From film photography to baking, swimming to running, to reading books, research has shown that having an enjoyable hobby can reduce our stress levels, improve our mood, and help us combat depression. It also gives us an increased sense of purpose and belonging, both of which are essential to inner peace.
Hobbies can not only make a positive impact on our quality of life, but they can also improve our work performance. When we feel fulfilled in our personal lives by engaging in activities we’re genuinely interested in, we’ll feel more energized and focused in other areas, too, such as work.
As children, most of us were experts at finding hobbies. From music to poetry, to sports, to collecting figurines or paper napkins, we knew intuitively how we wanted to spend our playtime and enjoyed those moments wholeheartedly. However, as adults, many of us committed to our jobs and careers to the fullest, leaving little room for trying new things.
So how do we get it back? How do you get inspired again to find new interests to enjoy other than work that will keep you invigorated and fulfilled?
Finding new interests you love is definitely possible, so today, we’ve prepared a guide on how to get inspired to find a new hobby (again).
Why Are Hobbies Good for Me?
Let’s begin with an intuitive observation: spending your free time engaged in the activities you have chosen for yourself because they bring you joy will elevate your general mood and make your feel more enthusiastic about everything else in your life too, like your work, health, social, and romantic relationships.
While this is something most of us already understand based on intuitively gathered data from the environment, there’s also a huge body of research that confirms hobbies have a lot of benefits.
Preventing Negative Outcomes
After developing a scale called the Pittsburgh Enjoyable Activities Test (PEAT), a group of researchers who were interested in the health benefits of hobbies did multiple studies. They discovered that people who had higher scores on the PEAT test were more prone to engage in enjoyable activities and had better health scores in terms of body mass index, less severe symptoms of a present illness, better blood status, lower presence of stress hormones, improved sleep quality, and in general, a longer life.
It’s also likely that people who are healthier tend to pursue hobbies more than those whose starting point is not as good health-wise.
When it comes to stress, which is the most common root cause of both physical and mental health issues, there is a lot of evidence that hobbies actually work as buffers against stress, and that by practicing hobbies, we are able to reduce our stress levels and prevent health issues.
Promoting Positive Outcomes
Besides preventing certain negative outcomes, hobbies also work towards promoting positive outcomes.
For example, fitness-oriented hobbies can enhance your general happiness levels. Many people that have engaged in hobbies for a prolonged period of time have reported that their lives started to make more sense and that they have been happier in general since they took up a new hobby.
Even when they challenge us, our hobbies are a fun way to discover a new side of ourselves and learn something new in the process, which is immensely important for our overall feeling of happiness.
Furthermore, hobbies and leisure activities often bring us closer to other people, especially if we pick a social activity that involves sharing the experience with others. Research has shown that the larger and more diverse our social network is, the healthier and happier we are.
As we mentioned already, hobbies can also help us excel at our jobs in an indirect way. Furthermore, a new hobby may enrich our skillset, proving useful for our profession.
For example, someone who has taken up improv theatre as a hobby may be considered a good candidate for a job position that requires frequent presenting in front of other people, thinking on your feet, and social skills, while someone who pursues fishing as a hobby, may be an excellent candidate for positions that require patience and persistence.
However, consider this: picking a certain hobby solely because it can help you excel at your job may not be the best reason for picking that hobby. Instead, the goal is to move your focus from the job to enjoy activities that fulfill you in your spare time. If by chance, this also improves your performance at work and brings you new skills and knowledge you can use there, that’s also great, but it’s best if this isn’t your first priority.
How to Make Time for a Hobby
Growing up at the turn of the 21st century, most of us have learned that it’s our careers, productivity, and families that we need to focus on. But few people have been told that in order to be successful in all of these aspects in the long run, we also need to spend time playing or simply doing things we love, just like when we were children.
Being too busy in life is often a matter of subjective perception. When we commit our entire days only to our job-related activities, we very often spend a lot of time procrastinating, and not realizing that we could have also used that time for other activities.
