“To be happy in life, develop at least four hobbies: one to bring you money, one to keep you healthy, one to bring you joy, and one to bring you peace.” – Stan Jacobs, ‘The Dusk and Dawn Master’
Hobbies have always been an integral part of human existence. Although you might think the term is somewhat quaint, you will, whether you consciously did so or not, have picked up some hobbies of your own.
Hobbies come in many forms. If you have ever committed to a form of exercise, that is a hobby. As is a passion for DIY, preparing food, sewing, knitting, collating your favourite music or keeping a journal. Even if they might have begun their presence in your life as mere necessities, these activities often grow organically into passions and projects.
Why Are Hobbies Important?
Hobbies have always been a source of personal enrichment. Indeed, it is fair to say that hobbies, activities and passion projects are one of the great things for which life is worth living. They are important foe enrichment, they bring us joy and they help us to both grow personally and to bond and connect with others. Hobbies give you something to do, something to talk about and a personal sense of purpose.
There are many good reasons for which to cultivate new hobbies. They make us more interesting (allegedly), help us to learn patience and focus, enriches our social lives and increases self-esteem. However, especially considering the world’s current events, perhaps the most important side effect is the boost to our mental health. Hobbies help us to relax, de-stress and focus on positive activity.
If you don’t have a hobby that you can think of, or even if you do and fancy trying something new now that you are at home a little more than you would like, why not try one or two of these…
1. Writing and Journaling
I had pondered upon staring to write for a long time before I gave it a go. Many people, I think, are afraid of starting to write because they worry that they will be no good at it. It is a funny thing with humans, sometimes we are not prepared to be bad at something to begin with.
When I began to write as a hobby, a few years ago now, I found it to be a hugely beneficial exercise. Not only did I organically find a unique voice through practice, but also I managed to empty some of the clutter in my mind. It also helped me to articulate my feelings about many things in a way that I might not have been able to when trapped in my own head. This is a hobby well worth getting into for pleasant surprises and for your mental health.
I often think I should read more. Very often, it is because I feel that I don’t have the time. However, when I do eventually manage to get into a book, I never regret it; the escapism, the focus, the calm, the joy. If there is one thing that lockdown gives us, it is time. So why not pick up a book? It’s an easy hobby to get into!
3. Watching TV
Believe it or not, watching TV can be a very valuable hobby. Screen time gets a bad rap. However, where the watching of TV and movies becomes a waste of time, is when it is passive. Have you ever found yourself in front of the TV but also scrolling on your phone? Consciously watching and engaging with interesting programmes is a perfectly good way to relax. There is nothing wrong with comfort. So, why not make a thing of it? Close the blinds, grab a blanket and a snack and engage with a box set of your choice.
Or rather ‘growing’! There is a sense of achievement in helping something to grow, from seed to fruit or flower. This can be done in a big garden, or on a sunny windowsill. It takes patience, learning, love and consistency… all wonderful personal side effects to be gained from a new hobby.
5. A New Form of Exercise
You may have found that the current restrictions have rendered your normal forms of exercise inaccessible. With pools, gyms and parks closed, the fitness options for many of us have changed. So, why not take this opportunity to master a new fitness skill? I used to go to the gym, but it closed, and running locations have become a little crowded, so I, for example, have elected to master skipping! Having a new skill to master is both challenging and satisfying. It is great to see progress on a daily basis; this boosts self-esteem, endorphins and, crucially, fitness. What new sport will you take up?
Painting has always had a reputation for being calming. It has the same quality as reading when it comes to losing yourself in a pleasurable activity. Indeed, if painting is not your thing then drawing, modelling and colouring are also amazing ways keep your mind at ease at the same time as exercising your creative muscles. The best thing about drawling, doodling even, is that all you need is a pencil, some paper, and you imagination.
When it comes to mindful hobbies, it will be no surprise to you that meditation is an excellent pastime. Even if it is something you are not practised at, a simple meditation can have a huge effect on your outlook and the mood of your day. Again, this is easy to do at home, and there are countless online locations to find a practice that works for you. Just make yourself a little home meditation nest, and start with 10 minutes each day to lift your heart and soul in this time of worry.
By Chris Thomson
A great place to start for accessible mindfulness meditation practices is on Neil Seligman’s excellent YouTube channel: Neil Seligman on YouTube
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