As a kid, we all had hobbies. Whether it was doing an arts and crafts project with our friend or playing some sort of sport, it was almost a requirement to have some sort of non school related activity. When I was younger, I always assumed it was just a way to keep us kids busy and to burn off all that extra energy while our parents had a break. As adults, we are rarely encouraged to be silly, creative, or active on a regular basis. When life gets complicated and filled with obligations and time constraints, it's easy to fall into a rut and feel like you need a break.
More often that not, I feel like my work week is just the same routine over and over, and weekends are mainly reserved for running errands OR just relaxing and having downtime. If you can relate, I'd recommend considering trying out a hobby. To be perfectly honest, when I first started searching out a hobby I had no idea where to start. I felt like I didn't quite know what I liked to do, as ridiculous as that may seem. I read a book entitled, "The Happiness Project" and there is an entire section devoted to developing adult hobbies. The author speculated that a good starting place to find an adult hobby is to think back to when you were a child - odds are, you will still enjoy doing similar things. For me, this was arts & crafts and sports. I started taking tennis lessons and learned how to knit. Knitting is probably not the most useful hobby in Florida, but luckily I have relatives that live in cold climates that hopefully will appreciate my thick socks and hats. And knitting does wonders for stress - research shows that it puts your brain in a similar peaceful state as meditation or yoga.
There are numerous benefits to having a hobby. By adding hobby into your normal routine you are actually getting all the benefits of giving your brain a "break". In today's nonstop world, we are forced to juggle many things at once - a combination of careers, family life, parenting, relationships, social life, finances, and so much more. Social media and smart phones have brought multitasking to a new level. There are rare situations where we are only doing one thing at once and its exhausting. The beauty of a hobby, whether it be playing soccer on a rec team, taking a painting class after work, or joining a book club, is that you are limiting yourself to ONE activity. By using your brain in a generative and focused way, our brain gets a neural reboot resulting in the desired "recharged" feeling.
Another great added benefit of a hobby, is it boosts our creative thinking. Isn't it amazing that when we are doing something that is low pressure and low stress, running into a roadblock isn't such a huge deal? But when we are at work, running into an issue that we didn't expect can actually be a nightmare. Hobbies allow us to practice flexible and creative thinking in a fun environment and these skills translate into our professional environments. By consistently practicing how to effectively handle challenges that we were not expecting in a creative way, it trains our brain for all future situations.
For me, I love the social aspect of having a hobby. Being at work all day you are surrounded by people, but do you really fill that social void? Usually no. Hobbies allow you to control the type of social interaction you participate in. Depending on your day and mood, you can choose to be as outgoing as you'd like by being in the presence of other people who share a non work interest. Having social interactions that are not work based, or even home life based, allows you to fill a social void and give that sense of participating in the world. It provides a fun social outlet where you can just be yourself.
If you are feeling burned out or in a rut, start brainstorming about a way to add a fulfilling hobby to your life. Google is a great place to start - there are a million ideas out there. Or, give us a call! We're happy to discuss how our mental health services can help. (813) 340-6955.