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I have written many a post on how hobbies can help your soul and make you feel better and happier and one way to see if you would like to take up a new hobby is to buy a book and learn all about it.

In November I wrote a post on “5 Books on Hobbies for Happiness to Buy This Christmas”, This list included Puzzle Books, Embroidery, Calligraphy, Knitting and Sewing. Another post I wrote in August was “12 Ways to Boost Your Self Esteem With a New Skill” This list included Blogging, Candle Making, Painting & Drawing, Birdwatching, Baking, Photography, Needlework, Knitting & Crochet, Reading, Scrapbooking, Hand Made Cards and Writing, all of which you could learn from a book or an online course.

Without my hobbies, I know for a fact that I would be quite miserable. Even on my worst days, I can go to another place by simply reading my book, blogging, or doing a bit of art. It takes me away from my pain into another world.

I have found another couple of books I thought I would add to my hobby lists which are about knitting and embroidery. It’s still not too late to get these from Santa then if we do have a lockdown situation in January you have something to enjoy.

The Sock Knitting Bible by Lynne Rowe is available from Amazon for £13.99

If you were inspired by Tom Daley’s poolside knitting triumphs then this is the book for you? It is the ultimate guide for knitters of all abilities from beginners to advanced techniques.

The Sock Knitting Bible will break down all the different techniques and show wannabe sock knitters that there is nothing to be scared of. Covering everything from casting on to colourwork and everything in between, knitters won’t find a better reference book for all their sock knitting needs. Whether you want to knit toe-up, cuff down or even two at a time socks, we’ve got it covered. Sock knitting is the perfect portable project too – once you know the basics you can dip in and out until they are flying off your needles!

There are a lot of sock pattern books out there but this is more than a pattern book – it covers all the different techniques and methods for sock knitting! There are step-by-step instructions for all the various sock knitting techniques so that instead of sounding like a foreign language making socks becomes your second language. There are also step-by-steps instructions for three basic socks so that you can follow them even if you are an absolute beginner and then start to choose your preferred method for sock making.

Author Lynne Rowe explains what kind of yarns are best suited to different styles of socks and shares her techniques for how to get the best finish. We also look at the different kinds of tools available for making socks so you can experiment with double pointed needles, the magic loop method and small circular needles as well as innovative new products such as flexible dpns until you find your own favourite method.

With this book you can put that beautiful skein of hand dyed yarn you couldn’t resist to good use by making the perfect pair of socks because in addition to the extensive techniques there are also 10 projects by some of the most exciting and talented sock designers, illustrating a number of the different knitting methods and styles. Here you will find stripes, fair isle, cables, lacy, sparkly and snuggly socks: a pattern for all your needs. It won’t be long before you are delighting your friends and family with your new found skills.

The embroidery book is called The Big Book of Hand-Embroidery Projects: 52 Patterns You’ll Love to Stitch by That Patchwork Place and is available on Amazon for £20.22

This book is perfect if you are new to embroidery or even if you are a pro as it has so many patterns you can try. Sit back and unwind as you surround yourself with the art (and fun!) of hand embroidery.

You’ll find 52 projects including tiny treasures, tea towels, small quilts and runners, bags and pouches, and even note cards–all designed to give your hands something beautiful to stitch while you kick back and relax.

Gather your favourite threads and flosses, scissors or snips, and a thimble, and prepare to embroider the evening away. Whether it’s been a while or you’ve never embroidered before, you’ll find all you need in this hefty volume packed with pretty projects from your favourite designers like Gail Pan, Robin Kingsley, Kathy Schmitz, Anni Downs, Lynette Anderson, and more.

Also, you’ll have all the information on tools, techniques, and stitches at your fingertips to set you up for success to make any of the featured designs. Put on the kettle, brew a cup of your favourite coffee or tea, and immerse yourself in hand embroidery with this treat for your stitching soul.

Whatever you decide might be a great little hobby for you I hope you can enjoy them as much as I enjoy mine.

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I have written endless posts on how much I think hobbies are an essential tool to have when you are suffering from chronic pain.

It gives you something to get up for, something to think about and it can boost your self-esteem no end when you finish a project.

