I remember when I did not incorporate hobbies into my life. Like many, I was building my career and believed my performance at work was just that, all about my work. I worked long hours, I gave it my all, and was good at what I did. All in all, life seemed pretty good. I was achieving my goals and being rewarded. I didn’t give living a balanced lifestyle much of a thought.
But then life began to fray. Having had various illnesses since childhood, they began to take more of a hold on my life. More illnesses piled on. I ate healthy and made time for some exercise, so I was doing everything right… right?
Wrong! I did what was expected, what was normal. I kept pushing, and pushing, until one day, there was no push left in me. It took an unfortunate accident to push me to my breaking point, but this accident may have just saved my life.
Pushing through was no longer an option. I could not care for myself. Getting dressed was difficult, and showering myself was not possible. I relied on my husband for food on the table, for groceries, and for all the basic necessities in life.
In 2008, I left the corporate world and slowly began to rebuild my life.
Realization of How Far I’ve Come
Recently, I was on a group zoom call with several business leaders. Every individual on this call is a wonderful human who successfully leads their business with a sense of collaboration and compassion. We were enjoying ourselves and someone asked, ‘What are your favorite hobbies?”
I jumped right in. I love to work on my art, whether that’s working with chalks or paint. Playing an instrument, especially my clarinet and piano, gives me joy. We’re now trying our hand at southern gardening and enjoying cooking unique meals together. And I love to walk at the beach.
I stopped short, even though several more hobbies were bubbling off the tip of my tongue, waiting to spill out. Hobbies such as trying new recipes with my husband, playing board games, making time for deep, meaningful conversations, and making flower arrangements.
Our newest hobby is building a coffee roaster to roast our own beans.
I could have gone on and on. I love participating in a variety of activities in my free time.
To my great surprise, the common theme of the conversation was that though everyone would love to incorporate more hobbies, there just doesn’t seem to be enough time.
My heart dropped. I’ve learned the value of hobbies and how they can bring joy, increase your performance and simply make life more fun. Hobbies are a great way to connect with friends and family, find peace in solitude, and are also wonderful for reducing stress.
At this moment, I realized how far I’ve come in creating and living a balanced life.
Is Time Really the Issue?
What if time isn’t the issue?
It’s so easy, and common, to get caught up in the busyness of life, that we forget to truly live. I often share how our ‘culture of hustle’ is one of the ways societal and cultural norms encourage us to push ourselves and to then continue pushing ourselves further and further, even beyond our limits. Sadly, this too often leads to a lifestyle that results in chronic illness, or chronic symptoms such as ongoing fatigue and a general lack of wellness.
In our desire to be successful at our work, to be there for everyone, to keep up with social media, networking, and so many other demands, we lose ourselves. We forget or put off, taking care of ourselves. And when you don’t balance ALL aspects of your well-being, you can’t fully show up and live your best life.
What Do Hobbies Have to Do with Living a Balanced Life?
Hobbies provide a means to improve various areas of your well-being and to bring more balance to your life. When you feel relaxed or rejuvenated from a hobby, you also experience a greater sense of inner balance.
As your inner balance strengthens, so does your awareness and your sense of who you are, what your priorities are, and what you are or aren’t willing to ‘give up’ to achieve success. These changes impact all areas of your well-being. For example, if you take up walking as a hobby, chances are your sleep, nutrition, and stress levels will also improve.
Hobbies Improve Our Productivity
Hobbies are also shown to increase your productivity at work. In a study of 341 employees and 92 US Air Force captains, those with creative hobbies demonstrated a sense of relaxation, a greater sense of mastery, and were more likely to exhibit creativity in their job performance. In other words, creative hobbies boosted their work performance.
Another study, as referenced by Fast Company, demonstrated that hobbies can make us more competitive in the workplace and enhance our problem-solving abilities. These studies also demonstrated that different hobbies lead to various positive outcomes, such as improving cognition, mental performance, your brain’s plasticity, cardiovascular health, or even just feeling good.
7 Benefits of Hobbies That Impact Your Well-Being
Hobbies are not all about productivity and performance. Hobbies are a wonderful way to improve the overall quality of your life and your well-being.
Seven key benefits you can begin enjoying immediately
- Happiness: Participating in an enjoyable hobby such as music or art activates part of your brain that can impact happiness.
- Social Benefits: Hobbies can increase your social connections and expand your community. There’s an online or community group for almost all hobbies and joining these groups can result in new bonds of friendship.
- Confidence: The more time you spend enjoying a hobby that is not related to your work, the more this hobby can boost your confidence.
- Physical Wellness: From dancing to gardening to writing, hobbies are good for your health. Benefits can range from cardiovascular health, lower stress levels and to improved outcomes with anxiety, depression, and even cancer.
- Mental Wellness: Hobbies help you unwind, share common interests, and even add meaning to your life.
- Creativity and Productivity: Hobbies that utilize your creative skills, such as painting or photography, increase your ability to problem solve, in both business and personal life.
- Increased Peace, Relaxation & Rejuvenation: Many hobbies help reduce a sense of overwhelm and burnout. Some hobbies, such as gardening, bird watching or crocheting, can be meditative in nature and increase your feelings of relaxation and rejuvenation.
5 Ways to Make Time for Hobbies
I already referenced that the number one reason people give for not enjoying hobbies is time. Making time for hobbies can be as simple as making the decision that you are worth it. When you realize, better yet, EXPERIENCE the benefits, you’ll wonder why you thought you lacked the time. I know I did.
- Turn an existing activity into a hobby. For example, be creative with cooking dinner. Learn to create masterpieces with your meals. Turn this time into a time of enjoyment and learning.
- Utilize small timeframes for big benefits. Take 5 minutes and doodle – that’s right, grab a piece of paper and simply doodle. Doodling can improve your memory.
- Set boundaries to support your priorities. Here’s a truth statement, if you don’t protect your time and your well-being, no one else is going to step in and do it for you. Be aware of what you are spending your time on. What projects or people can you say no to? Remember to also set boundaries on yourself. Is one hour of Netflix turning into two hours?
- Get up 20 minutes earlier or leave work 20 minutes earlier. The time you spend on your hobby is likely to increase your overall productivity, literally giving you the sense of more time in your day.
- Be inspired by what you can achieve through hobbies. When you consider the benefits of hobbies and how much they can improve your productivity and well-being, use that energy to make a commitment to yourself. Pick one hobby and set a goal. From learning how to craft a card or wooden toy to give as a gift to knitting a baby outfit. When you are caught up on the enjoyment of your hobby, you’ll find the time! Need an idea or two?
My hope is that wherever you are on your wellness journey, you’ll continue to enhance the quality of your life by incorporating activities you love and that bring you energy. Hobbies are one more way to keep moving forward on your path to inner balance and to a balanced lifestyle that serves your needs.
Now it’s your turn. What hobby are you going to incorporate into your life? I’d love to hear in the comments!