Finding Calm During the Storm

An psychological explanation as to why students may find themselves turning back to “comfort” hobbies, in stressful or difficult situations

Three+beautiful+ornaments+that+sophomore+Jenelle+Jensen+crafted+using+clay+to+show+the+nativity+scene.+This+sculpture+was+made+during+quarantine+and+clay+sculpting+has+become+an+activity+that+Jensen+loves.

Three beautiful ornaments that sophomore Jenelle Jensen crafted using clay to show the nativity scene. This sculpture was made during quarantine and clay sculpting has become an activity that Jensen loves.

Zoey Zarkou

The coronavirus has brought many changes into people’s lives, and, for many, these changes include much more time spent at home. A handful of people have been using this extra time to not only explore a new hobby, but to rediscover past forms of entertainment, such as music and various activities, that our younger selves loved. In a world that is seen as constantly updating and advancing, the action of going back to past hobbies may seem unusual, yet it has a deep psychological explanation.

     “Modern theories, when they talk about stress and anxiety, we as humans, search for comfort and search for routine,” psychology teacher, Kyle Hall said. “So, when you think about little kids. Why do little kids want a story read to them over and over and over again? Because it gives them guidance and gives them routine…they feel safe.”

     Owing to a variety of reasons, the coronavirus has caused such feelings of stress and anxiety for many. According to the US Census Bureau, which was taken in December 2020, 11% more people have reported symptoms of anxiety and depression than in previous years (https://www.nature.com/articles/d41586-021-00175-z). As a result of these stressful and fear causing times, people often reach out to past hobbies, or even new hobbies. These past hobbies are used as a method to feel safe and regain control of our environments, and can also help us to develop our talents and explore new activities.

     “When we become like a rat racer and always just try and grind through the week to get through to the weekend. Then we’ll just grind through high school to get to college. Most of your life is the grind,” Hall said, “…so when we say, ‘We just gotta get through the pandemic’, that mentality misses out on a year of your life where a lot of good stuff happened…There is a lot of good that comes from it, if you choose to see that good.”

     Sophomore Jenelle Jensen first began clay sculpting at the beginning of quarantine. “It has really helped as a coping method with stress, or really anything that has been going on,” Jensen said. “[Clay sculpting] releases my creativity and I get to express myself in ways that I find I don’t often can express myself.” Hall also shares that he watches the show “The Office” to promote a sense of calm and normality in the world, despite any increased amounts of negativity. 

     Just like Jensen, many students have begun fresh hobbies, or picked up on old ones, which have brought feelings of control and comfort. These hobbies decrease the negativity and chaos that moments may bring, and help us to look for the good, as Hall describes.