Some easy hobbies to have a go at are:

  1. Blogging – this has to be my number one hobby. It has helped me over the years through some difficult times. I started writing this blog back in 2007 and how have friends all over the world who give words of encouragement and love when you need it. WordPress show you in six easy steps how to start a blog here.
  2. Candle-Making – there are lots of classes you can access for this online or local groups. The therapeutic scents from making candles can give you health benefits while making them and make great gifts. The Candle Academy have courses on Candle Making.
  3. Painting and drawing – another easy one to access from home and online. You can simply try painting by numbers which has become very fashionable or just colouring books or join an art class online like Art-k.co.uk who hold classes for adults all over the country.
  4. Bird watching – this is another favourite of mine or it was from my old house in the middle of a forest as I was surrounded by beautiful birds but since moving South into a new house I do not have my visitors anymore. I have spent a lot of time and energy this year putting things in the garden to attract birds so I am keeping my fingers crossed they soon start arriving. Amazon have a great Bird Watching Journal.
  5. Photography – this is one I would like to study as now that we live in the country surrounded by the beautiful South Downs there are lots of views I could take pictures of. Another one which has online courses. Tutorful have online classes on Photography.
  6. Baking – I used to bake a bit before but really got into in lockdown and completely changed my baking equipment to all silicone which are amazing and put all my equipment in two baskets so that I just get the baskets out and I am good to go. My book ‘A Little Book on Tea Cake and Chocolate‘ is also available on Amazon.
  7. Needlework – lots of classes online for these, or local groups and an abundance of kits you can buy online. I asked for some for Christmas last year but I must admit I do suffer with my neck a bit after sewing so maybe pass on this one if you have a neck problem. The Royal School of Needlework have online classes.
  8. Knitting/Crochet – when we first moved here I joined a crochet class but really struggled to get my head around it whereas knitting is something I have always done. Unfortunately due to lockdown etc no classes nearby were available but I still managed to knit quite a bit for my grandchildren. Knitting groups can be found here.
  9. Reading/Reading Group – joining a book club nearby or online just makes you read a bit more and makes the books much more enjoyable and you will find books you would never have thought of reading before being very interesting. Reading Group Network.
  10. Scrapbooking – another hobby I would like to start as I have a suitcase of photos and would love to put them together for the family. Lots of books and classes and products you can buy online for this so its an easy one to start from home. Scrapbook.Com have everything you need to start making your scrapbooks.
  11. Handmade Cards– I only make handmade cards, I hardly ever buy them. My friends and family seem to expect them from me now so I try to change the theme as often as possible and will be starting on my Christmas range soon. A ton of ideas, books and supplies online. I never need to leave home for anything I need for this hobby. Crafty Arts for all your supply needs.
  12. Writing – well if you love blogging then you will probably be someone who loves writing. I have self-published quite a few books including a book for both my children of their life and their family down the line up to the age of them being 30, I have written a health book and a baking book and I have just finished my second book for my 2 year old granddaughter. Lulu is a great site to start your first self published book.

Check out some of my previous posts on hobbies to find out other things you can enjoy from home.

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I have put together my take on ten ways to stay strong and stay well. I hope they work for you.

1. If you have been told to take things a bit easier or change your lifestyle because of your condition then embrace the change rather than thinking on the negative side of things. If your condition is life changing rather than life threatening then you can change things for yourself, just think positively. Look at how you can alter things to suit your needs then life will be simpler.

2. Join groups online or in person where you can chat and reach out to other people who have the same condition. Starting my blog back in 2007 was the start of my journey of acceptance that my back problem was here to stay and it wasn’t long before I had a few friends from around the world who were also suffering like me. Take advantage of the fact that you can meet and make friends with people within different cultures and languages. They become friends through the bad times and the good.

3. Get up and go. You must push yourself to make the effort to get up and go. Even during lockdown I would shower and pop a bit of lipstick and mascara on every day. It makes me feel human even if some days I do not leave the house. If I didn’t do it and I caught a glimpse of myself in the mirror I noticed how much worse I looked so it’s just a routine for me now. After a cuppa and taking my medications I shower dress and pop a bit of make up on and by the time I get downstairs I feel a completely different person.

