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Are Hobbies Important And How Can They Make You Happy?

I don’t know about you, but I’m tired of the usual self-care advice that I see time and time again, site after site, with the same list of self-care ideas where the majority of recommendations just don’t interest me. I don’t want to go for a walk as my back is always hurting and I don’t enjoy reading due to my dyslexia, you get the idea. Thus, I’ve been trying to come up with a better alternative to the usual self-care advice. Even though life is stressful, unfortunately, there are ways you can manage that stress, such as rebalancing your work/life balance through the use of hobbies and interests. Therefore, ditch the usual self-care ideas for hobbies instead if you want to better look after your mental wellbeing.

 

 

Why Are Hobbies Important?

 

Binging TV shows isn’t a hobby, nor is it great for your mental wellbeing either, because it’s passive and lacks engagement. Don’t get me wrong, they’re a great way to kill time and can be a source of entertainment, but it doesn’t offer you the psychological rewards that we need for good mental health. What makes having hobbies different is the level of engagement you have to put. It’s these increased levels of engagement that is good for us and our wellbeing.

 

Hobbies are things you can become passionate about, that will drive your interest in them even when you’re not engaging in them, and yes, this could include walking if walking is something you really enjoy.

 

At the moment there is a quiet revolution going that is leading doctors, psychiatrists, therapists, and social workers to prescribe hobbies as a form of social prescribing to supplement patients existing care plans, not replacing them (Fancourt, Opher, and de Oliveira, 2020). Those that use social prescribing as a replacement don’t understand mental health very well, as that kind of prescribing would only be useful for nonclinical mental health concerns. An important part of determining the social prescription of hobbies would also depend on a client’s willingness to engage in taking up some sort of hobby. There is no point prescribing someone to go find a hobby if they have zero motivation to do so, and trying could cause the client to disengage from seeking support.

 

A study by Tomioka, Kurumatani, and Hosoi (2016) looked into the hobbies and purposes of life in people over the age of 65 in Japan and found that having hobbies and a purpose increased their life expectancy. Furthermore, they also found that lacking a hobby was more significant than lacking a purpose in regards to functional decline and poorer health. 

 

Do you know what that means? You need to get your grandparents and parents a hobby if you want them to live longer and be happier, and while you’re at it, find yourself some hobbies as well. If you read my article on gaming, then you’ll be aware of grandmas’ who took up gaming as a hobby and who have also started gaming channels on YouTube. So don’t rule out helping them find hobbies simply because you think they might not understand how to use the technology.

 

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The Benefits Of Hobbies

 

The main benefits of having hobbies are that can rediscover your interests and strengths or find new interests and strengths that’ll add passion to your life. As such, this will help with reducing stress, plus you might also make new friends that’ll lead to new social experiences. Oh, and speaking of making new friends, let’s not forget the power of participation that happens with hobbies that require other people, such as dancing and team sports.

 

It’s well established that long working hours lead to poor mental health and depression. That’s why some companies like Amazon have turned to weaponizing mindfulness as a lacklustre way to help employees for a splash of good PR. A study by Li, Dai, Wu, Jia, Gao, and Fu (2019) into the working lives of people in Shanghai found that people working over 60 hours a week had the highest prevalence of poorer mental health compared to those working under 40 hours a week, which isn’t really surprising. However, they also found that having hobbies could mitigate the adverse effects of long hours, although that doesn’t justify making workers work over 40 hours a week.

 

Support for the negative effects of being overworked comes fromPega et al. (2021). Their study found that working over 55 hour work weeks killed more people per year than malaria, finding that between 705,786–784,601 die per year from being overworked in this study condutcted for the World Health Organization (WHO) and International Labour Organization (ILO).

 

The point is, long working hours are bad for our mental health, but so is working a normal work week, then looking after your children, and having to do chores. The remedy to help that is to find hobbies you can enjoy to help reshape that work/life balance. Because no matter how much you work or how big your family is, everyone needs time for personal enjoyment. 

