There’s a running joke on Facebook that when self-isolation is over, there will be a lot of heavier people with a drinking problem. We certainly don’t want that, so to prevent overeating out of boredom and overindulging to reduce stress, maybe we should think of some alternatives. A relaxing hobby may just be the answer to calm the nerves while doing something fun and constructive. Many Atlantans are taking up new hobbies or returning to ones they abandoned years ago as they have the time and the need to relax, destress and enjoy a hobby. Here are a few ideas from The Atlanta Journal-Constitution to help you unwind.
Needlework — quilting, sewing, knitting, crocheting and needlepoint — are often thought of as traditional skills. Mark Young, owner of Labors of Love Needlepoint Shop in Virginia-Highland, has seen a renewed interest in needlepointing, especially in the past couple of weeks. “We had a lot of our regular customers, when everyone started to see this was going to be a while, come into the store and stock up, almost like people did at grocery stores,” he said. “With the pandemic, we’re seeing a lot of people saying that they started doing needlepoint 30 years ago and now want to get back into it. In addition, our online business has really expanded, and it’s beyond Atlanta. We’re getting ready to ship a package to someone in Australia who is feeling isolated.”
The shop, which opened in 2018 (his wholesale business opened in 1999), recently had to cancel a beginner’s workshop as Millennials are picking up the hobby. “They see it on Instagram or on the internet. One of our customers is doing a virtual class for some of her friends in the neighborhood,” he said. Adding, another reason why it’s attracting younger people is because needlepoint is no longer just on a homey pillow or on the wall. “The variety of fibers is tremendous, and people are needlepointing belts, Apple watch bands, eyeglass cases, all sorts of things,” he said.
Jacque Digieso, co-founder of The Cottage School in Roswell and now retired, has returned to crocheting, a hobby she did with her mother and grandmother. “Once I had my boys and started school, every waking moment was planned. At one time I thought I’d pick it up again and started a blanket. but I didn’t have the time. I felted stressed because when I was doing it, I felt I should be doing something else.”
Now, 25 years or so later, Digieso has picked it up again. “I love to sit and not do anything fancy or complicated. I’m doing the same stitches and squares. I’m not even sure what’s it’s going to become, but I love this repetitive movement. I don’t have to think. There’s no beginning or end. All I know is that I’m going to make a bunch of squares. I could do it for 20 minutes or an hour. It’s so relaxing.”
Digieso also believes that maybe subliminally, during this time of stress she harkens back to a simpler time with her grandmother. “It’s calling me back to those times. We’re all so unconnected, especially now. This is an immediate connection to those times when families got together and traditions passed down skills. These are scary times, and crocheting is so calming.”
Maple Street Guitars in Buckhead is usually a “fairly busy store, but we’ve seen some uptick in business. What we have seen is a lot of people bringing us repairs or wanting their guitars restrung, so it’s looking like they’re cleaning and dusting off their old guitars and giving it a whirl again,” says Lindsay Petsch, co-owner and manager, whose parents opened the business in 1980.
He also has seen more people calling the store seeking lessons. Some of his teaching staff are now conducting online lessons, and the store sends those budding guitarists to those teachers. “We give lessons, but a lot of time people cancel. They blame traffic, a meeting, whatever. But they have the time now.”
Art is always a relaxing past-time, whether it’s painting, sculpture, woodworking or other forms. For those who remember paint-by-number kits as a child will be delighted in Pink Picasso, a paint-by-number kit for adults with the subjects being botanicals, scenery and animals. Another painting alternative, Cupixel, uses an app and augmented reality (AR) to help budding artists create works of art. Perfect for beginners or experienced artists, the kit comes with paints, brushes, cleaning cloth, market, outline pencils, sharper and eraser.
The person downloads the Cupixel App, which serves as a personal artist assistant, and then chooses a picture from their own phone or one from Cupixel’s Gallery. The next step is to use the art tools and AR-directed technology that integrates the user’s mobile device to provide a hands-on experience. The painting is divided into mini canvasses so that the artist can paint with incredible accuracy, as well as making it easier to stop and go on a project. When all the squares are filled, the artwork can be assembled within the Cupixel frame. If you make a mistake while painting, just replace the mini canvas with a blank one.
Buckhead mom-of-three Dee Gerressen received a Cupixel kit as a present and finds it is the perfect self-isolation activity. “It’s the combination of the phone project and what you’re doing with the canvas. It’s super convenient, but what I really like is that, now that I have a lot of time on my hands, it’s something to do, and I have something to show for it,” she says. “I’m not creative, but my first try was a painting of our dog, and it was really awesome.” She also likes that, because there are different panels more than one person can work on the same project. “I’ve already told my kids that when the next rainy day comes, we’re all doing a Cupixel painting.”