4. Start a hobby. During lockdown I had a go at a number of new projects and hobbies. I learnt how to do cross stitch. I started doing adult paint by numbers. I made a sensory book for my granddaughter’s first birthday which took me ages but was so worth it. I have also written her a story book and have the next three lined up. I learnt how to make box cushion covers for my outside chairs. I became a dab hand at baking cakes using recipes where everything is put into one bowl then whisked up and popped into the oven, which saved me so much time and energy. I knitted a granny blanket for outside so I could sit out on our verandah even if it was a bit nippy. I made lots of handmade cards and numerous other projects. For me personally this is an escape route from my pain. My family want me to write a book on all I have made over the lockdowns (with instructions) as they are sure it would inspire others to take up a hobby. Do you think it’s worth writing it as you are the ones who I think would read it? Everything I made is done working around my conditions and pain. Everything I made was made the easiest way I could find to make it.

5. Help out at a charity either online or at the charity if you can. Did you know that studies have found that being a giver of something like your time can make you even happier than being the recipient of something. They say it is altruism which is doing something good for someone else which releases endorphins, in the same way as exercise does, as well as oxytocin, which is known as the ‘feel good hormone’. It doesn’t necessarily need to be a charity maybe helping in a library, or reading stories to school children. You would be surprised how much voluntary help is needed in the U.K. and the World. Even writing a letter to someone could make their day.

6. Walk, walk and walk. Walking is the most important thing you can do to keep healthy and fit. Buy yourself a fitness watch it will truly make your day when you see how many steps you have achieved. It definitely spurs me on when I am on a bad day to just take a short walk outside in the fresh air. I think we all know the benefits that walking can do for you but even more so in the outside where you can listen to birdsong and nature. We live in the country and its only a short walk onto one of many of the South Downs links but since the first lockdown I noticed a big change in the sound of nature outside. A great book to buy to help and inspire you with nature is The Almanac: A Seasonal Guide to 2021 by Lia Leendertz (Mitchell Beazley). It is a celebration of the coming year, I know we are nearly half way through but it is still beautiful. It features recipes, local customs, monthly gardening tips and what to watch out for in the skies and seas. It is beautifully written and illustrated and a perfect book for your coffee table. It is available on Amazon at the moment for only £6.64

7. Rest, rest and rest some more. If I did not rest every afternoon for a couple of hours the rest of my day would be very miserable. My body now knows I need that rest and I soon start to feel the need to lie down not long after my lunch. It does shorten my days but I feel so much better after it that I feel its worth my while. Most days I will sleep solid for about an hour but some days I just rest and read. I made my bedroom like a sanctuary so that I enjoy relaxing there. If I am having a really bad day then I use my Yoke Wellness Acupressure Mat on top of the bed or my heat pad. They all help with pain. If you can’t manage that time then why not try sitting in your chair with your feet up listening to a pod cast or songs. Just giving your body that short time to renew itself will make a big difference to your pain and how you feel.

8. Keep up with technology. I think this is quite essential for people in pain as it’s our route out of the discomfort we are feeling and without technology none of us would be here and reading this post today. There are lots and lots of free online courses, podcasts and downloads to keep you up to speed with what is going on in the cyber world. You might even find a home study course you have always wanted to do.

9. Create some time for yourself. If you are busy with a young family or trying to hold onto a job, or are home alone and suffering with a chronic condition it is essential that you create time just for you alone. I am lucky enough to have a husband that does lots for me but I still try to have a couple of hours of me time, usually over the weekend, for me to do things just for me. I try to create a type of spa treatment for myself and have a long soak rather than a shower and just treat my body to whatever it might need in nourishment. A lovely deep bath filled with the scent of lovely lavender or your own favourite oils and a few candles can immediately create its own atmosphere. Pop your head phones on, (but remember to leave the phone on the floor outside the bath) and lie and enjoy some lovely music. It will take you to another place for a while. Think sandy beaches, lovely sunshine, bird song and the noise of the sea and just relax and enjoy.

10. Finally writing, from writing a blog like this, writing letters to family, friends or a new pen friend, writing a book, writing a journal, writing a diary, making a note of your symptoms, writing a play, writing a poem, writing your life story or someone else’s life story or even a book from all your blog posts. Writing is easy, therapeutic and can be done almost anywhere and my life would be very miserable if I could not get onto my iPad or laptop and write. I struggle to write by hand as my hand shakes so I can only use a pen with a very thin nib to write with and it is not very neat but I can manage a key board with ease so this is how I do all my writing. People love receiving hand written letters so write that letter you have been meaning to write for years and start doing it regularly.