 

Furthermore, it doesn’t matter what age you are when it comes to hobbies, we can all benefit from them. Schoolwork, homework, and chores can be draining to young people too. Thus, it can also be important for children, teens, and young adults to have hobbies because it can have implications for psychosocial adjustment. 

 

A study by Steinberg and Simon (2019) sort to investigate the effects of hobby participation on girls from disadvantaged neighbourhoods and from families with low resources. They found that engagement with hobbies helped peer functioning by allowing them to form intimate and egalitarian friendships with their peers.

 

The picture is split in two with the top image being of an Asian man making pottery on a potters wheel and the bottom image being of a black woman canoeing down a river. The two images are separated by the article title - Are Hobbies Important And How Can They Make You Happy?

 

Types Of Hobbies

 

Hobbies come in all shapes and sizes, from creative, physical, relaxation, and even academic. I often like learning for the sake of learning and prefer researching my articles and past coursework more than anything else, especially the write-up and editing. Thus, you could say my main hobby is blogging. Because there is such a variety in the types of hobbies you could have, there are lots of places you can look to find them.

 

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How To Find A Hobby

 

Finding a hobby can be tricky. Long hours at work, family obligations, and a lack of inspiration and motivation can seem like impossible obstacles. However, here are my favourite strategies you could use during a lunch or toilet break:

 

  • Check out community boards.
  • Flick through your local newspapers.
  • Check out your local community centre.
  • Visit platforms like Meetup and join groups that have activities that interest you.
  • Get a prospectus for your local adult education college and sample some classes.

 

Your first port of call might be to revive old passions. You could also look to join some adult education classes, like cooking, dancing, or photography. The great thing about using an adult education college is that you could do a taste test of different activities each week until you find something or several somethings you enjoy.

 

Furthermore, you’ll often see posters at your community centre, religious organisations, libraries, mini-marts, and supermarkets about groups activities. If exercising based hobbies are where your interest lie, then checking out your local gyms for classes could also bear hobby-based fruit. My point is, anything can become a hobby if you’re able to actively engage with it rather than just passively experiencing it, so there are a whole host of places you can look for them. 

 

As always, leave your feedback in the comments section below. Also, feel free to share your experiences… in the comments section below as well. Don’t forget to bookmark my site and if you want to stay up-to-date with my blog, then sign up for my newsletter below. Alternatively, get push notifications of new articles by clicking the red bell icon in the bottom right corner.

 

Lastly, if you’d like to support my blog, then you can make a donation of any size below as well. Until next time, Unwanted Life readers.

 

 

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References

 

Fancourt, D., Opher, S., & de Oliveira, C. (2020). Fixed-Effects Analyses of Time-Varying Associations between Hobbies and Depression in a Longitudinal Cohort Study: Support for Social Prescribing?. Psychotherapy and Psychosomatics89(2), 111-113. Retrieved from https://doi.org/10.1159/000503571 and https://www.karger.com/Article/PDF/503571.

Li, Z., Dai, J., Wu, N., Jia, Y., Gao, J., & Fu, H. (2019). Effect of long working hours on depression and mental well-being among employees in Shanghai: the role of having leisure hobbies. International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health16(24), 4980. Retrieved from https://www.mdpi.com/1660-4601/16/24/4980/htm and https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph16244980.

Pega, F., Náfrádi, B., Momen, N. C., Ujita, Y., Streicher, K. N., Prüss-Üstün, A. M., Technical Advisory Group, Descatha, A., Driscoll, T., Fischer, F. M., Godderis, L., Kiiver, H. M., Li, J., Magnusson Hanson, L. L., Rugulies, R., Sørensen, K. & Woodruff, T. J. (2021). Global, regional, and national burdens of ischemic heart disease and stroke attributable to exposure to long working hours for 194 countries, 2000–2016: A systematic analysis from the WHO/ILO Joint Estimates of the Work-related Burden of Disease and Injury. Environment International, 106595. Retrieved from https://doi.org/10.1016/j.envint.2021.106595, https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0160412021002208, and https://www.who.int/news-room/q-a-detail/global-regional-and-national-burdens-of-ischemic-heart-disease-and-stroke-attributable-to-exposure-to-long-working-hours-for-194-countries-2000-2016.

