By: Cordelia Bloom
Before jumping right into the article, please enjoy this microfiction insert:
I woke up one day and there I was—paralyzed at a question I had just read online:
“What do you enjoy doing in your personal time?”
My brain actually got quiet and not a thought punctured into it.
As I kept re-reading it, I could feel my eyes getting bigger. I wonder if reading this daily blog counts? I mean, I’ve been hustling for as long as I can remember and when I’m not on the clock, I take care of errands or clean the apartment or spoil my fur baby. Would it count if I enjoyed doing these things? I kind of do because I take pleasure in having control over situations, and who doesn’t like to coddle their pet? But—to name a hobby of mine?
It took me weeks to come up with watercolor painting; something I’d always done since I was a child. I realized it had been years since the last time I picked up a paintbrush.
Why did I stop, I wonder?
The next thing I knew, I had reorganized my entire apartment: created a space near the windows and all new materials, and colors and brushes, sponges, palettes, canvas and so many other things I felt like I just needed in order to rekindle the spark between myself and my art.
I couldn’t remember the last time I felt this excited! I felt toasty on the inside with a constant jolt of energy just flowing through me—
Why did I stop painting?
The moment I unwrapped and situated everything in its rightful place, I got the feeling that I wanted to cry. Suddenly I felt nervous and anxious. It had been such a long time. What if I no longer could in fact paint?
Thankfully, my dog barked at me and tore me away from that self-sabotaging trance. I looked down at her and she was just looking up at me with her happy eyes and wagging tail, and it might sound funny, but in that moment, she gave me peace and comfort. It almost felt like she was telling me that I was doing the right thing—just pick up the brush and start!
The moment I sat down on my stool, grabbed the palette and the brush, and looked at the blank canvas, I felt like I had just glued myself together.
I was home.
And I started to paint.
A Breathing Space
When was the last time you took time for yourself? Or, when did you last enjoy yourself? If you’re unable to answer these questions then that means, my dearest friend, that you’re either burnt out or have most likely forgotten to just take a break from the corporate hamster wheel. Don’t feel bad! Most of us get swept up (quicker) in it and genuinely forget to take a moment to relax, replenish, and to appreciate life, much like the story shared above.
For those of you who are playing hard to get and don’t understand what I’m referring to—I’m talking about hobbies! Life cannot be all about work, work, work; and although I praise those of you who prefer it that way (much respect, sincerely!), I believe that most of us rather have a balanced, healthy life and hobbies factor into it.
We could describe a hobby as a pursuit outside of one’s regular occupation. Its purpose is to help us let go of hardships and to release stress-behaviors This can look very different for everybody; it would depend on personal preferences and passions.
Hobbies offer substantial benefits! Kettering Global, which is an online-branch extension from Kettering University—a national leader in experiential STEM (science, technology, engineering and math)—explains that there are different types (or laterals) of hobbies. To name a few (2019):
- physical—by increasing our heart rate and brain function (like camping, running, yoga, kickboxing…)
- mental and emotional—by taking our mind off pressing matters, we’re able to decompress from the daily stress and are able to reclaim control (like gardening, beekeeping, painting, cooking…)
- social and interpersonal—by being social we expose ourselves to create new bonds which could add support to our life (like exploring new restaurants, joining a book club, taking a pottery class, going to a show…)
- creativity—by tapping into this part of our brain, we wake up the creativity within us and instantly feel lighter (like fiction writing, calligraphy, knitting, candle making…)
- self-improvement—by allowing ourselves to improve on our self-esteem and quality of life (like traveling alone, meditating, volunteering, journaling…)
Having hobbies is as healthy as it gets without (or before) steering into pill-popping, drinking, smoking, and other self-destructive activities. Some benefits include improved overall well-being and relationships, and reduced stress levels.
Time to Value Our Well-Being
We’ve already talked about how important it is to carve out time for activities we enjoy, as it’s a way to improve our mental health and overall emotional well-being. Now, if you’re currently thinking, “How do I even get started? How do I even make time?”—don’t fret.
Instead of taking time out every day, it’s best to think long-term: to find gaps in our schedule to fill. There’s increasing research that supports taking multiple small breaks during work to improve productivity. Some activities where we could indulge in could be such as writing, reading or listening to a favorite podcast or audiobook during these breaks. Many times, while we work or scroll mindlessly through social media or television, we lose the sense of time without noticing. It’s vital to understand what’s taking up most of our time and whether it can be utilized to do things that we truly enjoy doing (S.R., 2022).I bring amazing recommendations about how we can go about dividing our time and find moments for ourselves (and for our hobbies). Today, we’ll be considering five of the following questions to narrow down a potential hobby (Global Kettering, 2019):
I bring amazing recommendations about how we can go about dividing our time and find moments for ourselves, for our hobbies. Today, we’ll be considering five of the following questions to narrow down a potential hobby (Global Kettering, 2019):
- Prefer to do things alone or with others?
