Ever think to yourself: “what do I actually do for fun?”. Well, you’re not alone. In this age of 24-7 hustle culture and the allure of a never-ending Instagram feed, it’s becoming less common for adults to have a dedicated hobby that they practice regularly. For many of us, our lives revolve around work, raising a family, and just trying to hold it all together. So, it’s easy to see how we can lose track of what we genuinely like to do and make time for it.
One of the things that can get in the way of us practicing hobbies is when we’re facing mental health struggles. The feelings of despair and hopelessness that come with anxiety and depression can leave us with little to no desire for hobbies. But that’s when hobbies are really needed. In fact, hobbies help us maintain our mental health for many reasons – here are some of them:
- Stress relief. Hobbies allow us to have dedicated time away from work and regular responsibilities. If you’re someone who feels overwhelmed by your ‘to-do’ list on a daily basis, then switching off by doing something you enjoy will be especially beneficial.
- Mindfulness. When was the last time you did something that made the time flow, and the worries from your day seemingly evaporate? Hobbies that take us out of our mind and into our bodies and surroundings are great for improving mindfulness.
- Hobbies break up mundanity. If you’re feeling stuck in a rut (yes, boredom can cause stress too!), hobbies can introduce a new sense of fun and meaning to your normal routine, which is a crucial facet of our wellbeing.
- Hobbies help to alleviate loneliness. If you’re craving a new social circle and a change of scene, hobbies are a great way to connect with like-minded people and provide a sense of social support.
So, now that you’re sold on the whole ‘hobby’ thing… Ask yourself these questions to figure out which hobbies to try:
- What hobbies did you enjoy as a child? A good starting point for exploring new hobbies is to think back to childhood. What were your favorite things to do back then? Consider revisiting them to see if you still enjoy them. That said, people do change; so there’s also a chance your hobbies from childhood won’t interest you now. It’s important to check in with yourself to recognize the change and growth you’re experiencing.
- How do you spend your time now? Think about your daily life now and see if you notice any themes. Keeping a journal is a great way to identify themes. Is there a particular type of TV show, podcast or genre of book you’re into? Could it be transformed into a fully-fledged hobby? For example, if you’ve watched all the stand-up specials on Netflix, an improv class might be worth a try. Think about it like this: when you get a few days off work, what things do you always make time for? This might help you narrow down a hobby to explore. For example, if you’re all about keeping your home and family organized, consider a scrapbooking project to archive your family history
- What’s going on in your area? Sites like meetup.com are a great way to find out about local groups and events focused around a specific theme like arts and culture, games or even politics. You could even start your own group to meet like-minded people and explore shared interests. Another website to try is volunteermatch.org, where you can find causes to join that align with your values.
- What are you already good at? Whether it’s cooking, sports or writing; thinking about the things you naturally excel at could help you hone in on the things you’ll thrive in.
- What aren’t you so good at? In contrast to the last point, are there any skillsets that you’d like to improve upon? Yes, hobbies are supposed to be about fun and leisure, but coming out of your comfort zone and becoming better at something over time can be a lot of fun too – it might even be more rewarding. Challenging ourselves can provide a nice confidence boost and it also keeps our minds stimulated. Often, the challenges you face doing a hobby don’t leave you feeling drained or frustrated like those you might have experienced at work or in family life.
After doing some self-reflection, you’ve probably come up with some hobbies you’d like to pursue. Here are some tips for getting started:
- Bring a friend. No-one said you have to seek out solo hobbies! Having a friend in tow might help you to get comfortable trying something new and it will also provide a shared bonding experience for the both of you.
- Try a few on for size. You might not find the perfect hobby on your first try – and that’s fine! Commit to sticking out each hobby for a period of time, but if something isn’t the right fit for you, it’s ok to walk away. The important thing is that you don’t call the whole thing off. Go back to the drawing board and try something else.
- Schedule it in. Pursuing a hobby might sound like it’ll take time out of your day that you simply don’t have. Try keeping a planner for your non-work life. It’ll help you prioritize your responsibilities so you can visualize the gaps in your week to be filled with the hobby of your choice. Physically writing down your activities will make you way more likely to follow through, too!
Remember, you’re not less-than for not having a hobby at the moment. When we’re struggling with mental health it’s usually one of the first things to go. Now that you’ve seen the benefits of hobbies on your mental health, and how to go about finding a hobby, you’re at the perfect starting point. Stay open to trying lots of things, and at the very least, you’ll enjoy the journey. Why not document it through journaling so you have something to look back on? Visit Amazon to buy our self-care journals, equipped with planners and journals!