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It’s the dreaded question on any survey: What are your hobbies? Your mind draws a blank and you start seriously contemplating if getting to work on time or finding the time to brush your teeth could count as a hobby. While we all have daily tasks, it is important to make time for things you enjoy so you don’t get burned out. A hobby is so much more than just doing something fun, and the benefits you’ll reap should convince you.
Find Stress Relief
With over 70 percent of Americans reporting that they regularly experience physical and psychological symptoms due to stress, the need for some type of relief is dire. Maybe the kids are giving you grey hair or your boss at work is relentless with the workload. Rather than holding it all in, use a hobby to zone out and calm down. By focusing your mind on the task in front of you, your brain is essentially overloaded and doesn’t have room for the stressful stuff. The more capacity you are using to become completely focused and absorbed in a task, the less capacity there is to focus on the countless problems and worries floating around in your head. Distraction is your most powerful defense.
Focusing on your chosen hobby is a great way to clear your mind too, which is one reason art therapy is used so often when helping people recover from addiction and other mental health disorders.
Jennifer Racioppi, a health and success coach, urges her clients to pursue hobbies that help them to enter a meditative flow state. Flow is the “state of mind where action and awareness are merged, and you can shut out everything in the world other than what you’re focused on.” You’ve experienced flow when you’ve sat down to a task and looked up to realize that several hours have passed. Think of hobbies as an intentional way of entering into flow.
Form Social Connections
While some hobbies are done solo, hobbies can help you to form social connections by getting you out in your community, meeting new people, and sharing your passions. Social connection is one of the key components of happiness, and hobbies offer an easy avenue to create those connections by encouraging you to interact with people at your own pace. For example, if you’re in a book club you choose whether or not to speak up. If you join a sports league, you decide how much team banter or small talk you make. You have the power to choose how much interaction you want and need.
Organizing a hobby group is a good way to jumpstart your social connections and meet people who enjoy the same passions as you. Make it fun and meaningful by designing your own shirt to promote your group, and consider starting a Facebook group to help spread the word in a cost-effective way. You’ll be surprised by how many people are out there looking for someone to share their interests with, but thought that they couldn’t possibly find someone who enjoyed a particular hobby as much as them.
Regardless of whether the hobby you choose is something you are experienced at or have never tried your hand at, you’ll gain a boost to your self-confidence as you solve problems and complete the task you set out to do. The boost could carry over into the problem-solving part of your brain, and you’ll find yourself looking for other challenges to tackle such as that work project you’ve been putting off for so long. In addition, the added hobby could help you to structure your time. Things take as much time as you have, so if your day or evening is unscheduled, you’ll likely end up working late. If you have a scheduled hobby group such as a book club or knitting group, it could be the fire you need to power through your tasks and get them done quickly.
Take a moment and seriously think about what you enjoy doing. Is there something you’ve always wanted to do? Perhaps there is something you used to love doing but for some reason you stopped. There is no better time than now so don’t put it off. The benefits you receive will be well worth the extra effort.