How Can I Find A Hobby – Barbara Babcock Supporting individuals and families to navigate the impact of challenging health conditions and live well | Family therapy student | Health Coach | Systematic Family Horoscope | MA Coaching Psychology
A month ago I blogged about 10 ways a hobby can improve your mental health when dealing with the effects of serious illness or injury.
How Can I Find A Hobby
But after writing the blog, something occurred to me that I didn’t include in it. This was a question posed to me by someone living with neurological disorders.
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Great question! You may not have a hobby or have found the right one for you. You may be busy with the routine of your health, work, family and/or life in general. Which is normal and happens to many people.
But maybe you’re at the point where you like to find a hobby to give you a break from illness, family, work, whatever. Or you may want to do something for yourself or to regain a sense of normalcy in your life.
So in this post, I’m going to continue the theme of how a hobby improves mental health by answering that question.
First, a summary from the previous blog 10 ways hobbies can improve your mental health and quality of life.
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These 10 ways provide insight into the criteria or questions you can ask yourself when choosing a new hobby. Not all may be a requirement for you. Nor are they all conditions for a hobby.
The hobby has a decent chance of keeping your attention and focus. This is especially important if you are hoping that the hobby will temporarily relieve your symptoms.
This can be a powerful reminder of your current strengths, which we can sometimes forget when we’re in a tough spot. For example, I enjoy research because it allows me to use my brain in ways that I value. A new hobby I picked up while seriously ill was genealogical research. Another advantage of this hobby was that I didn’t have to exercise too much, which was good because I couldn’t due to illness.
Sometimes after a serious health problem, our body can change permanently and we can no longer do previous activities or we have to adapt the way we do them. For example, a friend had a heart attack and the subsequent angina prevented him from returning to his hobby of running. They picked up a new hobby of photography as it would allow them to walk while taking pictures.
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Learning a new skill or developing an existing skill further provides enjoyment and mastery, which contributes to improved mental health and quality of life.
And do you appreciate this kind of success? For example, knitting can produce a finished product such as a scarf, hat, sweater or blanket that you can use or give to someone as a gift.
Does the hobby provide an opportunity to interact with others in person? Or connecting virtually with people? Which do you prefer? As I said in a previous blog about hobbies, being with others promotes a sense of belonging, which can be very powerful as it reduces the isolation that can come from serious health problems.
However, you may want a hobby that allows you to be alone, and that’s okay too.
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Sometimes this nature belongs to taking care of something or someone else, be it a child, plants or pets. Whatever it is, it depends on you to survive and thrive. The process of helping in this way can be very validating of you and your abilities. This is powerful because often after a serious health problem occurs, it is common to lose our sense of self-worth as we feel that we cannot contribute or look after others as before.
By “meaning” I mean that you appreciate what the activity has to offer, whatever it is, like the activity itself, being with people, helping others, making or collecting something, expanding your knowledge, playing a team game with others , just having fun or something else. Or maybe the hobby allows you to live out your values, something that is important to you. For example, baking could be expressing the value of creativity, or community if you share your baking with others.
A hobby can provide a routine such as “every Wednesday night from April to March I go kayaking” and this promotes a sense of normalcy.
What we enjoyed doing before, and our existing strengths and passions can be the source of new interests. Even the skills we use at work and our jobs can be used in a hobby.
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Hobbies we had as a child may recapture our interest. Or we might adapt childhood hobbies to what we want to do now. For example, maybe you used to sew clothes but now you want to make a quilt.
If you are good at organizing events, many charities and local neighborhood projects may need these skills. If you are an accountant, you could do the bookkeeping for free for a local club or charity, or transfer those skills to a non-regulator organization. You can channel skills you use at work towards a cause you find meaningful.
If you are passionate about nature, keeping bees or having a beekeeper keep hives in your garden, bird watching or creating a home for hedgehogs in your garden can become a hobby.
It may be possible to adapt your approach to past interests so that you can still enjoy them. For example, if you currently have limited mobility and gardening was a favorite pastime, outdoor raised beds or potting and growing plants indoors may still allow you to enjoy the hobby.
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Sometimes a hobby can grow out of another hobby. For example, a friend developed a passion for Word War I history while doing genealogical research. He has since contributed to his local council’s initiative to remember those from the area who fought and died in the war and may even start leading tours of the battlefields in France.
So based on 10 ways hobbies improve your mental health and quality of life, these 10 criteria and questions can be your starting point in finding new hobbies. Have fun trying new activities in the search, and when you find your hobby, share it here. I’d love to know what you choose and how you find it.
Did you take up new hobbies because of health problems? What influenced your choice? And how does it help improve your mental health and quality of life? Share below as your comment might help someone else.
If you are living with a chronic illness or complications of a serious illness, or are caring for someone who is and want support to increase your sense of emotional well-being, see how we can work together and get in touch for a free, no-obligation consultation.
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Although this blog is written in the context of living with a serious health condition, the ideas in it apply to everyone. If you think someone you know would benefit from reading this blog, or you just want to share it with the world, share it using the icons below.
If you or a loved one has experienced a serious health problem in the past 2 years and are struggling or wondering if you can come to terms with what has happened and if you need to, I would love to talk to you. I am researching the concept of ‘recognition’ in the context of a serious health problem by collecting people’s experiences of it. Click here for more information. We all know people who pursue their passions single-mindedly, whether they’re mad at mahjong or devoted to dance. And this pastime is much more than just a fun pastime. Research shows that finding a hobby – an activity outside of regular work that is done primarily for pleasure – can also have significant health benefits.
By choosing to learn and develop unfamiliar skills, hobbyists encourage the brain to form new neural connections. They are also managing stress, improving mood and exercising autonomy, which is a key component of psychological health.
“The play mind is different from the work mind,” explains Joe Robinson, business coach and author of the book.
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. “It’s not about success, it’s about the experience itself. What we get out of the game is nothing less than who we really are.”
Researchers have found that hobbies also offer a rare opportunity to experience flow, the feeling of being so absorbed in an activity that you lose track of time.
“Flow can come from a purely physical activity, like when you’re skiing downhill and each movement is what you were hoping to do, and the results are clear,” says Claremont Graduate University psychology professor Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi, PhD, author of the book.
. “We have hundreds of different ways to try to be outstanding.” It could be physical, artistic, scientific. (For more information on flow, see Go With the Flow.)
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