Have you ever wondered the role hobbies can play in a professional’s life or why there’s a section for it on CVs? Hobbies listed on a CV (at least the ones that go beyond ‘reading’ and ‘watching movies’) help showcase a professional’s soft skills, show if they are a cultural fit for an organisation and make for an excellent conversation starter. It’s not far-fetched to say that hobbies are a key to work-life balance.
Gaetano Dinardi, singer, songwriter and producer from Miami, Florida wrote in a Harvard Business Review article titled ‘Why you should work less and spend more time on hobbies’, “When I face a tough challenge at work and feel stymied, I can start to question whether I’ll ever figure out a successful solution. It’s easy to lose creative confidence. But after an hour of shredding on the guitar, hitting notes perfectly, I’m feeling good. I can tell that my brain was craving that kind of satisfaction. And when I face that work project again, I bring the confidence with me.”
As we grow older and become more involved in our professions, we often let go of the hobbies or creative pursuits from our school days. Here are some reasons why reviving them now can benefit you.
You’ll Be Better At Work
Research shows that engaging in creative hobbies during non-work hours significantly enhances on-the-job performance. An article in nature.com explains how a hobby can boost researchers’ productivity and creativity.
Creative endeavours help the mind disengage from work, allowing you to get fresh perspectives. For instance, the best remedy for writers’ blocks is to temporarily shift focus and focus on a different activity altogether. This practice often results in a notable improvement when they return to their writing tasks.
Hobbies Make You Self-Reliant
Ralph Waldo Emerson opens his renowned essay 'Self-Reliance' with the Latin phrase "Ne te quaesiveris extra," which translates to "Do not seek outside of yourself / look within" in English. This quote encapsulates the essay's essence, illuminating the idea that self-reliance empowers us to cultivate independent thinking, embrace our uniqueness, and fervently pursue our aspirations.
The act of being self-reliant in fulfilling fundamental requirements evokes a sense of contentment. Small acts like baking your own bread, constructing a shelf, or nurturing a miniature garden, evoke a sense of accomplishment and self-sufficiency.
Brings Eustress To Your Life
Putting all your free time into screen time can lead to stress while active participation in creative endeavours or hobbies triggers a form of positive stress known as eustress.
Eustress infuses excitement and zeal into our routine existence. It counterbalances the adverse effects of typical stress from work and personal life.
Improves Mental Health
During the First World War, soldiers were sent for basket weaving as a form of occupational therapy, as it helped alleviate anxiety and physical ailments. Almost all of us have our smartphones in our hand or within our hand’s reach for all the waking hours of the day. I, for one, even dread to see my screen time report at times.
Keeping our hands busy in the garden or making bread keeps us away from our phones. Getting my hands dirty with dough, soil, oils or needle and thread was what helped me keep my Covid anxiety under control all through the lockdown and beyond. (Read more on this in my book This Handmade Life: 7 Skills to Enhance and Transform Your Everyday Life).
Creating something from scratch activates and engages all the senses and reduces the levels of stress hormones. Hobbies are a natural way to reduce levels of cortisol (sustained levels of high cortisol in the body is damaging to health in multiple ways). A study on substance abuse treatments found that gardening led to reduction in cortisol levels and improved quality of life as compared to conventional therapies. Hobbies through which you create stuff with your hands is a form of self-care.
How To Make Time For Hobbies
While this may have convinced you to think of reviving your hobbies, time is always a constraint for busy professionals. But there are still ways through which you can make time for your hobbies.
- Use Technology Mindfully: Social media and streaming entertainment can consume excessive free time; set screen time limits for apps.
- Prioritise Leisure: Treat leisure time with the same importance as work; integrate hobbies into weekdays for mental refreshment.
- Start Small: Begin with manageable time chunks; even 20 minutes can be a significant start.
- Set Achievable Goals: Create small goals to motivate completing projects – for example a postcard sized watercolour painting or setting up a couple of potted plants on your windowsill.
- Overcome Perfectionism: Avoid pressure to excel; engaging in arts and crafts, even at a superficial level, is valuable.
- Try To Be Consistent: Regular practice enhances skills more than sporadic attempts; dedicate daily time to your craft.
- Embrace The Process: Focus on the journey, not just the end result; immerse in the creative process for a fulfilling experience.
- Live Mindfully: Slow down and enjoy each moment; engage in tasks meditatively for a more meaningful pace of life.
- Seek Inspiration: Look to nature, new surroundings, or various stimuli for creative ideas; let moments of stillness fuel your creativity.
Creative pursuits play a pivotal role in broadening your personal identity. Recognise that your entire being isn't solely defined by your professional side. Creative hobbies operate as a safeguard against burnout as well. By nurturing your creative side, you effectively mitigate the risks associated with exhaustion and mental fatigue from working non-stop.
So what hobbies are you going to bring back into your life?