In the day to day busyness of work, school, and family, it can be quite a challenge to find the almost-mythical “Me Time.” For many of us, when we do find “Me Time”, we dread the idea of filling it; after all, it’s supposed to be time to wind down and do nothing, right? Better yet: that’s what Netflix is for!
However, in my personal experience, I’ve realized that this “do nothing” is a numbing practice. We aren’t necessarily refreshing our minds or recharging our mental/emotional energy. We’re just clicking mute on everything. In some instances, I think this method is totally fine. But if you really want to get the most out of your downtime, I suggest taking up a hobby! And here are 5 reasons:
Purpose without pressure
Pressure makes a huge difference in we react to a variety of situations. For example, when we prepare dinner for ourselves, our expectations might be rather low (it’s mostly cooked, it’s fine) compared to when we are preparing dinner for a guest. When other people are invited to be our “judges”, a small (or great) amount of pressure sets in and adds anxiety to the experience.
With a hobby, your guest (or audience) is simply yourself. You can relax, set your own standards, and perhaps ignore negative feedback altogether. It isn’t about impressing anyone, but simply about entertaining and engaging your own heart and mind.
Recharge your batteries
Whether or not you love your job, if you’re giving 100% everyday (heck, even 75-80%), you’re burning up a lot of energy. While a hobby may seem like just one more thing to add to your already gargantuan to-do list, it shouldn’t be! An ideal hobby isn’t a chore or a mandatory task: it’s like taking a mental breath and letting it out slowly. It’s an activity that either allows your brain to relax or stretch muscles that don’t get used at work.
For example, if your work is physically demanding, but your mind doesn’t feel stimulated, you may take up some kind of intellectual puzzle solving, or creative endeavors that make you think outside the box. If your job is mentally taxing, you choose a physical activity that allows your mind to rest while your body works. Your hobby shouldn’t be an obligation; it should be a time of refreshment!
Connect with others (or not)
Even though your hobby is for yourself, first and foremost, it’s also a great way to connect with others around you. As mentioned before, your hobby is a purpose without pressure: this makes it a relaxing, non-competitive topic of conversation as well. Sharing your hobby with others gives you a connection that doesn’t require anything from anyone: it’s simply a topic of interest.
On a related note, a hobby is a great way to manage social interaction outside of work. If you prefer the company of others, including them in the hobby is a great way to hang out and relax in a non-business environment. Conversely, if you prefer alone-time to recover, your hobby can serve as a reason for being alone: “Actually, I’m going to the library to do some writing. Can we meet later?”
Voluntarily invest in yourself
Your job is a kind of investment in yourself, but it’s largely a required one. You need a roof over your head, and food on the table, so you have to have a job. There’s no way around that. A hobby, on the other hand, is totally voluntary. You don’t have to spend your freetime pursuing personal growth of any kind, but freely choosing to do so goes a long way in bolstering your self-esteem and confidence. It’s a way to give something to yourself without expecting anything in return (see #1).
Discover new strengths
Hobbies are a fantastic way to learn new things about yourself. For instance: many (maybe most) people would claim to be “uncreative.” For me, I never saw myself as physically active, nor did I feel any desire to start recreational exercising. However, after a week of simple morning stretches, I discovered that I really enjoyed the feeling of being active and alert, and I began to challenge myself with more intense workouts. The great thing about hobbies is that it’s okay if you aren’t “good enough” or experienced (see #1 again.) All that matters is that you use your time to explore and grow.