Why are they good for your health?
While most of us know what hobbies are, and we probably had one at one point, many of us don’t have one any more. This isn’t good because having a hobby can provide significant number of health benefits. What are they? What has brought about this change? How do we get back to including hobbies as part of our lives?
Hobbies are something that people do for fun in their free time. They can include a wide range of activities depending on what interests you, such as gardening, photography, bowling, golf, rock climbing, running or playing a musical instrument. Whatever it is, it allows you time to have a creative outlet and do something for yourself. When you have a hobby, not only do you get enjoyment out of it, but you also get a variety of health benefits.
One of the best benefits that hobbies is stress relief. A hobby lets you to take a break from your everyday life while still feeling like you have a sense of purpose. This type of break allows you to relax and refocus your energy. With life being so hectic, this break helps to provide a balance. Also, when you are doing something that you enjoy, just for the sake of enjoyment, you are more likely to stay present and focus solely on what you are doing. This calms your nerves because it gives you permission to temporarily let go of everything that is causing you stress. Often times, when you come back to the stressors, they don’t seem as insurmountable as they did before.
A side benefit of the decreased amount of stress is that it lowers blood pressure and cortisol levels. Unfortunately, many of us are less physically active than we used to be because we have jobs that require us to sit at a desk all day long and when we go home, we sit on the couch watching television or zone out on some sort of electronic device. This decrease in activity is partly to blame as to why so many of us are overweight. The good news is that many hobbies include some level of physical activity. As long as you don’t overdo it and end up injured, this increased level of movement can improve your physical health. Even if the hobby you choose is as physically demanding as some others, you are still more likely to be active than if you don’t have a hobby.
When you take up a hobby, it is usually something that you are interested in doing, but as with learning anything new, it can be challenging. This is essential to improving your brain function. These types of challenges help to keep your brain mentally sharp. Also, they come without the negative emotions that are often tied to when challenges we face at work. Since we aren’t fearing failure and how that might impact our lives, as we might with a work-related challenge, we are more likely try new things and take more risks. The good news is that when you succeed, your self-confidence grows and this actually spills over into the rest of your life. Besides risk taking, hobbies typically involve problem solving, creative thinking, overcoming obstacles, cooperating with others and setting goals. All of these skills are extremely helpful to have when living your daily life, but also can help improve your performance in your job. By taking the time to allow your brain to focus on something other than work and your responsibilities, you are able to return to work refreshed with the ability to focus on tasks at hand more easily and with greater enthusiasm. The more you learn, the more your brain neurons rewire and fire and this helps to boost creativity and keep your brain healthy.
Humans are social creatures and most hobbies involve interacting with other people. Since hobbies help you to form connections with individuals who are interested in the something that you are, these connections can turn into lifelong friendships. Thanks to this increase in social interaction, people usually feel less isolated and depressed. Besides the social interaction, people feel more complete because their self-worth isn’t tied to just their job or one aspect of their life. Since there are so many health benefits to having a hobby, why don’t more people have one?
The main reason that most people claim to not have a hobby is they don’t have enough time. Yes, we are busy, but this lack of time is just a perception. We create the impression of busyness by regularly wasting time. By saying that we are too busy to do something, we make ourselves feel important. However, by thinking of it this way, we are doing ourselves a disservice. How often do you have some time before you need to do something or be somewhere? What do you with that time? Or, you plan on doing something, but end up getting caught up in watching something on television or browsing things on the internet and before you know it, several hours have passed. Every once in a while, it is important to take time to just chill, but this has become our go to thing to do. Instead, what if you read a book, worked on a puzzle, learned a song on an instrument or tried a new sport. You would be surprised at how much more fulfilled you would feel and how much time you actually have. By having a hobby, you actually get better at structuring your time because you become more efficient at managing it. This means you spend less time wasted on things that aren’t important, like social media and forms of entertainment that aren’t as good for you physically and mentally. The other component of this lack of time concept is that we feel guilty taking the time to do something for ourselves when we perceive that there are more “important” things we should be doing. By having a hobby, especially if it entails you having to show up somewhere and participate, you are making a commitment and this makes it easier for you to give yourself permission to take that break that you need and to have fun.
A hobby can be anything that you can think of. The best thing to gain from having one is the enrichment your mind receives by facing new challenges and learning something new. Also, they allow you to destress and find more fulfillment in life. If you don’t have a hobby, your life becomes boring, repetitive and unhealthy. Remember, your personal growth and potential are only limited if you stop learning. We need hobbies to maintain and increase our mental, social, emotional, physical and spiritual capabilities. So, what is your hobby going to be?