When you think about it, by setting certain time constraints on your usual daily activities, it’s possible for you to make some room for a hobby.
But how? How do we change our mindsets and improve our time management skills to make hobbies an everyday part of our lives?
Here are a few tips from us.
1. Looking at the Screen Is Not a Hobby
Needless to say, social media, YouTube, Netflix, and email checking are some of the most dopamine-enhancing, yet time-wasting activities. Many of us are already conditioned to respond to every vibration or sound our phones make, not to mention that this is often how we spend our short breaks at work, and perhaps even hours after work.
Yet, we can’t really call these activities a hobby. Scrolling social networks is not a hobby, and neither is binging on a series, regardless of how good it is.
Screens stimulate us on both the psychological and physiological levels, and it can be a real challenge to give them up.
At the same time, these activities are holding us back from either spending meaningful time with the people we love or pursuing hobbies that fulfill us.
Finding free time to pursue the hobby of your choice can sometimes simply mean being more mindful about how you spend your free time. In this case, limiting screen time is something very simple and harmless to do, yet, it may even free up enough time for you to engage in a new hobby.
2. Schedule Your Hobbies
Many people like to plan for activities that are important to them in advance. Usually, we schedule important work meetings, set deadlines for projects, set the goals, and assign ourselves the tasks necessary for their achievement in certain time frames, but what do we do when it comes to our free time and hobbies?
Implementing constructive and productive free time also requires certain planning, so if you want to start hiking on a weekly basis, perhaps you should add that too to your Productivity Planner, and make sure that it’s ticked off the list.
The pitfall of scheduling leisure time is that it can reduce the excitement of spontaneous organization and make it feel like work and obligation. However, having a rough plan (e.g. ‘Sunday afternoon - short hike’) doesn’t necessarily steal the joy from the activity, as it only highlights an approximate time slot by which you should be done with everything else, but it leaves enough flexibility for spontaneity.
3. Be Mindful of Downtime
How do you spend your downtime? Many people are not even aware of how big a portion of their downtime they allocate to mindless activities such as binging on Netflix or scrolling on social media.
Doing nothing after an exhausting day is far from truly relaxing. It’s not about being work-productive during our leisure time, it’s rather about engaging with our whole self in the activities that make us feel fulfilled.
If where your free time goes is a mystery to you, you can try checking in with yourself every hour or two for two or three days by writing down what you’re doing at a particular moment.
Doing this can help you gain insight into how much of your leisure time actually goes to social media or binge-watching TV shows. What you can do instead is challenge yourself to dedicate some of that time to exercising, walking, reading, or doing anything else that brings you joy.
Weekends spent doing such fulfilling activities will prepare you to start the new week feeling fresh and enthusiastic much better than if you spend them laying on your couch and consuming the screen.
4. Weeks vs Days
Thinking about our time in terms of weeks instead of days is much more natural for most working people.
A week lasts 168 hours. We divide these hours into three main blocks of activities: work, sleep, and leisure/free time. If you work a 40-hour workweek and you add some 5-6 hours of weekly household work to that, coupled with 8 hours of sleep a night, you are still left with 65-70 hours of leisure time you could allocate to a nice hobby.
Knowing approximately how many hours a week you have at your disposal puts things into perspective. If you schedule house chores such as cleaning the house and/or cooking on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday afternoons, you’ll know the parts of the week with available time slots for your hobbies.
If you’re not very confident that you’ll stick to your weekly schedule, you can try tracking your weeks. With The Productivity Planner, that’s quite simple, as you already need to plan ahead, write down your weekly and daily plans and activities, and over the course of one or two weeks, you should get an image of what’s realistic to achieve in a week and what isn’t.
If you like math, charts, and precise calculations, you can also try this tool by data scientist Erik Rood designed to help people get a grasp of how they are spending their time and how big are the portions of time they are allocating to which activities.
