Go on, pursue a hobby!

hobbies and wellness

May 20, 2020

For a lot of us, spending time on a hobby feels like an indulgence or a slightly guilty pleasure. Something to be sneaked in, only once the Mountain of Everything Else has been successfully scaled. Often, when life gets too busy and frenetic, the hobby is the first casualty; craft gets packed away, the garden gets neglected and the hobby-related connections get shelved ‘for now’. Leap forward several months, years, even decades and we catch ourselves saying things like, “Oh yes, I used to love photography (insert your own hobby here) when I was younger. I was part of a club and we had such great times”.

Mothballing a hobby is often a source of regret and its loss can have implications for our wellbeing too. After all, a hobby is a marvelous way to unwind from the rigours of our daily routine. Our lives feel so busy – the urgent things have strident voices and refuse to get in an orderly queue! The trouble with hobbies is that they are too well mannered and quietly spoken for their own good, accepting of the neglect. But it’s not just the hobby that gets neglected – we suffer too. Spending time on activities that we enjoy can help improve our mental health and wellbeing. This is really important when we consider that anxiety and stress are two of the most common mental health problems of the modern world; the Anxiety and Depression Association of America cites that 18% of adults in the US experience anxiety disorders each year!

I can elect something I love and absorb myself in it.
Anaïs Nin

Research shows that people with hobbies are less likely to suffer from low moods, stress and depression – essentially hobbies allow us to easily self-medicate. A recent survey on stress and wellbeing conducted by the Australian Psychological Society found that four in five participants found activities like listening to music and spending time on a hobby was an effective way of managing stress. So, take some time out of your busy day to rekindle a hobby and feel the benefits!

Different hobbies bring physical, mental, emotional, and creative benefits and combine to make life more meaningful, relaxing and fun!

There is creative reading as well as creative writing.
Ralph Waldo Emerson

Physical hobbies like swimming, tramping and yoga have clear physiological benefits because they increase both your heart rate and brain function. Other benefits include lower blood pressure, weight loss, building muscle, strengthening bones, and an overall increase in energy.

Mental and emotional benefits accrue when we leverage a hobby to take our minds off the more pressing concerns of daily life like work, family conflicts and paying bills. Also, hobbies like gardening, painting, drawing, cooking and photography can give us a sense of mastery which is good for our esteem.

Hobbies that help us form friendships and meet others add another layer of support to our lives which is also good for our wellbeing, particularly in our Third Age. Meet Up is a great platform for this – there are dozens of groups in every city dedicated to all kinds of hobbies like exploring new restaurants, seeing movies, discussing philosophy, trying new technology, playing music etc. It is likely that you’ll find others interested in the same things you are!

Hobbies that engage our creativity are also great for our wellbeing. Examples include writing. cake decorating, knitting, woodworking, restoring old cars etc.

Ultimately, hobbies take many shapes and sizes and that’s the beauty of them. They are without question, good for us and well worth the time invested. If you’re still struggling with any feelings of guilt or over-indulgence, look at it this way, hobbies are a public service! In pursuing a hobby and actively managing stress and anxiety, you’re doing a good thing for yourself, your family and your community. You’ll be calmer, more creative, healthier and more confident and one heck of a role model for anyone needing inspiration. Thank you!

Happiness lies in the joy of achievement and the thrill of creative effort.
Franklin D. Roosevelt
“Calmness is the cradle of power.”
J.G. Holland