This is an unprecedented time in our human existence. Most of us have never experienced what we are about to endure. I know this sounds alarmist, and I will forgo the medical/scientific rationale for my beliefs. You can do your own research online and draw your own conclusions about the future.
However, one thing is undeniable, with most of North America and Europe on lockdown, almost all non-essential travel and events cancelled, and with people practising ‘social distancing’… we have a lot more free time on our hands. Free time that we may not have had in the past.
Thankfully we share a wonderful hobby. Did you know that spending time on an activity that you enjoy can improve your mental health and wellbeing? Something that I think we all need or will need soon.
Research shows that people with hobbies are less likely to suffer from stress, low mood, and depression. Hobbies have also been shown to improve self-confidence and improve memory. Hobbies make you feel happier and more relaxed. https://headtohealth.gov.au/meaningful-life/purposeful-activity/hobbies
Here are some of my thoughts as it relates to our hobby:
1. While I am not much in the mood to go downstairs to the layout right now; it’s important to do so. We need positive distractions now more than ever. I find myself turning to the news and social media for end-of-the-world updates way too frequently. Model RR is a great stress-reliever that provides a healthy mental break from my addictive negative habits and allows my mind to focus on other and more creative endeavours.
2. Passion. We are lucky. Model railroading is much more than a distraction as it gives us something to look forward to. Its an escape but it’s also a joy. It’s great to have a passion. And passionate people not only inspire me but tend to be more interesting people in general.
3. Connections. We are a social species and the model railroad community is just that… a community. There are fine folk that I have virtually ‘met’ and interact with in Facebook Groups and have never actually met. I also first discovered people online that have gone on to become real friends whose houses I go to for operating sessions and dinner parties. I hope that in this time, and as we transition to more virtual than physical relationships that it is these connections that will satisfy and enrich us all.
4. Entertainment. There is only so much Netflix and Amazon Prime that one can watch. I love watching YouTube videos and seeing the amazing work that others have posted online. These are not only entertaining but inspiring and motivating. Perhaps it’s a time for a top 10 list of who/what to watch… any suggestions?
5. Explore and develop new skills. I like challenging myself and learning new things. I often joke that the layout is my anti-Alzheimer’s aging strategy. This hobby has taught me things I never thought that I’d be good at and introduced me to the worlds of drones and 3D printing. I am going to use some of this time to try to learn 3D modelling with Fusion 360. What are you planning to do?
6. Get outside. My understanding is that we need to avoid other people (for now). We can and should still go outside….and railfan! Standing by the tracks, camera in hand sounds like a healthy pursuit. If you see me out there, just remember keep 6 feet away is the recommended distance.
If you’re like me, this is a time of some stress. Hopefully with family, friends, faith and the ‘world’s greatest hobby’ it will be a little less stressful. Please let me know what the hobby means to you and how you are planning to use your time.
Now if I could only get my kids interested in the layout.