Start a New Hobby
I think most of us have had to adopt new hobbies this year out of necessity. I wanted to take advantage of more time at home to challenge myself and learn a new skill. That creative outlet for me was making this blog. I had always been interested in blogging and learning more about it. Turns out there is a ton to learn while creating a blog, a website, and content. The unexpected benefit of creating this blog was learning how to setup a website. I’m not writing code or have any ambitions of becoming a web designer, but I’ve learned some very valuable baseline skills of how to create a page, tips for SEO maximization, and marketing. It’s been a great personal challenge and I’ve enjoyed the struggle over the last couple months.
Learn a New Language
There is one thing we all seemingly have more of these days, and that’s time to sit and think. Instead of binge watching Netflix, take some of that time and put it toward learning a new language. I have been attempting to learn Spanish for years. I’ve picked up some key words and phrases from my co-workers over the years, but have no formal education in speaking Spanish. That being said, there are a ton of apps and online resources to help you learn just about any language you choose. I downloaded the DuoLingo app and now spend about ten minutes a day learning the basics of Spanish. Most apps are free and easily accessible. We are scrolling on our phones for hours a day anyway. Might as well put some of that time toward learning a useful language. https://www.duolingo.com/
This one is pretty straightforward and I’m sure you are hearing it everywhere but it’s really important. Being under quarantine for a large part of the last year means it’s easier for us all to create bad habits. Personally, I have certainly enjoyed more sips (or four fingered pours) of bourbon this last year than ever before. Break up the boredom and tendency to be glued to the couch with some exercise. I’m not talking about getting a gym membership and chugging protein shakes. Just get up and move for a little bit every day. I typically take the dog for longer walks these days because we both need the exercise and I enjoy having a task outside the confines of our apartment. You can also YouTube just about any type of exercise routine you want and follow along in your living room. My wife and I have relied on yoga videos over the last year to get some stretching and muscle building sprinkled into our routine.
Plan a Trip
Planning a trip, even months into the future, gives you something to look forward to. Just the idea of going somewhere other than your house can bring hope and excitement. I’ve started planning a backpacking trip with my brother to the Smoky Mountains. We hope to go later this spring for a four day trip. One day to drive down from Chicago, one day to hike in and camp, one day to hike out, and the last day to drive home. We have been texting and emailing back and forth about what trails to hike, what gear we need to include, and who needs to bring what. For me, the planning process for any trip is just as fun as the trip itself. It can be a great distraction and productive activity. Travel during these times is not recommended and certainly more risky than ever before, but a socially distanced activity like hiking and camping can still be done safely.
Even though we may be home more often, we still have the ability to learn a new skill. Photography is a great way to appreciate the things around you and challenge yourself to see things in a new perspective. Everyday objects in your home or around your neighborhood look different through a camera lens. You will notice much more detail, color, and texture than every before if you slow down and really focus on a particular subject. There are tons of resources online to teach you the basics of photography. You also don’t need an expensive camera to get started. Most smart phone cameras have just as much technology and ability to take great photos as your basic DSLR camera. Most smart phones also have editing capabilities built into the photo app, so you can crop, adjust color and contrast, and add filters to improve your photos. There are also simple to use free apps like Snapseed and Lightroom to help you take editing up another level. There are thousands of video tutorials available. Here’s one of my favorites:
Foster a Pet
There has always been a need for foster homes for dogs and cats. Many pet rescue groups rely on volunteers to foster dogs and cats while they are waiting to find their forever home. If you are not currently a pet owner, fostering can be a great way to give yourself a trial run and find out if pet ownership is really for you. I have several friends, who have chosen to become foster families for local dog rescue groups. They have young kids and wanted to use the fostering experience as a teaching tool for the family. If all goes well, the kids could eventually adopt their own dog. A quick Google search will show rescue groups in your area. I’m sure they would be happy to hear from you and appreciate your help.
Goal setting is important during good times and bad. I feel it’s especially important during Covid so you feel as though there is light at the end of the tunnel. None of us know when things will be back to ‘normal’ but it will happen one day. Set short, medium, and long term goals to get you through 2021 and beyond. Mazie and I have taken more time during quarantine to focus on our financial and personal goals. We actually took the time to sit down and create a budget for the year and set goals for savings, retirement, and large purchases over the next couple years. This helps us not only plan for the future but have hope for a return to normalcy.
Appreciate the Little Things
The last and simplest tip is to appreciate the little things in your life. Until we are able to go out to dinner with friends, attend a concert, or drink a beer at baseball game, we will continue to spend most of our time at home. Being able to appreciate a good cup of coffee, a homemade meal, or time spent with your family is really important. Take pleasure in reading a good book or going for a walk with your spouse. When things get back to normal and our hectic lives get back on track, time to appreciate the simple things will be harder to come by.