Hobbies. We all had them when we were kids. Things we loved doing “just because.” Maybe it was playing dress-up with your American Girl Dolls, making up dances to N’SYNC songs, or working tirelessly on your backyard tree fort; activities that filled us with such excitement that we just couldn’t get enough of them. But as we get older, we inevitably have less time for hobbies. Most of us are forced to trade them in for “real” activities like making money, cleaning the house, grocery shopping, driving kids to/from their hobbies…you get the idea. If you ask an average adult today what their hobbies are, you’ll likely be laughed at.

Who has time for hobbies?!?

My husband’s hobbies include all-things water sports.

Well, I’m suggesting you make time. There are overwhelming physical + mental health benefits associated with having hobbies. Here are a few of the biggest:

Hobbies support a state of flow

When’s the last time you got completely lost in something that you enjoy? Realized hours passed since the last time you looked at the clock? This is what positive psychologist Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi refers to as a state of flow; complete absorption in what one is doing that they lose sense of space + time. Since flow promotes happiness + other positive emotions, the more frequently we can enter a state of flow, the better. Children seem to be in a constant state of flow. As adults, it requires some effort.

Hobbies help us find a sense of meaning + purpose

Counseling Virginia Beach is what I was born to do, but bot everybody is fortunate enough to have their dream job. A lot of us are forced to take jobs that pay the bills, but otherwise leave us feeling unfulfilled. When we have an activity in our life that we enjoy, it helps form our identity away from our job. It also helps us find meaning in each day, which decreases levels of anxiety + depression.

Hobbies connect us with others.

When you engage in a hobby, you’re likely to connect with other individuals who you normally wouldn’t cross paths with. Unique bonds are formed when you get out in the community and meet the like-minded individuals interested in your chosen hobby. Social connectedness is a key factor in finding happiness in life.

Hobbies relieve stress.

After a stressful day, it’s nice to have a way to wind down + process the day’s events. Rather than numbing our stress through alcohol or distracting ourselves through television, hobbies give us a positive outlet to channel excess energy + tension in our bodies. Effective stress management is associated with reduced blood pressure + lower body mass index (BMI).

Hobbies In My Life

My go-to hobby is playing the guitar. If you give me a slow Saturday morning + a cup of coffee, I can spend hours playing the guitar and completely lose track of time. For me, there’s no better feeling.  If I notice that I’m feeling bored or don’t look forward to playing, I try to find new ways to become re-engaged. I’ll learn a new song or listen to some new music. The trick to keeping hobbies alive is to find ways to continue growing and learning, otherwise you’ll likely become bored and quit.

My challenge to all of you is to find a hobby you enjoy (other than online shopping + the Real Housewives). Plant a garden, take up sewing, try an art class: see what you like! Hobbies are a very personal thing and there are no “good” or “bad” hobbies (as long as they aren’t harming anyone). See if you can find something that allows you to get into a state of flow. It might take some trial and error, and that’s ok!  Once you find it, I promise the benefits will be worth it.