Steinberg, D. B., & Simon, V. A. (2019). A comparison of hobbies and organized activities among low income urban adolescents. Journal of Child and Family Studies28(5), 1182-1195. Retrieved from https://dx.doi.org/10.1007%2Fs10826-019-01365-0 and https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6934368.

Tomioka, K., Kurumatani, N., & Hosoi, H. (2016). Relationship of having hobbies and a purpose in life with mortality, activities of daily living, and instrumental activities of daily living among community-dwelling elderly adults. Journal of Epidemiology26(7), 361-370. Retrieved from https://doi.org/10.2188/jea.JE20150153 and https://www.jstage.jst.go.jp/article/jea/26/7/26_JE20150153/_pdf.

57 thoughts on “Are Hobbies Important And How Can They Make You Happy?

  1. For me, my hobbies are a huge part of my happiness. My blog is my biggest hobby and it takes up a lot of my time. It’s a labour of love but I don’t know who I would be without it now. I needed my blog more than it needed me for a long time. I needed a hobby that was creative with lots of learning to help me grow and go through hard parts of my life

    Rosie

    https://www.loverosiee.co.uk

  2. Loved reading this! I completely agree that hobbies can relieve stress and didn’t actually know that they also increased life expectancy! I think hobbies should be prioritised as an aspect of everyday for all the benefits they have and what is great about them is that they are so versatile and diverse.

  3. Super on point on the first paragraph after the introduction! So true, I definitely agree. Binging TV shows isn’t a real hobby; it’s just a dull way of killing time and you end up unlikely learning anything new. Hobbies should urge you to do something that leads you to self-discovery and development. I consider blogging as a hobby too (and maybe someday more than that). Really enjoyed this, so insightful! Thanks for sharing!

    http://www.lifebeginsattwenty.com

    • Self-discovery and development are nice, but that doesn’t have to be a factor in a hobby, what’s important is the pleasure and the passion you get from doing them, anything else is just a bonus

  4. Great post! Hobbies can be so important, especially at the moment when it’s important that we keep ourselves busy. Thank you for sharing these ideas, I didn’t realise there were so many positives!

  5. I agree 100% that hobbies are so important to a balanced and happy life. We aren’t all lucky enough to have a job that we love, but we can all find a hobby that we’re passionate about. My problem is my job gets in the way of all the hobbies I want to pursue. LOL

    • I agree 100 percent. I’m not sure how I could function without making time for my hobbies. My top hobby is running. I love that it is simple and requires almost no specialized equipment, just a decent pair of shoes and a road. I love the emotional boost it usually provides and the mental clarity I get from some alone time running trails.

  6. I completely agree, I think that hobbies can play a vital role in our well-being. And I can imagine that their importance continues into retirement – sure, the stresses of work have gone but you still need something that will provide some mental and social stimulation. I look forward to the time when the only difficulty is in fitting in all of the hobbies 🙂

  7. I think hobbies are more important than a lot of people realize. I used a long period of unemployment to teach myself how to sew. I hardly ever get to do it anymore, but it really helped me adjust my mindset at the time. I felt so worthless when I was out of work, until some friends started commissioning me to make things for them, and I realized I could work for myself if I had to. It made me feel like I had value again. My main hobby now is probably my blog, but I think it’s important for everyone to have something outside of work that makes their life feel worthwhile.

