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The Importance of Having a Hobby

It’s drilled into our heads time and time again, “school school school, work work work.” But there’s a valuable word that is often missing, which is “play.” The simple addition of a consistent hobby, passion, or activity into your life can make a world of difference, not only for your life but also for your health and well-being. The best part about it is there is no strict definition of what qualifies as a hobby. In my opinion, anything that you can follow or do classifies as a hobby. Journaling, scrapbooking, birdwatching, or taking pictures of obscure landmarks are all just as valid as the typical examples such as arts and music, reading, sports, cooking, etc. Everybody should follow their interests and find the hobby that’s right for them.

Having a hobby has a wide range of benefits, but one great aspect of hobbies is that they can teach you valuable skills that are highly transferrable into the “real world.” It requires patience and dedication to learn and perfect a new skill. For many hobbies, such as sports or arts, a high-quality work ethic and strict regimen are necessary, teaching time management and lifestyle balancing. Teamwork and collaboration, leadership, and other soft skills can be developed, depending on what you do. All of these side benefits come on top of learning a concrete skill, whether that be playing an instrument or poetry writing or cooking. The drive to master our respective crafts, or simply to just enjoy them to their fullest potential, can carry over to our day to day lives in many ways.

Hobbies provide an excellent vehicle for social interaction and relationship building. Book clubs, hiking groups, sports teams, and community classes are all examples of organized groups centered around a particular interest or activity. Having an interest in something makes you a more well-rounded person, adding layers to your personality. Hobbies can be the ultimate tool for “putting yourself out there” and meeting people, which can lead to building a stronger social circle through meaningful relationships. Having that common ground with others is the ultimate ice breaker and can be a catalyst for forming new bonds with others all by itself. Also, it has been shown that hobbies can provide a boost in confidence and self-esteem, which are key factors in improving your social life.

Hobbies have incredible health benefits that should not be overlooked. Yeah, learning a new song on guitar or filling another page in a coloring book can be great ways to occupy your time, but beyond that are the positive effects on your mind and body. Hobbies provide a healthy outlet for various energies. Finding time in your day to do something you want to do and enjoy doing can reduce negative stress while promoting eustress, or positive stress. Eustress is needed for our daily lives, and provides a healthy amount of challenge.  Hobbies are good for more than just stress relief, too. They’re an excellent source of happiness and enjoyment, and can boost your mental health as a whole. Most importantly, hobbies are just plain and simply fun. We live our lives working, tending to one responsibility after another, caring for our various obligations. Sometimes, we just need something that will make us smile and remind ourselves, “there’s more to life than running around, constantly stressed out.”

A proper work/play balance is not only a nice thing to have, but one could say that it’s vitally important. We spend our whole lives going to school, just to spend our whole lives going to work. We as a society have created a funnel that overemphasizes these two ideals at the cost of minimizing the encouragement of doing things for our own enjoyment. The scale tips as we age; as we get older, we bear more responsibilities and as a result have less time to enjoy what we take pleasure in. But I would argue that it isn’t our time that is constricted. Our view of what’s important shrinks as we’re told what is and is not worth our time. Doing something you find joy in is no less important than school, work, or whatever else there is in your life that you feel you must prioritize. Find the time, make the time, take the time, and enjoy the time spent following your interests and passions. You owe it to yourself.