School Closure Amplifies Importance of Hobbies

Nicole Kennedy, Opinion Editor

I thought that Moraga couldn’t get more boring. I was wrong.

It’s only been 6 days since the Governing Board voted to close the schools of the Acalanes Union High School District, and I’ve already exhausted every app on my phone trying to distract myself from the painful boredom that comes with being trapped at home.

In spite of the grim circumstances COVID-19 has created for communities around the world, practicing social distancing has shown me the importance of having a creative outlet beyond the realm of cyberspace.

According to Psychology Today, hobbies not only permit self-exploration but are excellent ways to healthily cope during stressful times. Thus, today is an excellent time to begin channeling our energies and brains in new ways.

However, activities such as watching T.V. or scrolling through social media do not provide the same relief that active leisures (i.e. painting, playing an instrument) do for the human brain. My generation is infamous for wasting free moments after school and on the weekends in front of a screen.

With the long weeks of nothing ahead of us, it’s important, now more than ever, to find new ways to fill our time.

Whether it’s writing articles or baking or reading a book, I’ve been able to rekindle my interests in old hobbies I had abandoned after the school year began. Not only have I felt vaguely productive during time dedicated to my own hobbies, but I no longer have a dread of being at home for an extended period.

I have a hard time imagining most of my classmates writing poetry or building a birdhouse in their spare time at home; But by bringing creativity and critical thinking skills that come with having hobbies, our community can only benefit.

Searching for a hobby can also be a form of healthy exploration. I know far too many juniors and seniors who have no clue about what they want to do with their lives after high school, and it doesn’t have to remain that way. Discovering a new recreational interest may foster a better sense of self and even open up new college or career pathways previously unrealized.

While exercise and club sports are hobbies of sorts, it is also important that people pursue creativity in their own way, on their own time.

A Healthier Michigan, a website that promotes findings in the health field, cited scientific research that shows hobbies not only leave people happier but also result in lowered blood pressure and a balanced Body Mass Index.

According to The New York Times, dedicating time to creating art via drawing, painting, or sculpting is known to improve test scores and develop responsible behavior.

Perhaps most important, learning a language or doing a puzzle is a way to slow down and refocus. TV screens and iPhones do not leave us any more satisfied or energized as when we started using them. Non-screen hobbies, on the other hand, offer a sense of fulfillment.

While we may not be able to dedicate as much time to creative outlets once we return to the classroom, as hobbies become habits, we will reduce our levels of stress and feel more in control of our lives.