- Getting enough physical activity in the day-to-day?
- Would you like your hobby to challenge or change you?
- With what types of people would you like to interact?
- Is there something specifically you enjoyed doing in your childhood that you’d consider revisiting? (This one sounds like the approach the painter used when she shared her story above.)
My dear reader, in case you haven’t understood yet—it’s crucial to have hobbies! It’s a pathway that allows us to do something for the mere enjoyment of it, and by handpicking what we’d specifically like to do in our personal time, we feel empowered by finding purpose and freedom in it.
My dear reader, in case you haven’t understood yet—it’s crucial to have hobbies! It’s a pathway that allows us to do something for the mere enjoyment of it, and by handpicking what we’d specifically like to do in our personal time, we feel empowered by finding purpose and freedom in it. Another stupendous aspect of hobbies is its grand potential to build new relationships; it can be a little harder for introverts, but one of the best ways to make new friends is by connecting with people with similar interests. Most of us have very busy lives and having a hobby doesn’t mean needing to practice it on a daily basis–it’s meant to make a conscious effort to become involved in a long-term commitment to at least one (Ru, 2022).
A Creative Outlet
Is it possible to imagine someone who can write creatively without making a conscious effort? Creative writing as a hobby is (one of) the most popular because of the benefits it provides and the pleasure it brings by developing imagination, creativity, and language skills (Abbas, 2022).
Creative writing elevates the way we speak and the mind other than the writing: It allows the imagination to run wild, allowing a heightened sense of happiness and freedom. For a musician, it’d most likely be to write songs, and for a storyteller, it’d be to write poetry or short stories. To write is to escape the real world and make sense of it. By writing and expressing our thoughts, we’re handling our mental health too.
Writing as a hobby doesn’t come with any added pressure because we’re free to work at our own pace. Self-expression has no rules. Other than a lover of words, Natasha Ferguson is a UK-based screenwriter and script editor, who will guide us with helpful tips to take on writing as a hobby (2023):
- set up a free-of-distractions comfortable writing space (find a perfect that makes sense and set a routine)
- read fiercely (reading and writing go hand in hand, we won’t get one without the other)
- try different mediums (a short story, a haiku, a screenplay, journaling, blogging, etc.)
- join a writing group (to hold ourselves accountable, to receive feedback and to engage with others of similar interests)
- just start writing (no more excuses)
To top it off this lovely sundae, Ferguson also confirms that through writing, we’re not just expressing our thoughts and ideas, we’re also organizing them. In doing so, we’re able to (try to) picture the world or a situation through a different lens.
We must look at our writing time as personal; it’s a time when we get to de-stress and wind down. Engaging in hobbies can serve as healthy, mental escapes and it’s greatly encouraged to practice it, especially during such a demanding socioeconomic time, like the ones we face today. Hobbies can be great ways to disconnect and break away from the monotony of our daily hectic schedules.
If you are interested in dedicating some time and energy to a hobby but don’t particularly have one yet, consider the things you enjoy or love, things that interest you. Or, you could dare to do something challenging and conquer a fear, like for example bungee-jumping! Another idea would be to perhaps tackle one thing you’d like to improve about yourself. The world is your oyster.
If you’d like to practice journaling as a hobby, know that you’d be doing something good for your mind and body. Use this opportunity to share how you’re feeling: Are you tired from the exhausting daily routines? What hobby first came to mind when you started reading this article today? Journal with The Love Story by clicking the link below.
Abbas, A. (2022, August 10). Why choose creative writing as a hobby? EDU Input. https://eduinput.com/why-choose-creative-writing-as-a-hobby/#:~:text=You%20will%20develop%20your%20imagination,most%20creative%20ideas%20and%20thoughts.
Ferguson, N. (2023, May 12). Writing as a hobby: Tips and advice for beginners. Celtxblog. https://blog.celtx.com/start-writing-as-a-hobby/#:~:text=Writing%20can%20be%20a%20great,something%20you%20can%20do%20too!
Kettering Global Team. (2019, April 15). Why hobbies are important? Kettering Global, Kettering University. https://online.kettering.edu/news/2019/04/15/why-hobbies-are-important
Merriam-Webster. (n.d.). Hobby. In Merriam-Webster.com dictionary. Retrieved June 14, 2023, from https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/hobby
S. R., V. (2022, May 23). Health benefits of hobbies. WebMD. https://www.webmd.com/balance/health-benefits-of-hobbies#:~:text=One%20of%20the%20main%20reasons,by%20as%20much%20as%2050%25.
Wu, R. (2022, October 10). 6 Reasons why having a hobby is important. Maniology. https://maniology.com/blogs/maniology-blog/why-are-hobbies-important