As a child, we have always been motivated, promoted and even appreciated for taking up hobby classes. We proudly shared our experiences and hidden flair with people. But then, adulthood happened and somewhere that motivation and zest just faded away.
But today they have made a comeback and how. Isn’t it really interesting how suddenly hobbies have re-achieved cult status, especially after the imposition of the COVID-19 lockdown? From baking to gardening to taking up online courses to equip ourselves better for life, pursuing dormant hobbies and skills became a trend. It’s what has kept many people sane during such a strong crisis.
So, let’s decode what hobbies are…
A hobby is a form of activity that we do when we are not working on our official roles, that provides us relief, while simultaneously making us feel productive. The rewards of having hobbies are countless and always serve us, irrespective of what phase of life we are at by tapping various elements of our psychological well-being.
What is not a hobby…
We cannot account for passive activities like binge-watching web shows, Instagram reels, YouTube videos or mindlessly scrolling through social media, as hobbies. While watching them might help to de-stress for a while and make you lose a sense of time, there has to be something that not only occupies but stimulates our senses as well, thus allowing us to truly de-stress.
Benefits of engaging in hobbies…
- Engaging in hobbies that we love always makes us feel happy and good about ourselves. It brings in a certain level of excitement and novelty in our life.
- When we learn a new skill or hobby, we slowly learn and try to develop our competence in it. Our expertise or knowledge in it is what gives our personality an edge or uniqueness.
- We all have days when we feel low, stressed and upset about things at work or home. It is our hobbies that help us unwind, relax or in some cases, even forget we had a rough day.
- The routine of day-to-day life can tire us at some point. Having hobbies helps us spend time in a productive manner, instead of engaging in unhealthy habits to kill boredom.
- The good thing about learning something new is that we naturally get to interact with people of similar interests. It not only helps us build a social circle but also fine-tunes our social skills.
In the long run, hobbies come to the rescue especially during the midlife period when houses become empty nests. Couples are left on their own with not much to do when the children move away from their nest in search of opportunities (education or work). Many people have said that “involving themselves in activities they loved doing bought a sense of purpose and happiness back into their lives.”
But where do I have the time for this?
Well, it’s true most of us are leading frantic lives with work and house duties keeping us on our toes. People often complain how their hectic and busy lifestyle makes it difficult for them to devote time to themselves, let alone spare time for hobbies.
The solution lies in getting a picture of how we spend our time, especially our free time. We are often not mindful of how we navigate through our free hours. To get a better insight on this, one can maintain a time log for a week to keep track of what activities take in the most time. Understanding where and how we spend our free time helps us to chalk out a schedule that includes time for hobbies. Even taking out half an hour for it is absolutely fine.
How do we develop hobbies?
This is one question that I’m asked often, especially by people who are trying to bring a change in their lives. The bias and pre-conceived notions about certain activities (for example I’m too old to try this or it’s too boring) can leave us hesitant and more confused. However, the answer to this can be found in the following ways:
- Try the old hit-n-trial route. Randomly try on some new activities or join that class in the neighborhood for pottery/cooking/ dancing or online groups for a month and see how you feel about it.
- Head back to childhood to think about the activities that generated interest in you and genuinely you enjoyed doing them. It could be anything from a sports activity to music to art to reading or writing.
- Look for that ‘incomplete project’ of yours: the thing you’ve started and then completely pushed to the backburner. Often that could be a good starting point to see if it still works out for you.
- Go for that one thing that always piqued your interest and wanted to learn more. It could be learning a new art form or joining classes on studying constellations or graphology or photography or hiking.
- Sometimes it helps to look into nature or our immediate environment (friends and acquaintances at work or society) for some inspiration and understanding about what could possibly work for us.
We are all caught up with carrying out our roles and responsibilities towards family and work, that we often forget to do something for the most important person in our lives: ourselves! So today, go ahead with an open mind and heart and just take time out to do something that you really enjoy.
Your future self is going to thank you for it…
Priyanka Bantwal (enrichyourmind.in) is a Psychologist and Researcher. She specializes in elderly well-being, perinatal mental health, anxiety, depression, anger and stress management. An avid writer, she has been writing blogs and articles as a medium of generating mental health awareness and psycho-educating people.