When is the last time you did something for yourself? Whether you are studying or working full time, it becomes harder and harder to set time aside for yourself. Hobbies are just a waste of time…..or are they? Some of us may feel that a hobby is something we do to just pass time and does not have a real purpose in our life. But research shows just the opposite.

A hobby is a regular activity that is done for enjoyment particularly during one’s leisure time. Nevertheless, it is both enjoyable and helps you pass time in a meaningful way. Without a hobby, life may seem boring, more demanding, and may even land you up in an unhealthy cycle of life. All of us have a daily routine to follow but incorporating a hobby within this routine adds excitement and increases our personal satisfaction.

Well, different hobbies offer different benefits:

1) Physical

Some hobbies offer various physiological benefits as it increases the heart rate, increases the brain function, helps in the development of muscle and weight loss. This could be both rewarding and fun.

On the other hand, a relaxing hobby at night can help slow down your heart rate and allows you to fall asleep more easily.

Did you know that craft hobbies like sewing and beading can help improve your memory? This is because such activities have the power to focus your brain and decrease the chances of developing memory loss due to aging.

Examples of other physical hobbies would include swimming, hiking, yoga, and martial arts

2) Mental and Emotional

Hobbies play an important role in mitigating stress. It takes your mind of the pressing concerns of daily life and helps improve your mental health. Our self-esteem tends to rise after we accomplish a task. Hobbies can instill in you a sense of purpose while having fun. The more you devote yourself to a hobby, the more the satisfaction and sense of achievement you get. Plus, it can help improve a person’s sense of identity, usefulness, and eliminate feelings of worthlessness and self-doubt.

Examples of hobbies that are known to improve our mental health and overall emotional wellbeing include listening to music, drawing, painting, cooking, etc.

 3) Social and Interpersonal

Social hobbies are a great way to develop bonds with people who share a similar interest to us. This means we can talk to our heart’s content about our passion with like-minded people. Besides, group activities help us to meet new people, learn new things, and come out of our comfort zone.

Social connection is a key component of happiness and a meaningful life, and hobbies have the potential to create such connections. When you engage with people having different passions, it develops a sense of curiosity in you and you feel very much inspired. Volunteering is a great way to meet new people and get involved with a cause.

4) Creativity

Hobbies can encourage you to stretch the boundaries of your imagination and take up new challenges to motivate you to learn new things. It stimulates your mind to come up with innovative ideas when faced with an obstacle.

A comprehensive review of the effect of video games on children found that role-playing and strategy-based games improved problem-solving abilities. Board games like chess have several brain-building characteristics which teach you to think in patterns and use previous memories to make decisions. Furthermore, research has shown that the act of playing chess makes people use both sides of their brains, which stimulates more advanced thought processes.

5) Self-improvement 

You never really know what you are capable of unless you try something new. Chances are you would surprise yourself in the process. Learning itself is a hobby. Sign up for a class or an online course. It is one of the most cost-effective and flexible hobbies you can ever have!

Self- confidence is built when you progress with a hobby as it pushes you into a mentality of being able to achieve anything.

In addition, hobbies teach you to be patient with yourself as you learn and grow. Fishing is a good example of a hobby that teaches you patience especially as there would be times when you have to wait for the fish to bite the bait or have to search for a good place to fish.

Hobbies and Eustress

Not all stress is the same. Some of the stress that we face in our lives can be detrimental to our wellbeing, but some can be healthy for us. Eustress is a kind of positive stress, the kind that makes you happy about what you are doing and about life. For example, getting a promotion at work. Hobbies are one of the greatest ways of accessing that kind of stress.

Licensed professional counsellor Casey Lee, MA states that: “Eustress produces positive feelings of excitement, fulfilment, meaning, satisfaction, and well-being,”. He explains that eustress is good because you feel confident, adequate, and stimulated by the challenge you experience from the stressor. Furthermore, Psychologist Dr Kara Fasone says eustress is all about sufficiently challenging yourself without expending all your resources. This type of stress empowers you to grow emotionally, psychologically, and physically. These benefits correspond with that of hobbies.

Hobbies or Occupation?

Studies have shown a correlation between having a hobby and success in the workplace. Hobbies facilitate the development of work-related traits such as creativity in a project, job satisfaction and provides lesser chances of suffering from a burnout. So, for example, if you ride a skateboard after work, it helps your mind to focus on something specific rather than pondering about what happened in your work. This helps you kickstart the next day with an open mind and to succeed without dwelling in the past.

In fact, questions related to hobbies are one of the common ones that recruiters often ask job candidates.

Mark Zuckerberg, Founder and CEO of Facebook, for instance, stated: “Having a hobby shows a prospective employer that you have the drive and passion”. Fun fact – Facebook started out as a hobby! Well, this shows that certain hobbies can bring in additional income and could even turn into a full-time job or business enterprise.

As you can see, hobbies can pave the way for many more opportunities to come.

Finding a hobby isn’t always easy. But don’t go with the phrase “Maybe, some other day, when I have the time”. You have more time than you think you do. It’s never too late to develop a new interest and there is an endless number of hobbies you can choose from. After all, what is the worst thing that could happen if you try something new?

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