With millions of Americans unsettled by the national lockdown during the coronavirus pandemic, it is more imperative than ever before to develop essential, stress-relieving hobbies that soothe as a vital diversion to daily anxiety and uncertainty. During these stay-at-home, statewide orders, I have been unable to operate Mia Brazilia, like many other small businesses across the country and the globe. Embracing the pursuit of hobby has enabled me to relax and temper my anxieties with a myriad mind,body, and soul restoration techniques. The following five, fun hobbies to start should offer the same piece of mind to the curious beginner:

  • Reading

One of the biggest surprises for me during the past month is my decision to adopt the hobby of reading. As someone who normally is operating on a ten-hour daily schedule for Mia Brazilia, I rarely was afforded the opportunity during any given work week to sit down and open up a good book for enjoyment. However, much to my own personal surprise, reading has unlocked several benefits to me that I previously never knew existed. In the first place, reading is surely inexpensive with books available for consumption through apps, the Internet, iTunes, and other technological mediums, in addition to the traditional, brick and mortar bookstore. When you undertake reading, you can be compelled to focus on a consequential subject that offers a didactic engagement or escape into another world that provokes one's creativity and innovation skills. For those individuals who chafe at opening up a physical book and reading themselves, audiobooks offer an enticing alternative medium. Whether you turning on while lying down in your bedroom or during a vigorous walk in your neighborhood, the audiobook affords a wonderful diversion that evokes calmness and concentration.

  • Cooking

Growing up in a Greek household, I was taught by my mother at an early age to stage any kitchen as a fertile ground for creative expression and family combradiery. Whether it was designing a bowl of avgolemono soup or a bountiful dish of moussaka, my mother infused in me a life-long appreciation of food-making from scratch (and an obsession for olive oil to boot!). What is enticing about culinary arts as a hobby is the endless array of categories that you can experiment. From cooking main-course meals to detouring into desserts and baked goods, the culinary green thumb can open up a brave, new world of gastronomic delights to the entire family. Speaking of family, what better way to involve the entire family than to initiate a family-sponsored evening or afternoon of cooking? Throughout the experience of making a cake from scratch or a delectable, Italian or Mexican feast, you and your children and/or significant other can bond over a shared memory as well as instill healthy eating habits that can last a lifetime.

  • Yoga

A personal favorite of mine, practicing yoga is a life-affirming hobby that will rejuvenate your body and restore your soul during these trying times. One of the most immediate benefits of yoga will be your discernible improvement with regard to flexibility. While you obviously should start with beginning poses to avoid injury and develop your knowledge, before long you will be amazed at the rapid, learning curve that will enable you to advance to more challenging poses. With this increased flexibility, chronic aches and pains that you've carried for years or even decades will be mitigated. After adopting yoga as a hobby when i launched Mia Brazilia in 2003, I quickly discovered that my postural awareness had dramatically improved, likely due to the fact that I had been walking around with overly-tight hips, hamstrings, and connective tissue. Since I also go to the gym regularly for strength training, maintaining flexibility is crucial to marry my strength gains to my flexibility improvement. Too often, regular gym attendees will surrender flexibility whenever they build strength. This precarious dichotomy can lead to unfortunate injuries in the fitness studio or gym. The health benefits derived from a daily or weekly yoga plan include improved blood pressure, heart rate, adrenal gland regulation, lower blood sugar level, improved memory and concentration, and a marked boost in your immune system. With alternative, hi-tech mediums of yoga instruction available to the beginning yoga practitioner through Youtube yoga channels and yoga apps for the TV, computer, and smartphone, the only requirement for a home yoga session is a mat and a winning attitude.

  • Playing a Musical Instrument

Who doesn't enjoy listening to music in the course of any given day? Its therapeutic effects on the human mind and spirit are self-evident. But, did you know that learning to play a musical instrument yourself can also derive intellectual benefits too? Scientists have discovered that mastering a musical instrument stimulates cognitive function and can even alter brain composition. Musical training as a hobby also affords the recipient heightened, mental alacrity and focus due to its impact on the complicated, sensory processes of the human brain. Typically, as people age, their corresponding reaction time slows down. However, several academic studies have shown that by playing a musical instrument, one can forestall this slowdown and elicit increased reaction times. Furthermore, musicians have consistently shown superior auditory and tactile skills, owing to the integrated requirements of multiple senses, including vision, hearing, and touch. While the most dramatic alteration of the brain likely occurs during youth, telltale signs of brain changes in even elderly populations that were introduced to musical instruments for the first time have been detected. Aside from the physiological benefits that playing a musical instrument avails, picking up a guitar or violin will forge new relationships and strengthen bonds with others who also undertake this welcome hobby, leaving you more connected and involved with the outside world. Humans are social animals and connecting to others through the portal of music will alleviate stress and depression.

  • Walking

If you live in a state or country that is still permitting its citizenry to walk outside in the neighborhood, starting a daily walking routine is a delightful hobby to incorporate into your weekly lifestyle plan. Whenever i am at home or on the road for a Mia Brazilia trade show or special event, I always make sure that I schedule at least thirty minutes of the day to a vigorous and refreshing walk. Incorporating a daily walk dramatically reduces your risk of coronary heart disease while also lowering your blood sugar levels. Like many Americans, owning a pet has given me an instinctual impetus to walk outdoors for my animal's sake as well as my own. Since I adopted my dog, I have gone on daily, 30 minute walks and have felt a heightened boost in energy as well as with my immune system. Health studies have shown a strong correlation between a daily walk and a diminution of risk with respect to illness. Taking a vigorous walk can also improve mental health for those individuals suffering from depression, anxiety, and stress.

While this post-Coronavirus setting has proven to be an unsettling, stressful period of our nation's history, opportunity still abounds for each and every one of us to stoke creativity and inspiration through the adoption of hobbies. Reading, cooking, yoga, playing a musical instrument, and walking are five rewarding hobbies to embrace that will surely activate your brain, improve your health, and galvanize your spirit. Put a positive stamp on your life by the pursuit of these enlightening hobbies!