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The Anti-Stress Alphabet: H for Hobbies

In our busy lives, we tend to consider hobbies as an optional activity, one that we will only engage in when we have spare time. However, indulging in our hobbies, whether gardening, drawing, or building Star Wars models, is more than just a way to pass the time. Engaging in a hobby is a form of self-care that comes with numerous benefits. Let's take a closer look at how these activities can be powerful tools in our stress management toolkit.

It's important to understand that not all of our activities can be considered hobbies. Sometimes, we confuse hobbies with tasks, which are things we do out of necessity or obligation. For example, learning a new language can be considered a task when we need it for a certificate or a job. Even if we enjoy it, it's still something we have to accomplish. However, when we learn a new language just for the sake of learning and take pleasure in the process, then it becomes a hobby. Unlike a task, a hobby doesn't require a specific goal beyond personal enjoyment and relaxation.

Practicing a hobby is not just a way to entertain oneself; it has numerous benefits for mental health. Engaging in activities purely for pleasure can help us escape from the stressors of daily life. Hobbies allow us to shift our focus away from the pressures of work and responsibilities and into a state of calm and relaxation. Moreover, participating in hobbies can help us achieve a state of "flow," which is when we become completely absorbed in an activity, lose track of time, and feel a sense of fulfillment. This state of mind promotes mindfulness and reduces stress, which can improve our overall well-being.

Adding hobbies to our busy schedules can be challenging for some people. Others may struggle to choose a single activity. Here are some ideas to consider based on different situations:

  • "I don't have time for hobbies.": Consider taking some time out of your daily schedule for hobbies, even if it's just for 15-20 minutes a day. You can gradually increase the time if you find it enjoyable. Try to integrate your hobbies into your routine tasks, such as listening to podcasts related to your hobby during your commute or taking a break to do an activity. Re-evaluate your priorities and see if less fulfilling activities can be replaced with hobbies. In any case, it's important to make the chosen time for hobbies a non-negotiable part of your schedule and set clear boundaries.

  • "I can't find a hobby that interests me.": Begin by reflecting on your interests, whether they are related to arts, sports, reading, or hands-on activities. Attend workshops, classes, or events in your community to try out different hobbies. Don't be afraid to step out of your comfort zone; sometimes, the most unexpected activities could bring joy. Pay attention to activities that captivate your attention or bring a sense of accomplishment. Experiment with short-term commitments to various hobbies until you find one that genuinely sparks your enthusiasm and motivation.

  • "I always lose focus when trying to enjoy a hobby.": If you often struggle with staying focused during your hobbies, it might be helpful to create a specific and well-organized space for your activity. This can help minimize interruptions and distractions. To further enhance your concentration, try eliminating digital distractions and practicing mindfulness techniques. Begin with shorter, more concentrated sessions and gradually build up to longer periods of time as you develop your concentration skills. Additionally, choose hobbies that naturally interest you, as this can make it easier to stay engaged and focused.

When creating a stress management plan, it's important to set aside time for hobbies. They allow you to relax, learn more about yourself, and create a more balanced and fulfilling life. As we approach the new year, have you considered trying out a new hobby as a resolution? Share your thoughts below!

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