and coffee shop, shopping and exploring Chicago. I also kept my schedule booked pre-pandemic with after school activities, work and homework. My life had a steady rhythm that I followed perfectly.

But that all changed with the pandemic and quarantine. I had to adapt to it. My nonstop lifestyle came to halt as I now had to prioritize social distancing and quarantine. All of my work has shifted online including classes, my job and activities. Along with that, I also had much more time on my hands. How was I going to use that extra time?

Throughout these past 10 months, Ive found outlets to be creative, learn or simply relax a little. Its important for everyone to have two to four activities or hobbies to bring positivity and productivity during all the uncertainty. Without them, it could make coping with the pandemic harder. Here are the things that have gotten me through quarantine.

My dog

Pre-pandemic, I had about an hour or two of free time and Im sad to say that I would use it to attempt to relax. However, this was not a lot of time to allocate to my dog. She is a small, fluffy, sweet thing who deserves all the time and attention I have to offer.

I try now to spend time walking with, playing with or simply cuddling with my dog. I never really got a chance to walk her before, but now I do it several times a week. I try to take her once a week now that its winter, but Im glad she encourages me to exercise a bit. Ive also discovered what kind of toys she loves to play with, including a stuffed bear. Weve developed our own communication style where we truly understand each others struggles.

My dog and I have become closer over the past 10 months, and Im glad I can allocate more time to spending time with her. Without her, I cant imagine how I wouldve stayed positive.

Chess

After watching The Queens Gambit on Netflix, I became interested in chess. I had this misconception that the game is too complicated, not interesting enough and that only smart people can play it. Im proof that these are not true. Chess is so much more fun than you may think.

I got into chess in about October, and I play games almost every day on chess.com, sometimes against a computer bot or someone online. Not only does it allow me to think about what Im doing, I also get a chance to analyze afterwards about what I could have done better. All the pieces have unique moves and powers which Im learning to master.

Will I ever become a grandmaster? Probably not. But chess is a great game to play when Im tired of videogames and mindless social media scrolling.

Yoga

I needed an activity that I could do inside and could relax with. Yoga was the perfect answer. Yoga is a group of spiritual, physical and mental practices. I know that it sounds too zen for someone like me, but its made quite an impact on my life and how I think.

I developed a classic yoga routine in early April, and over time Ive adapted it to whatever I needed to do that day. If I was overworked, I slowed it down to allow for more relaxation; if I was sluggish and needed a boost, I challenged myself with new poses.

Yoga is a great activity to move your body, but to also think and reflect. I try to get in tune with my body and think, What do I need? Now, I practice yoga three to five times a week. It gives me time to move and relax when life gets too overwhelming and I need a break. Especially during a time of uncertainty, its been crucial to have an activity that encourages mindfulness.

Reading

I always enjoyed reading, but since school required me to read books, I never had time to leisurely read a book of my choice. However, that changed after remote learning gave me more time to build my own schedule. Ive also tried to read books that I could learn from. After summer 2020, I wanted to learn more about systemic racism.

So far, Ive read about 10 books in the past 10 months. Ive gotten into nonfiction, poetry and historical fiction. There are genres and books out there for everyone. I know that it seems reading is way too time-consuming, but we can all use some time to develop our understanding of the world.

Without reading, I would not have developed a better sense of the world around me.

These things have helped me shape a better quarantine experience. Through all the stress and uncertainty, I believe it is important to find what makes you happy and feel productive. As I struggle with navigating remote college, I rely on these things more to make me feel grounded. Im anxious to return to a life without social distancing, but I hope I keep these in my life to remind me to slow down and relax.

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COLUMN: Hobbies are essential in the pandemic - The Depaulia

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