Hobbies—we all say we have them to make it seem like we have a life outside of work, but how much time do you actually dedicate to these pastime activities? Starting a new hobby or even revisiting an old one might be the solution to boredom or another binge-watching sesh. From the arts to exercise, sports and cooking, hobbies can be unparalleled stress relievers that can boost overall creativity and happiness.
For happiness researcher Gillian Mandich, it’s important to find a hobby that you genuinely enjoy doing during your down time, regardless of how busy you may be. “Although it often feels like we have less and less time, if we take an honest look at our time, there are often areas where we waste it, for example, scrolling on Facebook, Instagram or email, which can create the illusion of busyness.”
According to a study published in the Journal of Positive Psychology, those who regularly engage in hobbies felt happier, more energetic and enthusiastic the next day. Mandich says that hobbies also have the capacity to sharpen your problem-solving skills.
Finding a hobby
With adulthood comes jobs and responsibilities, so finding new activities to invest your time in can be a challenge. Mandich suggests walking down memory lane and think about what you loved doing when you were kid. Another way to figure out what hobby you might enjoy is asking yourself questions like: What’s something I’ve always wanted to do? Keep in mind that you don’t have to stick to one hobby forever. If you try playing the trumpet and realize you hate it, no problem! Try a different instrument or switch from music to gardening instead!
Mixing business with pleasure
“One of the greatest things about hobbies is that we are not at work, so we don’t have to focus on rules and doing things a certain, perfect way,” Mandich says. “We are free to improvise, experiment and try new things.” It’s possible that turning your hobby into a career or even just a side hustle can decrease your happiness because you start associating the hobby to stress rather than pleasure. However, if the hobby allows you to make “bonus money” (meaning your bills don’t depend on it) then the extra cash can be used for self-care which can boost your happiness.
Getting into the flow
Flow is one of life’s gifts. It happens when you’re fully immersed in the moment and in the activity you’re doing. Mandich shared some tips on how to get into the flow. First, make sure your workspace is clean and serene. Decluttering your physical space can also declutter your mind. Second, cut out all distractions, so go on ahead and turn that phone off (or put it on “do not disturb” at least)! Lastly, make sure you’re well-fueled. Hunger can disrupt your flow, so eating a healthy snack like almonds or an apple is a good idea.
Having the ability to engage in hobbies can feel like a luxury at times. But it doesn’t have to be expensive or time-consuming – it just has to be fun for you. Hobbies can be in an inspiration to various aspects of your life, but most importantly it can make you happier than you already are.