Hobbies Increase Health and Happiness
You have to make time for your hobbies!
Remember the feel of Saturday morning soccer? Sitting on freshly cut grass, still damp with dew, lacing up musty leather sneakers before sneaking an orange slice from the team mom’s giant Tupperware. Friends waving, coaches shouting, parents cheering, rivals staring. What a thrill it was to be there, outside, in the sun or rain, a part of something.
Or maybe for you it was that medieval calligraphy set you got for your 12th birthday, the one that you became so engrossed with that you spent half of the summer practicing the letters until you got them just right, then the other half writing elaborate but totally illegible letters to your 20th century friends and family?
Maybe that one was just me?
Whatever it was that floated your boat, I have a newsflash for you.
Hobbies: not just for kids.
Caption: Above is hobbyist guitar maker Dave Aguilar who I photographed and made a short film on. He is holding a guitar he made out of recycled wood. Check out my film about Dave here.
Benefits to Hobbies on Health
It won’t come as a shock to anyone that doing things that make you feel good is a good idea. But research shows that voluntarily engaging in enjoyable leisure activities doesn’t just make our days more pleasurable; it’s actually associated with a slew of positive physiological and psychological results from lower blood pressure, cortisol levels and body mass index to higher levels of positive psychosocial states.
In Fortune Magazine, Courtney Cope, MS, LMFT and senior manager, clinical operations at BetterHelp, shares that hobbies are beneficial because they can:
anchor us back to our most positive childhood memories.
remind us that life doesn’t always have to be so serious.
promote mental relaxation.
reduce our blood pressure and improve our mental health.
allow us to feel successful and competent in a world that can feel very much outside our control.
But don’t dash out and buy a new calligraphy kit just to leave it on the bookshelf collecting dust. If you’re anything like me, between work and family and life, you are long on ideas and short on time. So how do we get some of our time back so we can devote it to greater well-being?
(If you do dash out and buy a calligraphy kit, by the way, shoot me an email and I will absolutely give you my address so you can send us a medieval-style letter.)
Getting Time Back
The first step to making time for a hobby is examining where your time is actually going in the first place.
We’ve all likely experienced some version of this: you sit down in the morning to work and, before you know it, it’s lunchtime and all you’ve done is fire fifty emails back-and-forth (most of which could have been resolved in a five-minute phone call instead). Productive? Sure, kind of. Time-efficient? Probably not.
Tim Ferris, author of the Four Hour Work Week, suggests only answering emails 2-3 times a day: Once in the morning, once prior to lunch, and once in the late afternoon.
Our phones are another time-drain. According to a recent New York Times article, teenagers spend half their waking hours on their smartphones, and the average adult spends 3 hours and 15 minutes each day.
I read the book How to Break up with your Phone by Catherine Price last year, and it was very eye opening. She offers numerous tips, some of which are summarized here in Forbes, including:
Assess your relationship with your phone in the first place
Learn to ride out the cravings, just as you would if you were quitting smoking
Set boundaries for yourself around your phone use
Try a trial separation and see how it makes you feel (Are you squirming in your pants? I am!)
Tips on Finding a Hobby
Congratulations! You’ve carved out all this newfound time in your day and you’re ready to spend it making yourself happier and healthier, i.e. picking up a hobby.
When deciding what hobby to choose, don’t feel as though you must limit yourself to the usual suspects of adult sports leagues, art or writing workshops, and movement classes like dance and yoga (although all of these things are truly awesome, too--ask Allison, she does pretty much all of them).
Your hobby can be just about anything as long as it brings you joy. Here is a list of weird hobbies to bring some inspiration:
Extreme Ironing (yep, it’s a thing)
Stone skipping (this ESPN contest video is oddly peaceful)
Geocaching (treasure hunting can be a hobby)
Element Collecting (I had to look this one up)
Caption: extreme ironing! Not for the faint of heart.
Let us know what you decide to do, and how you made the time to do it! We always want to hear from our readers.
Go onward, to age well and prosper. See you next week.
Caption: Allison and her friend, Laura, modeling healthy adult hobbies for our kids (and crushing it on the field).
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