There are so many things we can do to keep ourselves healthy, well, and engaged as we age. Having or developing a hobby is one of those things. Yes, there are hobbies we can learn to enjoy! We may have to explore a bit till we find
the one that is just right for each of us, but it will have its own rewards in deeper life satisfaction. Finding a hobby may
require getting out of our comfort zone, some patience, and lots of exploring, depending on our personality. The benefits of having a hobby outweighs the discomfort of the search. I will address what I think are 3 benefits of having a hobby as we age.
Benefit #1, Decreases Stress
Many of us, even as we age, spend our days with way too much stress. Having a hobby is known to decrease stress. It helps us to focus on something other than ourselves, which is not always bad, but needs to be balanced with an out-of-ourselves focus as well.
We do not want to be without stress. Healthy stress, known as eustress, is the optimal place to be. If we don’t have
enough stress we become disengaged and unmotivated, even depressed. Too much stress wears us out, including our bodies. It causes distress.
What we want to work toward is the balance at the center where too much and not enough stress meet. At that place we feel engaged, motivated, relaxed, and balanced. We have enough stress but not too much.
Merriam-Webster dictionary describes eustress as:
“a positive form of stress having a beneficial effect on health, motivation, performance, and emotional well-being … during positive stress (“eustress“), such as a promotion or vacation, feel-good chemicals called endorphins
Eustress is what we want to aim for. Finding an enjoyable hobby can help us move into this place of eustress.
Benefit #2, Active Hobby Supports Overall Health
Research has shown people who have an active hobby tend to be healthier overall. In a previous post on this website I talked about my walking routine. I walk alone. It relaxes me and helps me clear my head. It is a bit like meditation for
me, and helps me stay closer to a eustress state. You might want to try it. Walking has “accidentally” become a hobby for me.
There are many active hobbies for us to choose from, things like:
- Strength training
This is only a partial list of potential active hobbies. You may discover others. Having an active hobby means we are using our bodies, while we are enjoying what we are doing. Enjoying the activity is really important.
I learned with walking the enjoyment came because I was not overdoing it. Too often we push ourselves too hard at the beginning then it becomes difficult to continue the activity. Do what you do leisurely and easily but consistently. Before you know it, you may want to do more of it.
Benefit #3, Meaningful Routine, Social Connections
Hobbies can help us build a meaning routine into our lives. While active in the labor force, before retirement, there were schedules to keep, appointments to be engaged, and activities that needed doing. After retirement, our schedule loosen up. Sometimes it loosens up too much and we start disengaging in an unhealthy way. Depression can easily follow this. Having some structure built back into our lives can help us stay emotionally/mentally and physically healthy.
It also gives us something we can talk about with other people in social settings and makes us more interesting to be with. Social connections are very important as we age and hobbies can help us be more social. A hobby can motivate us to join groups who enjoy the same hobbies we do, like quilting circles, block a month clubs, painting groups. There are so many hobby groups available. Many of them can be found on line and in our neighborhoods.
Diversity of hobbies
Hobbies are as diverse as all our personalities. The important thing is that it is leisurely
and brings pleasure, enjoyment, and relaxation.
When it is a hobby we feel better while we are participating in it. It helps us feel worthwhile. The list of possible hobbies is endless.Art, painting, drawing, sculpting, coloring, etc
- Interior design
- Joining interesting groups
- Card games
- Basket weaving
Pay attention to what you are feeling as you go throughout your day. Notice when you are really enjoying
something. Ask yourself if this may become your hobby. Try new things. Look for unusual encounters. Just being alert to your experiences may help you identify what could become your favorite hobby.
Sometimes I think we accidentally come upon a hobby, like with my walking. The key was the regularity with which I did it. Out of that came the enjoyment and the benefits. I am more relaxed, mentally alert, and feel considerably more content and at ease than I did prior to this discovery.
Enjoying it all
As I said earlier, your hobby needs to bring you pleasure, be leisurely, and enjoyable. It is good to have several
different hobbies, to learn to enjoy many things. For, example, what else can I enjoy if for some reason I am unable to walk. In my repertoire of hobbies is sewing, crocheting (making baskets), knitting, depression glass, interior design (always looking at my home), genealogy, shelling and a few more. It provides me with a marvelous variety of enjoyable things to do!
Allow your discovery of a hobby to be fun for you. Stay alert to what you enjoy doing. Do it regularly and routinely and soon enough you may stumble onto your hobby. It will give you something to talk about and discuss in social gatherings and help you engage meaningfully with others. An active hobby, of course, will also support your physical health.
There are so many things to enjoy in our world. I hope this helps you name your already existing hobbies or to discover
a new one. Enjoy the search and the journey.
Please leave any comments you may have below and I will respond to you as soon as I can.