5. Is There Such a Thing as Too Much Free Time?
Even if you realize that there is not much free time to dedicate to your newly chosen hobby, that’s actually not bad at all.
Having too much free time is just as bad as having almost no free time, a recent study revealed. Too much leisure time seems to make us equally as unhappy as having no leisure time, so the lesson here is to try to strike a balance between the two.
How to Pick the Right Hobby for Me?
So far, we concluded that having a hobby is beneficial for many aspects of our lives and we came up with certain strategies on how to make time for hobbies. But what to do if we don’t know what we would enjoy doing?
What counts as a hobby and what falls into the gaining-more-(work-related)-skills category?
How would you know which activity to choose? The boundaries between the two can sometimes get blurry, and that’s okay. Let’s now dive into what you need to know about hobbies and how to find inspiration to choose the right hobby for yourself.
Pursuing a Hobby vs Skill Building
Skill-building-related activities are mainly intellectual and they are in their nature instrumental. This means that we use them as instruments to achieve some other goal. We may be enjoying the process of acquiring them, but that’s not our primary focus.
With hobbies, it’s different. The primary focus is to enjoy our leisure time without the necessity of excelling in other spheres of our life. If the new activity turns out to be handy elsewhere as well, that’s great, and if not, that’s okay too.
Having a hobby is about doing something that fulfills you rather than doing something that helps you progress at work, such as acquiring new skills or pursuing professional interests.
Learning a new skill is always welcome, and it’s good if we are open to this type of activity, however, there is a different time slot to be allocated for this type of activity. Examples of pursuing interests or skills are learning how to code in Python in order to better organize our work-related databases or learning a new language to better operate a new market where you’d like to start selling.
Picking our hobbies will usually be inspired by our interests, but it may also be inspired by a tendency to diversify our daily lives. For example, someone whose job is to code might not necessarily pick puzzle-solving as their hobby but may pursue dancing or creative writing to broaden their horizons. Furthermore, hobbies usually involve experimentation, having fun, and/or physical engagement in an activity. This goes beyond the intellectual pursuit of knowledge and includes commitment, creativity, and curiosity.
As you may have noticed by now, there’s a lot of overlap between these two, as acquiring a new skill may also involve creativity, just like a hobby can require intellectual effort. Also, the same activity that is a hobby for one person might be a career-related skill for another. The main line of demarcation is the reason behind the decision to engage in the activity.
Let’s dive into some of the ways to inspire yourself for a specific hobby.
Dive Into Yourself
One of the ways to make a decision about the best hobby to pursue is to look into yourself and ask yourself some important questions.
What Did You Love to Do as a Child?
Children are very good at finding hobbies. Painting, sculpting, free-form dancing, making comics, reading backward, making up words… you name it! What did the little you like to do the most? What was the activity that used to engross you and make you simply––happy? Was it poetry? Reading? Dancing? No matter how old you are today, somewhere in the back of your mind there still exists the memory of embodied happiness and you enjoying your favorite activities. Can some of these be your hobby today?
What Do You Enjoy Doing Today?
What can really help is taking a spreadsheet or a piece of paper and simply writing down your daily activities? Which ones make you the most excited? Maybe you are passionate about simply listening to music. Perhaps a hobby can be finding new artists that give you butterflies, dancing, or starting a personal music blog.
The activity of your choice doesn’t have to be something demanding and complicated. Simple activities like cooking or shopping for household items may be the ones that amuse you the most. It’s easy to turn those into a hobby by taking a cooking or interior design class, researching the web for ideas on interesting recipes or indoor decorations, etc.
What Is Something You’ve Always Wanted to Do, but Never Had the Time For?
Once again, dive into the back of your mind and think about the one thing you’ve always wished you knew how to do, but put off learning because you felt intimidated or doubted yourself, or maybe more important things in your life always got in the way.
