Featured Article: Health Benefits of Hobbies
Many psychologists agree that hobbies have health benefits. They provide ways to challenge our minds, strengthen our bodies, relieve stress and make us happier. Some researchers say they even help protect against dementia and help us feel younger. In her parentcircle.com article, Benefits of Hobbies for Your Child , Dr. Priscilla J. S. Selvaraj reveals 10 ways hobbies specifically help children: help bust stress, nurture creativity, improve mental health, ensure physical well-being, build social skills, keep emotionally healthy, help face challenges, teach time management, expand knowledge, and drive away boredom.
One of the best parts about hobbies is you are in control of choosing the what and the when (if not a group activity). If you like to give back, you may choose a hobby that not only makes you feel good but also helps others. Cooking, baking, and gardening are a few you can share with others, by providing food or helping a neighbor plant flowers or vegetables. Even knitting can be shared by making scarves or blankets to give to those in need.
The social aspect of hobbies provides a wonderful way to meet people and make new friends. The support of others can help push you through challenges and working in teams will help strengthen your ability in group work in other areas of your life, such as work, school, and community. If you like group hobbies, try signing up for sports lessons, such as baseball, tennis or karate. While some of these aren’t large team sports, they allow you the chance to learn with others. For group hobbies you may also want to check out the YMCA or your local library.
I must admit I am a hobbyist and view hobbies the same way as psychologists do. As I get older, instead of making a New Year’s resolution to lose weight or exercise more, I make a plan to learn something new, such as a new hobby, in the upcoming year. That doesn’t mean I know what the new hobby will be on January 1; it just means I am determined to challenge myself with a new hobby or skill at some point during the year. While I haven’t mastered any of these, I can honestly say I tried something new and have a stash of go-to activities ready when I need a mood lifter or a break from my responsibilities and commitments. My go-to activities include: cake decorating, tennis, salsa dancing, knitting, and painting. These hobbies began as classes I signed up for through local county programs or were offered at my local library. Each provided a stress reliever and creative challenge outside of my job.
Summer provides plenty of opportunities to try new hobbies. I don’t know what it is about summer that makes me think of trying new things. Maybe it’s the longer days, the vitamin D from the sun energizing me, or just knowing school is out. For school teachers, school librarians, and students, summer break provides more than just afternoons at the pool. It provides unlimited hours to try new things or devote time to beloved hobbies. It was summertime when I learned tennis through group lessons with one of my teacher friends. I will never forget how it was 95 plus degrees during those evening classes, but I will also never forget the laughter we shared as we tried to learn the game and mostly chased the ball.
Dr. Selvaraj’s insights into the impact of hobbies rings true for not only children but adults also. You build self-esteem when you excel, especially when it is something new you have learned. You are building skills and patience that carries over into other aspects of your life. Just think about that impact on children. Not only are they building skills and patience, they are defining who they are and learning what interests them. When kids find something that becomes important to them, they focus more and are engaged without even thinking about it. Once harnessed, these are tools that can help them do the same once they return to school in the fall. And, those hobbies may one day turn into a career.
For more information about the health benefits of hobbies, check out these articles: