For many of us, carving out time and energy to engage in a hobby seems like just one more thing we do not have time to do. Work, school, family, religious, and community obligations can be overwhelming, leaving little room for doing the things we enjoy. Although, a quick Google search reveals countless articles and blogs explaining the personal and professional benefits of engaging in a hobby.
Hobbies take us out of our everyday experience and give us a chance to do something we love and are passionate about. Engaging in a hobby can be a mental escape, help us hone a skill, or just provide an opportunity to socialize with others. Hobbies are a great way to disconnect from work and break away from the monotony of daily schedules. Also, even though it may seem daunting to add ONE MORE THING to your to-do list, having a hobby has been shown to be a stress reliever.
“Hobbies are often thought of as activities for people who lead quiet, relaxed lives. However, people with full, busy, even stressful lives may need hobbies more than the average person, and benefit greatly from having hobbies in their lives. Hobbies bring many benefits that usually make them more than worth the time they require” (Scott, 2018, para. 1).
Benefits of Hobbies
Different types of hobbies offer different types of benefits. Following are some examples:
Physical hobbies 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.
Examples: hiking, camping, swimming, yoga, or martial arts
Mental and Emotional
Carving out time for activities you enjoy is an easy way to improve your mental health and overall emotional well-being. Hobbies decrease stress by relaxing you and taking your mind off the more pressing concerns of daily life like work and paying bills. Also, hobbies can give us a sense of mastery and control. Our esteem level tends to rise as we feel ever more accomplished at a particular task. The following examples have been associated with improved mental health and depression reduction.
Examples: gardening, listening to music, painting or drawing, cooking, coloring, and photography
Social and Interpersonal
Hobbies are a great way to socialize and meet new friends. Social hobbies facilitate bonds with others and add another layer of support to your life serving to reduce stress. Meet Up is a widely used platform for people to “meet new people, learn new things, find support, get out of their comfort zones, and pursue their passions, together” (Meetup, 2019, para. 1). There are dozens of groups in every city dedicated to all kinds of group activities. It is likely that you will find others interested in the same things you are, and there will be a meetup group already established. If not, you can create your own meetup group.
Examples: exploring new restaurants, seeing movies, discussing philosophy, trying new technology, playing music, playing games, and investing in real estate
Some hobbies inspire us to tap into our creative side. This can be especially helpful for people who have no creative outlets at their work. Engaging in a creative hobby can help train your brain to be more creative in other areas of your life.
Examples: writing fiction, hand lettering or calligraphy, cake or cookie decorating, soap making, quilting, crocheting or knitting, and jewelry-making
Some people enjoy hobbies that give them the opportunity to improve their confidence level, boost their self-esteem, and improve their quality of life. If you are thinking about a hobby like this, consider whether there is something you would like to change about yourself or improve upon. For example, would you like to be a competent public speaker, lose weight, or become more heart healthy? Do you need to improve your attention to detail, or would you like to learn a new language?
Examples: traveling alone, cooking, meditation, completing puzzles, journaling, or volunteering.
Choosing a Hobby
If you are interested in devoting some time and energy to a hobby but do not yet have one, consider the things you enjoy, things that interest you, and perhaps things you would like to improve upon. If you have never had a hobby, it can be overwhelming to choose one. Considering the following questions might be helpful in narrowing your choices for a hobby:
- Do you enjoy competition?
- Do you prefer to enjoy a doing things alone or with others?
- Is there a particular skill you would like to develop?
- Are you getting enough physical activity in your daily life?
- Are there things you enjoyed doing in your childhood that you would like to revisit?
- In what ways do you want your hobby to challenge or change you?
- How much time can you devote to your new hobby?
- How much money can you invest in your new hobby?
- With what types of people would you like to interact?
- What kinds of benefits would you like your hobby to provide?
Some hobbies can provide a way to save or make money. For example, to save money you can refurbish items you find at a garage sale or grow your own vegetables. To make money, you can sell the photographs you take or the cakes you bake. Exercise caution though if you are planning to save or make money with your hobbies as it can easily sap the joy out of doing it and create more stress especially if you have to make business decisions about your hobby.
Hobbies are essential to having a well-rounded life. Saving some time for yourself to enjoy a hobby can provide the physical, mental, emotional, and creative benefits that make life more meaningful, relaxing, and fun!
Regardless of which hobby you choose, the benefits of engaging in that hobby will likely surprise you.