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.
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 from Pega 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 conducted 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.
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.
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 of trying out hobbies 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 for new articles by clicking the red bell icon in the bottom right corner.
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Unwanted Life readers.
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 Psychosomatics, 89(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 Health, 16(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 Studies, 28(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 Epidemiology, 26(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.