by Joshua M. Neuman

When the year 2020 began, there was a new sense of hope—a new decade, and a fresh start for many folks that had previously been through some negative experiences. However, the feeling of positivity that came with a new year and a new decade quickly evaporated. As the year began, Australia experienced unprecedented bushfires, rampaging and destroying millions of acres of land, killing people, wildlife and other necessary resources. Kobe Bryant, one of the greatest athletes in the history of sports, tragically passed away in a helicopter accident on January 26th. Locusts swarmed East Africa in one of the worst infestations this century, threatening wildlife and food supply for millions of people. Then, devastation of an unparalleled magnitude, as the world was thrown into a health and economic crisis with the COVID-19 global pandemic. Now, as the global pandemic continues, the world has to endure the spread of a new threat to people, animals and the wildlife ecosystem… murder hornets. 2020, by all accounts and purposes, has been an epic disaster.

You might be reading this article, and the tragic recounting of our only months-old decade, and asking yourself, why bring this up? Well, the truth is, we live in a dangerous, unstable and strange new world. A stressful and unnerving place very unlike the world we lived in one year ago today. This stress is promulgated by copious news reports all over the world highlighting the death and destruction surrounding everyone. In fact, according to the American Psychological Association (APA), Americans reported the news as a significant source of stress. As reported by the CDC, along with the news, other stress-related triggers include changes in sleep or eating patterns, worsening of mental health conditions, and fear or worry about your health and the health of loved ones. All of these stress-related triggers are undeniably surging in the year 2020.

In order to navigate this new world, and this new quarantine based lifestyle, it is incredibly important—and some would argue necessary—to have an escape to avoid the stress and anxiety. One escape, a “distraction” if you will, is having a hobby. Many people enjoy hobbies that include exercise and sports. Running, cycling, golfing, basketball… you name it, and if it is a sports or exercise activity, people have taken it on as a hobby. These exercise and activity hobbies are incredibly important. Not only do they take your mind off the stresses of everyday life and our current situation, but exercise helps to release endorphins, which boosts energy levels and causes an analgesic effect. Although exercise and sports are somewhat limited at the moment, there are still plenty of ways to continue these hobbies and obtain the “escape” from the stress that all humans share.

Your hobby, whether it involves an activity outside, such as gardening or hiking, or an activity inside, such as painting or woodworking, is important, because it gives you the “escape” that you need from work, personal and corona-related stress. No matter what that hobby is—collecting sports paraphernalia, video games or underwater basket weaving—if it is an activity that you enjoy, then you should continue to pursue it. With your hobby, you will be empowered to overcome those common stress-related triggers.