From finding new hobbies to becoming productive, COVID-19 lockdown has been quite fruitful for some

Published On: May 25, 2020 08:00 PM NPT By: Aditi Baral

KATHMANMDU, May 25: Aakriti Khanal remembers how before the COVID-19 lockdown she used to be a different individual as compared to now. “I was a book-worm who was almost a nerd, always reading books,” she recalls. However, the period after the lockdown has been quite eccentric for her. In a bid to cope with the ongoing lockdown, she has now developed a few new hobbies and enjoys having discovered them. Sketching and watching anime are her current major hobbies.

Khanal, 16, is an elementary school student who was preparing for her 10th grade SEE examinations before the lockdown. But the exams were canceled by the government in order to prevent the spread of coronavirus. Khanal has been in her house since then, following her newly-discovered hobbies and doing what she loves to do. “The first few days of the lookdown felt weird, I read books, particularly academic books but that got boring,” she said, “After that, following a friend’s suggestion I started watching animes. With that I started sketching too and by now it has turned into a hobby.”

The government-imposed lockdown has been ongoing for over two months now, forcing people to remain within their houses. And like Khanal many others have taken this as an opportunity to develop new hobbies.

For the past few weeks, Saumya Bhandari has been embracing his new-found love for Mathematics. “These days, I mostly watch videos about mathematics. YouTube channels like 3blue1brown, numberphile and mathsect have helped me a lot,” he said.  

Bhandari credits the lockdown for his sudden interest in mathematics. Before this, he often spent his time traveling back and forth to college, hanging out with his friends and playing football. But now the lockdown has forced him to stay indoors giving him enough time to surf videos of what he wants to study and what will help him in the future. “Along with forming algorithms to create a code for solving certain problems, I have also learned to use programming for solving math questions like Monte Carlo simulations,” he said adding, “Mathematics is useful for Computer Science and it will be helpful for my future studies in the field of Artificial Intelligence.”

Considering the fact that the lockdown has strained most people’s mental health, experts have been suggesting various methods to stay calm. Finding new hobbies and doing what you love are two of the major things one can do to remain mentally intact.

“It is normal to feel low and mentally stressed during the lockdown. However, it isn’t impossible to keep such thoughts away,” said Jagannath Lamichhane, a mental health rights activist.

Lamichhane mentioned that following a few simple steps and finding ways to keep yourself busy can help you tackle such thoughts. “Doing what you love to do is one of the easiest ways to keep yourself mentally strong,” he said.

Along with finding new hobbies, the prolonged lockdown has also given a chance for most people to become productive and complete unfinished tasks.

For 20-year-old Aayush Dhakal, the lockdown has given him a chance to cradle his interest in videography. Dhakal, a highschool graduate loves going on trips and capturing moments in videos. He was always fascinated toward making video montages and trip vlogs. However, due to his busy schedule, he always postponed his plans to edit videos. This lockdown has finally given him a chance to finish his postponed project. “I never got time to edit videos before the lockdown but now I am mostly editing videos,” Dhakal told Republica Online. He is thankful that this lockdown finally gave him a chance to do something that he always wanted to do. “I am still in the learning phase and my work is not perfect but I believe it will improve gradually,” Dhakal said, adding, “Although I started too late, it’s never too late to start, is it?” he said.

Not knowing what the situation will be after the lockdown, all of them however mentioned that these new-found hobbies will remain intact with them for lifetime.

Nevertheless, with discovering new hobbies, and following what we love to do, Lamichhane also suggested a few other ways to keep one’s mental health stable. “Restriction on physical mobility can make a person emotionally vulnerable,” he said, adding, “We must be able to look at our physical and mental health together at a time like this.”

Some simple ways he suggested to keep your mental health strong are:

·         Get enough physical exercise

·         Try to maintain community and social connection

·         Try having a routine

·         Practice meditation or yoga

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