Just like the next person I enjoy my fair share of hobbies and leisure pursuits, they undoubtedly make me feel like I’m adding a little colour to my life. So recently I didn’t engage in any of my usual hobbies, I got sidetracked by, well, life. I got sick, had a couple of nights drinking, simply was too lazy to do anything and got stuck in a bit of a rut. It happens. I did none of the usual things I actually like doing and the effect it had on me was noticeable, significantly so.
Which got me thinking, somewhere along the way, especially in today’s technological age, we seem to have forgotten the fundamentals of what makes us happy. Truly happy. Not the “fuck yeah, I just bought the newest thing I need to make my life seem fulfilled and happy”, happy.
Don’t get me wrong, I’m just as susceptible to consumerism as the next person but the question has been raised: How important are hobbies and a little bit of “self-time” to reducing our stress levels and keeping our sanity in the chaotic cacophony of today’s world?
Turns out a fair amount, hobbies are one of the directly influencing factors of eustress, literally translating to “good stress” from it’s Latin counterpart. The more cognitive therapeutic stress a person voluntarily invokes upon their life, the more fulfilling their life seems.
The health benefits have been countless, from pleasure psychology to gratification, hobbies and small acts of kindness to oneself stave off the risk of chronic stress and heart disease. By wholeheartedly engaging ourselves in something we love doing we challenge ourselves and utilize the best of our abilities. We then enter into what is known as a flow state – a meditative state where we can easily lose track of time and free ourselves from the stresses of life according to Carol Kauffman, an assistant clinical professor at Harvard, it “restores your mind and energy,” she says.
If you have an exceptionally busy schedule, or even just a marginally busy one, diverting your attention to something that you love for a few minutes at a time can not only drastically change your mood but your mind-set too. Doing the things you love increases your positivity, productivity and concentration which in turns spills over into the rest of your life.
Now for some bullet points. I love bullet points, I mean who doesn’t? Right?
So here are some about how hobbies affect you positively:
- Increased creative thinking
- Increased confidence
- Positive impact on productivity and work mentality
- Increased work performance
- Lowers depression rates
- Lowers risks of heart disease
- Lowers blood pressure, total cortisol, waist circumference and BMI
The overall positive affect is undeniable. And positivity is a snowballing thing, once you start it gets easier, bigger and better.
At the end of the day I can just throw some more jargon at you, maybe add some statistical figures and keep ramming this article full of some relevant quotes but the end result remains the same. Just go do something that makes you happy, remind yourself of what it is that you love doing, and go do it.
Life will seem more fulfilled and longer and well… happier.
When life gets you down just remember what Charlie Chaplin said, “Nothing is permanent in this wicked world, not even our troubles.”