What do you like to do when you’re not working, taking care of your family or doing other things that have to be done?
It’s a question that I ask folks in my office all the time. Why? Because hobbies, or avocations, are an essential part of overall mental health. Really!
Much of our time and energy is taken up by things we have to do:
- earn money
- take care of children, pets, aging family members
- clean the house
- keep the yard tidy
- pay bills
- manage our stuff in all its forms
- eat, sleep, take care of our bodies
Many of these things are enjoyable (hopefully work and family are – at least some of the time!) and provide us with a sense of purpose and accomplishment. Both very important things!
But in order to achieve and maintain good mental health, there also needs to be some room for hobbies, or avocations. These are things that don’t have to be done, but are simply pleasurable and meaningful in their own right. For some folks, hobbies are what gives our life meaning.
Hobbies can provide us with opportunities to grow and learn. They can also give us opportunities to challenge ourselves and stretch the boundaries of our comfort zones. Some of these kinds of hobbies might be things like:
- vegetable gardening
- bread baking
- fiction writing
- playing chess
- playing guitar
Often, hobbies also provide us with opportunities to socialize with other people who are interested in the same quirky things we are. But the cool thing about these relationships are that they are born out of mutual interests not out of obligation.
Stay tuned for ideas about how to pick a hobby that works for you!