Arts & Life, Features

Students learn new hobbies to deal with stress, uncertainty of pandemic

During the COVID-19 quarantine period, students were unable to return to campus, spend time with their loved ones, visit amusement parks, go to the gym, attend parties and more.

These regulations provided students all over the world to be flooded with an abundance of free time.

Some students attending CSULB utilized this newfound free time to learn new hobbies, including sports, languages and essential life skills.

For sophomore Onora Noelle, COVID-19 caused her to feel lost and trapped in the negativity. But learning something new allowed her to escape these feelings and brought her comfort.

“Participating in sewing distracted me from my surroundings,” Noelle said. “Making a craft or continuing a project was something I always looked forward to.”

In June 2020, Noelle began learning how to sew and crochet so she would be able to repair and make her own clothing. But as she continued learning and practicing, she discovered sewing was helping her get through a rather difficult time.

Just as Noelle did, Charlotte Austria committed to improving and learning new hobbies through the duration of the pandemic.

At first, Austria committed to improving her baking skills a couple of months into the pandemic.

She said she was able to make multiple desserts from scratch, which helped bring her comfort. Then, Austria began learning how to crochet and knit to make her own clothes.

“The pandemic was detrimental to my mental health,” Austria said. “I was just really sad, but learning new hobbies allowed me to create things when I was in a rut with my art.”

Austria added that she also enjoyed having the time to escape into a book; reading more often during quarantine as well as focusing more on herself and improving her mental health.

According to the National Alliance On Mental Illness (NAMI) the pandemic was an especially difficult time for students, educators and workers who struggled with the unprecedented changes brought on over the last year and a half.

In a nationwide survey of about 33,000 students, 83% of students said their academic performance suffered as a result of deteriorating mental health throughout the pandemic, according to Boston University.

In addition, 66% percent of those surveyed said they struggled with feelings of loneliness and isolation, according to the survey.

Even during a time of constant stress and fear, many students at CSULB were able to overcome negative feelings through improving themselves, mentally and physically by learning new hobbies.

Junior Laila Freeman said she spent her free time during the quarantine period learning a new sport—tennis.

Before the pandemic, Freeman had taken a nutrition class that had inspired her to take her physical health more seriously by participating in a sport.

“Quarantine helped me take a step back from my hectic life and commitments,” Freeman said. “I was able to acknowledge my mental ailments and truly work on them in a more mellow environment.”

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