How many times did you want to follow a whim or pursue a desire to try something new in life but found yourself saying “I have no time”.

How many times did you find yourself doing what hamsters do, running on a wheel which kept on turning, no matter how much you wished it to stop or dreamed about what you would do if it did.

This was so often the reason you probably gave yourself and others for not exploring or experimenting with something new. And, spare yourself from any guilt feeling about it: you were not to blame for this. Before this pandemic, our fast-paced western culture sadly did not allow it.

Now, with the world dealing with this global pandemic, and for many who have to stay at home, time is not an issue anymore: gone are our social commitments or usual outdoor commercial quick-fix entertainment our culture has taught us to resort to.

Perhaps now, more than ever, is the time to decide for a change and seize the opportunity to turn things around, and here is another reason why: because, for one thing, following these whims and pursuing these desires can save us from the flooding of anxious and fearful thoughts about COVID-19 which can paralyse our lives and our psyches.

Fear is adaptive: it helps us to prepare ourselves for fight or flight from a threatening situation. We need to listen to it in reasonable measure to take the necessary precautions to take care of ourselves, for example by not exposing ourselves and each other to danger, by respecting rules of social distancing and personal hygiene. But if these fearful thoughts constantly flood our psyches, they will paralyse us, create unbearable and uncontrollable psychological pain which in turn will ironically sabotage our lives and affect our immune system. It is thus imperative to keep strong.

There hasn’t been a more opportune moment to take care of ourselves psychologically. Now is the time to follow those whims, pursue those desires, practise your hobbies, experiment with new ones and find new passions.

Now is the time to follow those whims, pursue those desires, practise your hobbies, experiment with new ones and find new passions

Why? Because hobbies and new passions have the most important purpose: they can occupy our mind with positive and healthy thoughts and feelings during these challenging times.

When we follow a passion, we are completely in the present, in the now; we are fully engaged in what we are doing and most importantly, our mind is still. Although we might be flooded with anxious and fear-provoking thoughts, if we practise a hobby we are passionate about, we will manage to quieten our mind, thoughts will fade away, our mind will fall still and we will feel at peace for a while.

We might perhaps even experience excitement and exhilaration, because we are doing what we love. This is how our mind works.

True, probably we haven’t been prepared by our culture to do this. For example, we were probably more trained to value our activity if we are being paid for it or if it is going to lead us somewhere such as a career move. However, work can be in itself a source of stress since our sense of worth is so closely attached to it.

Hobbies are different: we decide to pursue them freely, because we choose to do so, and that is what makes all this difference in terms of how we will probably feel while we practise them. We are not being tested and we  do not need to prove ourselves to anyone (as we might feel it is at work), so we can feel free to play and to be. It is like what playing freely brings to children: a sense of joy from an experience of total freedom, an exhilaration from its creativity and an excitement that comes from new learning.

So start reading that book you always wanted; start taking that art class tutorial you’ve always dreamed to attend; start trying those yoga poses you have always wanted to integrate in your life; start playing around with that new musical instrument you bought and always wanted to learn but never had the time to; research that special recipe you have always wanted to do and try it out.

Do it now because it is something we need  for our emotional and psychological well-being at this particular moment in time.

Let us see what we enjoy; let us learn how to do it. Let this be a time for us to invest in ourselves, to learn about our creative selves. Because if we dare to pursue our dreams and venture out of our psychological comfort zone while we stay in the safety of our homes, this time will most certainly turn from one of crisis to one of real life-changing opportunity. 

Louisa Mifsud Houlton is a psychologist and psychotherapist.

Sign up to our free newsletters

Get the best updates straight to your inbox:
Please select at least one mailing list.

You can unsubscribe at any time by clicking the link in the footer of our emails. We use Mailchimp as our marketing platform. By subscribing, you acknowledge that your information will be transferred to Mailchimp for processing.