Being able to occupy yourself during your downtime can be fantastic for your mental well-being. There’s a wealth of research and anecdotal data linking hobbies to a reduction in stress, increased feelings of self-esteem, and a raft of other benefits. In the modern era, we have a considerable advantage here: those who take up a hobby have access to an unprecedented wealth of education resources, thanks to online courses and supportive communities who can correct common mistakes and provide motivation during spells of inactivity.
Engaging in an enjoyable activity can help to bust stress. This is especially so for those who are suffering from anxiety. When your entire attention is focussed on doing a particular task well, you’ll find yourself unable to worry about whether you left the door unlocked, or whether that rumble in your stomach is actually the start of food poisoning.
Of course, getting into ‘the zone’ might be difficult to do with any consistency. You’re looking for an activity that you enjoy, and which is just difficult enough to keep you engaged, without being so difficult that you give up. Psychologists call this a ‘flow state’, and it’s something that everyone’s experienced, and everyone loves!
The human brain has adapted to seek out novelty. That’s partly why the endless churn of social media is so adept at grabbing our attention and never letting go – we’re constantly scrolling in search of something new.
While there is a dark side of this, novelty can be a good thing. And it’s easier than ever to find it. The internet allows you to try things that you might never before have considered. There are entire communities dedicated to whittling, carpentry and blacksmithing – or, if you’re more into numbers, you might consider looking into forex or even simpler things such as sudoku.
If you’re connecting with other people who are trying out the same thing as you, and butting up against the same challenges, then you’ll have a natural social benefit. If you’re running every weekend, then meeting up with others will allow you to do so while enjoying a chat. Sometimes, you’ll be able to share tips on how to improve your performance. If you’re taking a life-drawing class, then your fellow students might point out that you do eyes well, but your noses need more attention. If you’re the sort of person who thrives on praise, this can be invaluable.
Hobbies help us, whether it’s mentally or physically. Have a look around and see which hobbies you could be interested in and try put time aside to practice and enjoy!