My husband has always been known as the man with many hobbies. Just last year he woke up one morning and mentioned he wanted to learn how to play the ukulele. By 3 pm he had a used one in hand and was taking his first YouTube lesson. A new skill to learn or adventure to pursue has always been intriguing to him.
For years it drove me crazy as our basement and garage became the storage place for the equipment and tools these hobbies required. Then three years ago he pulled me into his madness by convincing me to test ride a tandem bike. Within two weeks we had purchased our bike, and we’re learning a new hobby together.
Whether it’s tandem biking, learning to play the ukulele, gardening, fishing, or climbing fourteeners, finding new hobbies benefit us in so many ways. Riding a tandem has strengthened our marriage and given us something to do together as our nest has emptied. Playing the ukulele has given my husband a break from the stress of work.
Too often we associate hobbies with people who have too much time on their hands when it should be the reverse. Hobbies should be what we work to make time for. Anything that stretches us, gets us up and moving, and trying new things helps us mentally, physically and socially. Here are just a few of the many benefits a new hobby can offer.
Stress sometimes gets a bad rap. There are two kinds of stress and hobbies help both. We all need a break from the bad stress. Whether it is our job, stressful family situations, or life in general, hobbies provide a break from what ails us. Bad stress depletes our body and sucks our energy, but when we replace it with good stress called eustress the effects on our body change. Eustress is the rush of excitement and joy you feel when engaged with something new. A new hobby may feel a little intimidating, but that rush is good for you so embrace it!
When we get complacent in our routines, we are neglecting to challenge our brain.
When we get complacent in our routines, we are neglecting to challenge our brain. Learning new things pushes our brain to stay active and on top of our game. Hobbies provide a break with a purpose. New challenges allow us to recharge while still feeling like we are accomplishing something good.
Research backs up the mental benefits. Engaging in hobby type activities creates higher levels of positive psychosocial states and lower levels of depression and negative affect.
Typically a hobby requires a little more physical activity, and that’s good, right? Participating in enjoyable activities or hobbies during our downtime has a direct correlation with lower blood pressure, total cortisol, waist circumference, and body mass index. Yes, hobbies help you be healthier!
I don’t go out of my way to be social, but there is something about a connection with a common interest that feels different. Even if it is a solo interest like gardening, there is a network of people who enjoy the same things you do. Whether you are looking to meet new people or strengthen current relationships, hobbies can help us connect with other people.
Finding a New Hobby
It isn’t always easy to find a new hobby. Sitting around all day doesn’t get us anywhere, and engaging in a new activity isn’t something you can force. The key is keeping an open mind as you try new things. Look into a class about an interest you have, join a friend in a hobby she enjoys, or just make the time to try something you’ve always wanted to try. Keep looking, and you might be surprised when you fall in love with your new favorite past-time.
I came across this TedTalk several months ago. If you’re looking for ideas learning to play a musical instrument is a great one to consider. There are so many benefits!
What are some of your favorite hobbies?
“Association of Enjoyable Leisure Activities With Psychological and Physical Well-Being.” 10 May 2010, Retrieved from US National Library of Medicine (2017).
Originally published at www.choosingwisdom.org