Loretta Rieman tended to the yard but never tried to seriously garden. Now that she has time, she built a raised garden and is growing vegetables, such as eggplants, tomatoes and cucumbers, as well as flowers and herbs. “Pike’s Nursery has a drive-in service, and I order online, and then they load it up. I now think I have a green thumb!”
The East Cobb mother and office assistant says she enjoys being in the fresh air and spends about 45 minutes a day watering and pruning. “It’s instant gratification, and it’s time away from the kids. I go outside and get some peace and quiet.”
TikTok is a video-sharing social networking service that creates short dance, lip-sync, comedy and talent videos. Marsha Archer, president of M-Squared Public Relations, has found TikTok to be relaxing, fun and a way to spend time with her children, Olivia, 12, and Trey, 15. “I’m in public relations, so I’m always on the phone or doing social media — and then everything shut down, I really needed something to fill my time,” she said. “My kids were doing TikTok, and I asked my daughter if I could dance with her on her TikTok channel, and she said absolutely not. But, she said she would set up my own channel for me.”
The result was hours of quality time with her children setting the channel up, answering questions and helping her navigate the site. “I’m so excited. I even got my husband to dance, and he doesn’t like to dance, but it doesn’t matter. My daughter will dance in mine, but I’m not allowed in hers. You just find something that’s funny, or you can pretend you’re one of the “Friends” characters. You do what you want to do, and then you cut and paste. It’s all trial and error, but I love the role-playing part. It’s so relaxing and fun.”
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She also sees a business angle to it. “TikTok is where the teenagers are going and I have to keep up with what’s happening.”
How much fun and relaxation is Archer having with TikTok? “My husband had to take my phone away from me,” she said. “I set it up on Thursday, and I spent about seven hours on Saturday and Sunday. I’ve gone down that rabbit hole.”
Other relaxing hobbies include:
Dancing: Turn up the music and cut a rug. Or, if you want to take a dance class or dance with others, there are a variety of dance videos and classes available.
Exercise: Yoga is perfect for a stay-at-home distraction. Others are doing cardio workouts at home using online videos or classes.
Journaling: For all those wanna-be writers who worry they have nothing to write about, well, this health crisis is fodder. Since everyone is going through a historic event together, write about it!
Baking: Many find cooking reduces stress but baking combines the relaxation of cooking with the joy of a chocolate cupcake. Baking bread comes a close second. Just the smell of fresh-baked bread reduces stress.
Learn a Language: Again, how many people wished they had the time to learn a new language? Well, the time is now.
RELAXING BOOKS TO READ
There’s always time for a good book
Reading is a classic hobby and a fantastic way to relax.
Eagle Eye Book Shop in Decatur has noticed more people are on its website and order-ing books for pickup. “People are absolutely turning to books,” says Doug Robinson, one of the co-owners.
Here’s his handpicked selection of books to read.
Never Have I Ever. From "New York Times" bestselling author Joshilyn Jackson, "Never Have I Ever" is a twisting novel of domestic suspense in which a group of women plays a harmless drinking game that escalates into a war of dark pasts.
Tom Mullen's "Lightning Men" tells the story of black and white Atlanta police officers who have their hands full in an overcrowded and rapidly changing Atlanta. Its 1950 and color lines are shifting and racial tensions are simmering. When things spiral out of con-trol and leave a man dead, the officers are forced to choose between loyalty to family or the law.
"Mastering the Art of French Cooking, Volume I: 50th Anniversary Edition" by Julia Child is for both seasoned cooks and beginners who love good food and long to reproduce at home the savory delights of the classic cuisine, from the historic Gallic masterpieces to the seemingly artless perfection of a dish of spring-green peas. This beautiful book, with more than 100 instructive illustrations, is revolutionary in its approach.
We recommend the Brain Quest series of workbooks, Pre-K through Grade 6. It's the ultimate first-grade workbook, with hundreds of curriculum-based activities, exercises, and games in every subject.
Jim Wilson's bestselling bird identification book, "Common Birds of Atlanta," is designed for beginning birders and nature enthusiasts alike, this easy-to-use guide presents 61 of the most common species of birds in the greater Atlanta area.
Southern Gardens highlights the 10 most proven plants in the 15 most popular categories of southern plants in Erica Glasener's "Proven Plants." It is a veritable who's who of plants for the South, reminding the reader of the plants that over time have proven their worthiness to be in every southern garden.
— Selected by Doug Robinson of Eagle Eye Book Shop
10 a.m.- 5 p.m. 2076 N. Decatur Road,Decatur. 404-486-0307, eagleeyebooks.com.