Some people have always wanted to learn how to play a string instrument. Why not try? They may not end up as the New York Philharmonic’s first violin, but they can enjoy learning how to produce sound on these delicate instruments and maybe even learn how to play a piece of music or two.
Others always wanted to learn how to make great hairstyles. There are so many YouTube tutorials that could help you with this, and you can practice either on yourself or test the trust of your friends to let you experiment on their heads.
Start a New Class
With or without the Internet, there are so many different types of classes you can easily pursue today, from coding to cooking to welding sculptures, or dancing, if there is a will there’s also a way for you to learn how to do something new and enjoy it with your whole being.
If finding your hobby still seems very distant to you, perhaps try taking a walk around your city, visit some events, or talk to other people about how they spend their leisure time. Hearing their stories may give you a new perspective on what you want to do. You may become inspired after visiting a classical music concert to start playing an instrument or seeing an art gallery may inspire you to start an art blog or photography class.
By being more aware of what’s going on in your environment and what activities make people around you spark with joy, there’s no doubt that you can find your piece of happiness as well.
Daily Activities as Inspiration for Hobbies
A lot of activities that are already a part of our regular daily routines can easily become our hobbies. But what differentiates a daily routine from a hobby? Is cooking a hobby if you do it every day?
The main difference is in the approach. We usually approach our daily activities with a sense of duty, while hobbies involve taking a rather mindful and active approach.
Here are some of our suggestions on the daily activities that you can turn into hobbies easily.
While a brief workout or even going to the gym may be a part of your morning or daily routine, it can also become an amazing hobby if you decide to set some goals and pursue it actively. You may even want to sign up for a course to learn more about your desired sport.
Here are some examples.
Aerobic, Pilates, Zumba, and many other types of fitness can be enjoyable forms of activity that require having three to four classes a week. Some of them involve body shaping exercises, while others involve music, dancing, and movement along with doing cardio and strengthening the core.
The main benefits of pursuing this type of activity are that they reduce the risk of heart attack, lower the risk of diabetes, lower blood pressure, strengthen our bones, muscles, and joints, and also improve our kinesthesia (our body’s ability to calibrate movement) by lowering our risk of falling.
Whichever activity you end up choosing, it would mean that you’re making a commitment to allocate a few hours a week to relax and release some stress through exercise. To make it more rewarding, you can try setting a certain goal, for example being able to do XY pushups in 3 months, and work towards it.
If you take a strong liking to it, you may want to take it to the next level, and become a certified fitness instructor by enrolling in classes of your preferred type of fitness.
Yoga is another great hobby that many people decide to pursue because of its many benefits. When yoga is merely a daily activity, we usually simply attend classes and don’t think about it too much when we come home. But yoga as a hobby can mean much more than that. It can help you change your lifestyle for the better by changing the way you view your life.
Its holistic approach to health and perception of the world and us in it is an important element of yoga that you may want to consider if you decide to pursue it as a serious hobby.
Those who regularly practice yoga, also usually practice meditation. However, you may be interested solely in meditation. Developing a hobby of meditation may be a part of a broader spiritual practice, and this amazing and relaxing hobby can involve reading books, listening to podcasts, going to retreats, or keeping a meditation diary.
Daily 5k or 10k runs are a great way to start the day or to vent after an exhausting one. If you enjoy this type of physical activity, you can easily turn it into a hobby. There are many benefits to running, from venting stress to improving your physical persistence and strength.
You can try setting mini-goals as you go to increase your mileage, which will make you feel more accomplished. Plus, you can also join a local running team, and share your passion for movement with other runners.
Being a part of a community that shares your love for something can be an important part of a hobby.
Social and Home Activities
Another part of our everyday lives is social activities. They too can become more than a simple routine and grow into heartwarming hobbies. The possibilities are endless.
