By: Dr. Melissa Mannion
Wednesday, April 5, 2022
It's More Than Just a Hobby
There isn’t enough time!
When I ask my patients what they like to do for fun, the most common responses are a laugh, a shrug, or an eyeroll. Many of them tell me how much homework they have or that their hobby is to watch Netflix or YouTube*. I get it, there is a lot to get done in a day, including work, homework, household chores, pet care, etc, so why would I ask them to add another thing to their schedule?
The Global Wellness Institute defines wellness as “an active pursuit that is associated with intentions, choices, and actions as we work towards an optimal state of health and wellbeing”. They list 6 dimensions of wellness: physical, mental, emotional, spiritual, social, and environmental. Well-being and happiness are perceptions of a current state of being that are achieved through lifestyle choices and actions. Having a chronic disease can make good health seem impossible, but by taking action towards overall wellness we can enhance our quality of life and overall well-being. So how do hobbies contribute to wellness?
Hobbies provide an opportunity to be active! Physical activity hobbies like sports or games are an obvious way to add movement to your life. But all hobbies require active thinking, concentration, or changes in movement from your typical work routine to keep your brain and body engaged.
Hobbies are fun! So much of our lives become devoted to work and necessary tasks that we lose joy in leisure activities. Hobbies provide opportunities to enjoy a task, a project, learning, or an experience just for the enjoyment of it. Depending on your personality, there is a hobby that will let you find joy in competition, or satisfaction in achieving a goal, or excitement over a new journey.
Hobbies increase your social network! Leisure activities provide an opportunity to meet people who have similar interests to you. Hobbies contribute to relationship building and social bonding over a shared goal or skill.
Hobbies make you interesting! Having a hobby adds to your identity and self-concept. They provide an outlet for personal exploration and development. Having a chronic disease can be very overwhelming, but having other interests helps to ensure that your diagnosis doesn’t define you and isn’t all that you are.
Hobbies help with stress! Certain activities can be a direct outlet for frustration or provide an opportunity to meditate and process a stressful situation. Creating additional facets of your self-concept through hobbies also increases resiliency if one aspect is damaged because the impact is reduced. But having many interests and hobbies doesn’t decrease the satisfaction of success in each activity.
Ok, let’s say I’ve convinced you to try a hobby, how do you find the right hobby? You could think of something you’ve always wanted to try, but never got around to it. You could restart something that you used to love doing, but let it fall off your priority list. You could ask to tag along with a friend to one of their activities. You could be inspired by hobbies featured by your favorite people on TikTok, a stroll through a home improvement store, or a museum.
Once you’ve decided what you want to try, get searching! Many schools have recreational teams or clubs, community centers and museums have classes and interest groups, and the internet has an instructional video for probably any hobby you can imagine.
But what about how busy I am with everything else? Well Parkinson’s law states that “work expands so as to fill the time available for its completion”. In other words, work contracts to fill the time we give it and more importantly, habitually wasted time (social media scrolling, email) contracts even more. Scheduling a hobby can help you structure your time and be more productive in the work and fun parts of your life.
I recently took my own advice and started an activity that isn’t work or watching all of Netflix. A friend and I were inspired by some social media videos of a reality TV star doing figure skating and gymnastics so we found an adult gymnastics class. It is awesome! I needed something that was predictable on a schedule, I wanted a reason to be physically moving, and I have a buddy for this adventure, so this hobby was the right choice for me right now.
What do you do for fun? What hobby do you want to try? Let me know on twitter @MannionMD and stay posted for updates on our adult gymnastics competitions this fall!
*(I am very proud of all of my patients who manage a chronic disease and are to do something they love. I’m happy to brag about their successes in snowboarding, show choir, volleyball, painting, basketball, theater, football, tae kwon do, hair and makeup design, marching band, cheerleading, golf, gymnastics, twirling, color guard, swimming, drawing, creative writing, equestrian events, ballet, and many other things)
What is wellness? Global Wellness Institute. (2021, September 3). Retrieved April 3, 2022 from https://globalwellnessinstitute.org/what-is-wellness/
Wikimedia Foundation. (2022, March 24). Parkinson's law. Wikipedia. Retrieved April 3, 2022, from https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Parkinson%27s_law