Hobbies include the activities people do for fun or relaxation. Everyone needs an escape from their usual daily occupation, work or boredom. Hobbies fill this space. They range from sport and exercise, craft, art and puzzles to developing new skills in any field that interests us. A hobby or two or more provide the changes in pace and satisfaction we all need to live fulfilled lives.
I got thinking about this when a king cold virus flattened me recently. It took another two weeks before I recovered fully. Some of my favourite hobbies, like swimming, walking and socialising with friends and family, for example, became impossible. I didn’t write a blog post.
I slept a lot and read a couple of good books but by the second week became bored and stressed. Time to turn to other hobbies like the Boro bag I started a while ago and the shawl I’m crocheting. Here’s a link to my post about craft and the joy of making things. While I knew hobbies were good for me, I hadn’t thought why.
Some of the benefits of hobbies
Anything we do that makes us feel better about ourselves also benefits our mental and often our physical health. Here are some of the benefits of hobbies.
- Hobbies help us relax. Lower stress levels promote better health. Relaxation lowers heart rate and blood pressure as well as muscle tension. It can reduce anger and even chronic pain.
- Hobbies which include physical activity create chemical changes in our bodies that further reduce stress.
- Doing an activity we enjoy distracts us from our work and worries as we become absorbed in something we like doing. We unwind.
- Finding a hobby you enjoy leads to increased skills. As we learn about a subject and practise new skills, our abilities increase in all areas of our lives.
- As we become better at what we do, our confidence increases. Although it might take a while to excel at a new pastime, the learning journey can be rewarding. This also helps our confidence.
- Research tells us that, ‘People with hobbies are less likely to suffer from stress, low mood and depression.’ Read more about this on Lifeline 24.
- Enjoying a hobby for a few hours each week can reduce the risk of anxiety and depression, and maybe also, dementia. Health authorities urge older people to keep their minds active with puzzles, learning a new skill, making music and keeping active.
- Hobbies which include mixing with other people prevent loneliness and isolation, major factors in mental illness. Authorities tell us loneliness could be the next big health threat, especially for seniors.
Improved social life
- Team sports, craft groups, book clubs, singing in a choir… the list of possible shared hobbies goes on. When people share a hobby, their lives become richer and everything becomes easier.
- Being interested and involved in any hobby gives us something different to talk about with our friends and acquaintances.
- Creative hobbies increase personal creativity, not simply in the focus area but across the whole of life.
- Creative activities and new skills help neural connections in the brain to expand and also to the release ‘feel-good’ hormones.
New pastimes at any age
We are never too old or too frail to begin a new pastime and there are hundreds to choose from. The rewards are enormous. If you do not already have a satisfying hobby, what are you waiting for?