Hands up who didn’t use lockdown as an opportunity to become a master sourdough baker, write a novel, start a lucrative side hustle or finally put those oil paints to canvas? It’s been a stressful time and you know what? It’s perfectly fine if you just kicked back and tried to make sense of things.

That said, just because lockdown is lifting doesn’t mean you should put those curious, inquisitive ambitions on hold. Quite the opposite. Free from the pressure of self-isolation sanctimony, now is the time to truly embrace a new pastime which satisfies your hunger for learning, inquiry and self-improvement. With that in mind, here are 5 hobbies IDEAL for challenging your curiosity.

LEARN TO PLAY A MUSICAL INSTRUMENT

Learning to play a musical instrument has proven to have significant effects on intelligence and creativity in individuals. 

In fact, studies show that playing the piano can aid a person’s cognitive development, along with helping to develop better eye-hand coordination and encouraging fine-motor skills improvement. On top of that (and acknowledging the crooked nature of IQ tests, in general) playing a musical instrument increases IQ by seven points or more, whether you are a kid or an adult. 

Wait, there’s more; playing an instrument can contribute to stress relief, better breathing control, improved listening abilities and it can even be considered as exercise. So, what are you waiting for?

MASTER A FOREIGN LANGUAGE

Put paid to that well deserved stereotype that Brits are useless foreign language learners by putting in the effort to learn one. Second (or third, or fourth…) language proficiency is not only an excellent way to satisfy your curiosity, but it’s also an incredibly useful skill to have both on your CV and in life. Though mastering a foreign tongue may be challenging, it’s an incredibly worthwhile pursuit. 

Why not go think globally here and beyond the ol’ ‘dos cerveza por favor’ bit? You can try picking up the intricate, beautiful, but actually the ‘world’s easiest writing system’, the Hangul (Korean alphabet), and gain a better understanding of the fascinating facets of Korean culture. Or, you could try your hand at the world’s most spoken language, Mandarin Chinese, in doing so improving your job prospects immeasurably. 

Though traditional face-to-face tutoring with a native speaker is still the most effective way to learn a new language, there are also plenty of free apps out there which can assist in the early stages of language acquisition. Duolingo and Rosetta Stone, in particular, have revolutionised, the way we learn languages and both offer free versions, which although limited in scope and reach, provide an opportunity to get some beginner words under your belt. Unfortunately, they don’t offer much in the way of more advanced learning, like grammar and conversational skills, but if you’re looking for a simple and cost-effective way to start learning a new language, then download away.

ABSORB INFOTAINMENT 

A passive activity which can teach us something? Sign us up! 

Indeed, there are plenty of ways to satisfy your curiosity and pep up your general knowledge without you having to do very much at all. You will actually have to sign up, to Netflix, Amazon Prime or Sky, but in doing you’ll open up a treasure trove of documentaries on a vast range of topics. 

Better still are informative, entertaining podcasts which you can listen to while falling asleep, during exercise, or even when you’re in the bath, and absorb tonnes of fascinating insights in the process. We absolutely love the US podcast ‘Stuff To Blow Your Mind’ which takes deep dives into all manner of topics with precision and depth, both supported by historical, literary and cultural references, and scientific research, too.

We’re also currently enjoying Dissect Podcast, which analyses contemporary albums, such as Frank Ocean’s Blonde and Lemonade by Beyonce, in serialised, song-by-song episodes with forensic precision. Superb! 

THE ART OF WATCHMAKING

To some, the lockdown days seem to be passing incredibly slowly. For others, time is just flying by. According to experts, this is because we create our own subjective experience of time in our mind, and unsurprisingly, this doesn’t always match up with what the hands on the clock say.

Perhaps now is the perfect time to get to better grips with the passing of it? Right now we’re fixated on the art of watchmaking, with online tutorials and horology books shedding light on this hugely valuable skill. If you’d like to take this curiosity to the next level, you can even take classes and enroll in watchmaking institutes. If you’re planning on taking things up a notch and go from hands off to horologist, then find a local watchmaker supply to get your hands on some high-quality mechanical parts and apply what you learn. Who knows, watchmaking might even be your calling?

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VOLUNTEERING FOR SOCIAL WORK

Sure, you can foster a sense of inquisitiveness at home and satisfy purely selfish desires. No one is judging you for that. But if you’re looking to nurture your soul, the best way to do so is by giving back. 

Consider volunteering in your community to lend a hand during this particularly difficult of times. Across the UK, the Trussell Trust charity supports 1’200 food banks, and are always in need of volunteers and donations. Another group who do ceaseless, sterling work in the community are leading UK homelessness charity Shelter, who have volunteering roles in shops, at events, and in the local community helping those of no fixed abode first hand. During the coronavirus crisis, most volunteering opportunities are on hold, but keep an eye on the Volunteer for Shelter website for updates on when this will be resumed.

THE BOTTOM LINE

We devote so much of our time to screen, devices, gizmos and gadgets. But there’s so much to be said to putting down our phones and instead picking up a new hobby. Perhaps we’ll bump into each other at the Tarot Card Collecting Convention next year? We can’t wait!