  8. I totally agree. As for me, blogging is my past time hobby. With it, I get to interact with other people across countries virtually and it helps me a lot mentally :))

  9. Thanks for the suggestions on finding hobbies! I have a ton but I am always looking for more

  10. My hobbies have certainly helped me recently, especially as I have now started doing them again. This reminds me that I should encourage my husband to find some as I think he would benefit from them so much. Thanks for sharing!

  11. Hobbies are very important. My problem is when I don’t utilize them properly. I’ll wait until I’m totally burned out before I will turn to one of my hobbies. Sadly, I never get to them because I’m too exhausted to do anything apart from sleep.

  12. Hobbies are a huge part of my happiness. They remind me that I’m my own person outside of being a mum. Blogging has been my greatest, most longstanding hobby. It’s something that I have purely for myself that I’ve built up from nothing and gives me so much pride. I don’t know what I’d do without this online space and community.

    Claire.X
    http://www.clairemac.co.uk

  13. Thank you for sharing this information about active leisure to improve mental well-being. I believe that everyone can find something to their liking because you don’t propose ready-made solutions, but rather possible solutions and ultimately it’s up to each person to choose the activity that interests them. I didn’t know about Meetup and I went to check it out. It’s really interesting and I will definitely use it. Thank you for introducing me to it.

  14. I love your take on hobbies as a form of self-care, and feel you on feeling like you are reading the same thing over and over again on different sites. I <3 it when I find a person who is sharing their unique form of self-care because self-care is diverse. I approach it as a practice that can be whatever I need it to be.

    Meetup is a great platform for finding like-minded people! I also enjoy joining relevant Facebook groups, though my hobbies all center around writing in some form or another. 🙂
    Thanks for sharing!

  15. Hobbies are a great way to keep your mind fresh and even learn new things. I know my dad recently restarted painting after not doing so for maybe 30 years. It’s really helped him stay busy in retirement. I think a hobby is great for maintaining your mental health.

  16. I agree. Hobbies are super important. I have colleagues that only seem to work and never switch off.

  17. Love this topic! I have recently started thrift shopping and reselling as a hobby and have found such joy in doing so! It gives me something to look forward to and focus on that is just for me. It’s been an incredible way to reduce stress in my life 😀

  18. I personally love having hobbies in my life. My own blog first started as a hobby and it’s brings me much joy blogging. I love the idea of having something else I do in my life.

  19. Great post! I completely agree with you on everything you said about how hobbies help mental health and life expectancy and give us a purpose. Yes working the right number of hours helps but we also need hobbies and a purpose outside of work. It is crucial. It is one reason I keep pushing my friends to try new hobbies and find new passions.

  20. I am actually really glad that you spoke on this topic. I agree with you 100% I believe hobbies give out lives more meaning. As a kid I had a bunch of hobbies and when I moved to another school those same activities weren’t available. I started getting in to trouble and I was very depressed, it lasted for years . I didn’t really know why I felt this way. I guess I was depressed for so long I just started taping back into my hobbies and I swore it was the best thing I ever did. I am even at the point now where I make it clear to my job that I will not overwork myself because I need time to do what I love. My hobbies allow me to be free and it gives me something to look forward to every day. I just thought it was a personal thing , but reading this showed me how important it is , which is amazing.

  21. This is a powerful post. I started my family when I was 18 so I never really made time for any hobbies for myself. Now that my children are all grown, I’ve been able to spend my free time doing whatever I want and it’s so much fun! Last weekend I tried rock-climbing. I’m about to find all sorts of new hobbies. Thanks for the encouragement.

  22. Well said. Hobbies are so important. Nowadays with working from home, many of our work life balance got even more blurred than before. We need to cut it off and have leisure time. I forgot the word hobby for a long time. But labeling something as a hobby makes it sound more fun. My thing is exercising for sure! Thanks for sharing!

    • It can be difficult to maintain a normal 9-5 work ethic so you can have personal time for other things. It’s really easy to just get up late and have longer breaks when working at home, which then just results in you working later than you otherwise would

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