Why Hobbies are Crucial to a Balanced Life
As the saying goes, “all work and no play makes Jack a dull boy.” Dull is an interesting word, and rather a perfect one for the expression, because it can mean both bored and boring. Life as a college student can easily become dull, even in its busyness, if you let school and work take over. Hobbies aren’t just some frivolous activity for retirees to spend their time on, they’re crucial to a life worth living, as shown by the many benefits hobbyists enjoy.
Let me clear something up right away: you do have the time. There is no magical length that makes an activity magically turn into a hobby; it can take five minutes or several hours – whatever works for you. Finding the time isn’t too hard either: think of all the times you check your social media, or send emails, or even just drive a car. Your day is full of pockets of wasted time that you can collect into a worthwhile pursuit. And, no, Netflix doesn’t count. A true hobby engages us in what is called active leisure, meaning an activity that requires thought, skill, creativity, or movement. Absorbing an entire TV series in three days is called passive leisure, and while there’s a time and place for that too, it doesn’t have the same benefits.
Boy, are there a lot of benefits.
For starters, hobbies are psychologically fantastic. When your mind is focused on something you love, it doesn’t have time to worry about all the other cares of life. In fact, people with hobbies are much less likely to have depression. Doing an activity simply for enjoyment is intrinsically valuable; it promotes eustress – or ‘good stress’, allows a break from the mundane, and affords a sense of inspiration into every aspect of your life. Hobbies are also proven to make you think more creatively. Simply put, they enliven you.
More than just your mind, your body benefits from a hobby, too. Of course, if your hobby involves exercise you’ll reap the benefits in full, but even sitting still and knitting can have a positive impact on your body. Hobbies lower blood pressure and cortisol, and can even shrink your waistline. Plus, the positive emotions connected with your chosen pastime can speed your recovery from illnesses like colds.
Lastly, hobbies broaden your life. When you participate in something new, you meet new people who share the same interests and form connections that would be impossible otherwise. They make you a more interesting person. People like passion and they like people with stories to tell. Also, a hobby adds new aspects to your identity. Not only do they give you something to do, they give you someone to be.
With all these benefits, it’s clear that hobbies are a must in order to have a healthy and balanced life. Now all you have to do is choose one. Examine your interests and the skills you already have and ask yourself how you can expand them into a hobby. Remember: while your hobby can mirror other aspects of your life, it should be separate from them so that there is a clear mental line between work and play. For example, if photography is part of your homework, maybe video should be your hobby. Whether you pick up a sport, a skill, or an activity, your hobby will surely benefit and balance your life. Kick the dullness, Jack – you’ll be better for it.
Need some ideas? Here are a few free hobbies that might appeal to you!