Activism and Volunteering
Are there certain socially-relevant topics you truly care about, that touch you deeply and motivate you to take some steps towards change? If so, you can search and join a group of social activists interested in the same issue, and join them in the quest for resolving the issue and making a difference.
Another way of addressing the issues that bother you, or that you’re passionate about, is through volunteering. It can be anything from environmental protection, sex education, to helping those in need.
If you have a pet, you probably know already that they hold a status of a family member. Since we spend a lot of time with them, why not turn that into a hobby?
Dogs for example really love our company and usually can’t wait for us to come up with an activity to do together. You can try training your dog for more than just doing simple tricks. It can go as far as teaching it to become a therapy dog or prepare for a competition. Another great outcome of pursuing this hobby is that it may also bring you closer to a community of dog lovers with whom you can share your passion.
If you like experimenting in the kitchen and are always trying out new recipes, perhaps this can become your new hobby. You can enroll in an online cooking course, or compile a cookbook of interesting recipes from different cuisines you’ll easily find online. Cooking as a hobby can also involve collecting books, kitchen gadgets, spices, recipes, etc. You can combine this with some volunteer work and use your skills to help in the local open kitchen or homeless shelter.
If you often catch yourself organizing, tidying, thinking about, and shopping for accessories for your home, perhaps home decor is the right hobby for you to pursue. You can follow different Pinterest suggestions, YouTubers, interior design magazines, or eventually, start running your own blog on the topic.
Besides the ones mentioned here, there are many more examples of social and home-based activities that you engage in on a daily level that can easily become an inspiring hobby. Be it reading, single or group player card games, bike riding, or collecting something you’re interested in, we are sure that by observing your daily activities you’ll be able to find a hobby that suits your unique interests best.
Final Preparations to Start with a Hobby
So, at this stage, you’ve thought things through, you’ve chosen your hobby, set up a goal, allocated the time in a week, and all that’s left is to start with it.
You’re nearly all set but likely wouldn’t mind reading about a few more tips.
Does Your Hobby Require a Special Space?
If your hobby requires having a dedicated physical space, and if you have some spare space at home, it would be nice to use that part of your home for your hobby. Whether it’s a cabinet for the equipment necessary for the hobby, a workstation, or a cozy reading corner, if possible, it’s good to have a dedicated space where you only deal with your hobby.
Make It Simple and Realistic
There are several things you can do to simplify the process of engaging in your hobby, which will save you some time and also make it easier to incorporate into your routine.
- Prepare everything in advance by storing your equipment and gear so you can easily find them every time you need them.
- Keep the items necessary for your hobby within reach.
- Keep in mind that it’s okay if your success is slow or your creations are imperfect. Focus on the process rather than the product.
- The biggest enjoyment comes when your hobby is truly meaningful to you, so maintaining a space where it feels like engaging in your hobby of choice is enjoyable and elevates you will always leave you feeling satisfied.
- Be selective about supplies and gear shopping, and remember to throw out things that you are no longer using.
- Make sure that the hobby of your choice aligns with your current living conditions. For example, if you live in a small apartment, pick a hobby that doesn’t require lots of free space. Also, the hobby should be in line with your financial situation, so that it doesn’t become a burden.
- If necessary, set limitations. If your free time allows, you can have three or four hobbies, but if that’s not the case, be moderate and limit yourself to one activity.
Having a hobby is very important and can be a great source of relaxation, stress relief, and fun in adulthood.
As children, we used to be very good at picking our hobbies, however, many of us lose this habit when we grow up, as we become more concerned with earning money.
But the more we work, the more we realize that relaxation and me-time are more than necessary for proper productivity.
Some hobbies may grow into skills useful for our jobs as well, and if this happens, even better, however, this should not be in our primary focus when choosing hobbies. There are plenty of other situations more adequate for acquiring new skills and pursuing our interests. The time we allocate for dealing with our hobbies is the time we dedicate to ourselves with the goal of having fun and relaxing through a commitment to an activity that we truly enjoy.