This is the psychology behind why baking bread and gardening is making us feel better during lockdown

Thursday, 9th April 2020, 1:17 pm
Updated Thursday, 9th April 2020, 2:17 pm

Lockdown has had people around the world struggling for things to do while stuck indoors - and many have taken up new hobbies to cope.

From the weird to the wonderful, these are some of the hobbies people have taken up during quarantine - and the psychology behind why they make us feel better during this anxious time.

Bread making and baking

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Possibly the most popular of all lockdown hobbies, the sheer number of people taking up bread making and cake baking has seen flour cleared off supermarket shelves across the country.

A very technical and absorbing activity, baking is believed to help people to relax, and can improve mood.

As baking is often done alongside other people, it can also encourage social bonding - and the finished product at the end is a satisfying reward for your work, too.

Jigsaw puzzles

Jigsaws - once resigned to gathering dust in the corners of pubs and atop family cupboards - are in vogue again, as people seek an activity to keep them busy while stuck inside.

And we're no longer talking just your standard 'picture of a landscape jigsaws'. The Cooper Gallery in Barnsley has launched digital puzzles of famous artworks to keep people busy, while one Etsy seller has created a transparent jigsaw puzzle for those looking for a real challenge.

Solving a jigsaw requires both of your brain hemispheres - enhancing your ability to focus - while successfully placing puzzle pieces in the right place encourages the production of dopamine, which improves your mood.

Jigsaws also remove people from digital devices that often negatively affect mood and sleeping patterns.

Extreme organising

Being stuck in the house for so long has spurred many to embark on some extreme spring cleaning - with some going as far as alphabetising all their spices and ordering their hot sauces from mildest to spiciest.

'Tidy home, tidy mind' is no hackneyed phrase, either. The very existence of Marie Kondo's popular Netflix show Tidying up with Marie Kondo shows the enormous positive effects that cleaning and tidying can have on a person's mental and physical health.

Horticulture

We've suddenly become a nation of amateur gardeners, with even the least green-thumbed among us trying out mini allotment patches and flower beds in our homes - or on balconies and in our gardens, if we're lucky enough to have them.

So what are the benefits of growing your own vegetables, or nurturing a fledgling house plant?

According to a survey by Arboretum last year, 42 per cent of 2,000 participants said that being around plants improved their mental health.

Seeing a plant grow as a result of your care can be immensely rewarding, plus some plants can actually add more oxygen to a room, which will benefit your health.

Comedy videos

Some people have taken to the internet to share some hilarious and downright weird video content they've made in isolation, entertaining not only themselves but others around the world.

For example, one group of housemates made this incredible - and seriously addictive - dance video filmed around their house, while some London-based flatmates decided to re-create the tube in their own shower.

Silly but clever videos like this have been welcome relief from the onslaught of difficult news we've all been dealing with.