Try Out a Cool New Hobby

As we all deal with the ongoing stress and uncertainty caused by the pandemic, it is essential to find ways to relax and unwind.

Interesting HobbiesAs the pandemic stretches on and we all continue to spend more time at home, you may be starting to get weary of the activities that once kept you busy and entertained. But there are plenty of interesting hobbies out there and maybe now is the time to pursue a new pastime.

It's good to have hobbies, even when we aren’t in a pandemic. Hobbies help our mental health by reducing stress and anxiety, experts say. A 2015 study published in the Annals of Behavioral Medicine found that people with hobbies were significantly happier and healthier than those who didn’t look for interests outside of their career. As we all deal with the ongoing stress and uncertainty caused by the pandemic, it is essential to find ways to relax and unwind.

So, put the sourdough starter aside and try out a something new. We have rounded up a list of seven interesting hobbies to consider, many of which can also be done with kids.

Make Cheese

If you enjoy eating brie or any other kind of cheese, why not learn how to make your own? There are plenty of resources out there to help you get started. Most cheese is made from milk, bacteria, and rennet (a complex set of enzymes), and almost any kind of milk can be used to make it. New England Cheese Making Supply Company, a seller of cheese-making products, is a great place to start learning about making cheese from scratch. Its website, cheesemaking.com, is packed full of how-to guides and resources for cheesemakers at all levels. Another good place to look is the American Cheese Society’s site at cheesesociety.org. This trade organization has a free digital guide on best practices for cheesemakers.

Learn Magic
Creating illusions and learning tricks is fun for people all ages. To get started in magic you really don’t need anything fancy; several easy tricks use everyday household items. There are hundreds of tricks you can do with just a deck of cards. YouTube is full of magic tutorials, which are easily accessible and free. If you are able to access curbside services at your local library, check out some of the magic titles. Books force you to examine every aspect of a magic trick and bring it to life in your own way. Vanishingincmagic.com is an excellent resource for all things magic; the site sells magic products, and features video tutorials and helpful tips for magicians at all levels. If you want to take a course, Udemy, an online learning platform, offers a number of low-cost magic classes.

Take Up Origami
This traditional Japanese paper craft has a lot of benefits. It requires very few materials—only paper—and while it can take some time to master, newbies can pretty easily complete simple projects such as cranes or a paper boat. Origami experts say the best way to learn this craft is to keep practicing; it takes time to understand how much pressure to apply with your fingers while you are making those little folds. There are many sites that have clear visuals and step-by-step directions. Some useful sites are origami.me, origami-fun.com, and origamiway.com.

Try Whittling
The ancient art of shaving wood with a knife has is practiced by millions of people around the world. And it’s relatively easy to start whittling since all you need is a knife and some wood. The most common wood to carve is basswood since it is soft and easy to work with; balsa and butternut are also recommended. The best type of knife to use is one that has a steel blade and a large and comfortable handle, according to experts. Woodworkingtoolkit.com has articles and product reviews for those who want to explore whittling, which, just for the record, is different from the art of carving.

Create Soap
Making soap from scratch is a practical hobby that is ideal for people who like more complex DIY projects. Soap requires two types of ingredients—an acid and a base—and there are a few different ways to make it. The best method for beginners is the melt and pour method. To get started, you can purchase a clear soap base. After it is fully melted, you can customize it by adding color, fragrance, essential oils, and any other additives. The soap is then poured into a silicone mold which provides the shape. Making soap is essentially a chemistry project and it does require a few tools; you will need to have a heat-safe container to melt the base, measuring spoons, a wick, a silicone mold and possibly some other items depending on what you are making. Brambleberry Handcraft Provisions has all sorts of supplies for soap makers. Etsy sells a number of DIY soap-making kits to help you out.

Bond with Birds
You don’t have to go too far to go bird watching. Wherever you live, birds live, also. Any outdoor space will work fine for this hobby, and you can even see plenty of birds from an apartment window. A useful field guide or birding app can help you identify different kinds of birds. Some great apps are the Merlin guide, and eBird, which was created by the Cornell Lab of Ornithology. It helps also to have some binoculars since many birds are small and move fast. There is plenty of information out there to help you get started. The National Wildlife Federation’s has some great birdwatching tips on its site, nwf.org. The Audobon Society has an online pamphlet for beginners that explains exactly how to get started in birding.

Look Up to the Sky
With many of us feeling isolated, this is a good time to look up into the sky and remember that we are part of a much larger universe. Learning astronomy is intellectually interesting and doesn’t require a lot of equipment. The most important step is to find a good place to observe the night sky. While that can be tricky in a city, urban dwellers can head to local park to escape the bright lights. Sky & Telescope, a multimedia platform, has fantastic resources for beginning astronomers, including "Getting Started in Astronomy" a free pamphlet. Khanacademy, the online education platform, offers free online astronomy classes.


Melanie Kletter is an educator and freelance writer and editor.  

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