What’s a good stress reduction strategy? Nearly everyone is looking for the best ways to relieve stress these days. When it comes to anxiety and stress relief, did you know that having a hobby can be incredibly healthy to your mental health and significantly reduce stress?
You’re likely quite busy. You may just hope to survive another demanding workday so you can come home and crash on your couch. So, why would you want another thing on your to-do list when you already have quite enough? That’s what some wonder.
Also, you may worry you’ll feel guilty for wasting time and not being “productive” enough. But, did you know that hobbies often are more than a luxury? They offer some of the best stress relief, drastically improving your quality of life. Here are some reasons why hobbies help so much with stress and anxiety relief.
Hobbies Can Help You Realize You Have More Time Than You Thought
Now, don’t get me wrong. There are times that you absolutely must cut out some responsibilities because you’re too overworked. But there are also plenty of people out there who have more time than they realize. But that extra time tends to get lost on social media, surfing the web, or similar activities.
Having a hobby scheduled can be good for stress reduction because you’re forced to be more efficient with your extra time. You find a way to make it work. It’s been found that our tasks take longer to complete if we feel there is more time and vice versa (Parkinson’s Law). We go through those tasks in slow motion when more time exists, filling in the gaps with unnecessary busyness. But the opposite is also true: when we perceive there’s less time to get something done, we tend to kick it in gear and accomplish that task more quickly.
Why is this important? Because one of the first excuses people give is not having the time for a hobby. It may sound like a badge of honor to declare how busy you are, but your mental health could drastically improve by finding a hobby, including your time management. You replace previously lost time with something that is more fulfilling and relaxing.
Hobbies Are an Outlet for Your Authentic Self
Have you ever felt like you were an actor in your life—just doing what was necessary to get by? Maybe a bad career fit is interfering, for instance. It’s like you have to be somebody different at work and home. Or, maybe your spirit feels crushed by a lengthy commute and unsustainable work hours.
If you feel like you’re “in your own skin” while at work, you’re fortunate. In that case, your work is a closer expression of yourself than many experience in their careers. But no matter how good of a fit your work seems, I’m willing to bet you’re limited in your self-expression to some extent. After all, most work isn’t tailor-made to your interests. Instead, it must first serve the needs of the company you work for. And if you own a business, you quickly find the same thing—there are tasks you have to do that you aren’t particularly good at or that you enjoy.
That’s where hobbies can give you an outlet you tend not to get from work. It is very stressful to go too long not feeling like you can express yourself uniquely. Hobbies provide that opportunity.
Hobbies Help You Get “Lost” for a While
The best hobbies aren’t necessarily just the web surfing types (although there are times for that). Instead, hobbies, where you can get lost in the moment and lose track of time, are especially valuable to your well-being.
For a while, you’re able to put your concerns and responsibilities aside and only focus on your interests. That could be as simple as reading a good adventure book, taking a hike, or creating some art. The key is finding something that’s so interesting to you that you lose track of the rest of your life for a while.
Others may wonder what you find fascinating about looking for mushrooms in a forest, researching genealogies or traveling. That isn’t your concern, though, because this is your hobby and it expresses what captures your attention.
Hobbies Expand Your Social Networks
Your hobby preferences may indeed be different depending on whether you’re an introvert or an extrovert. At the same time, regardless of your hobby, you’ll likely get to know people you otherwise wouldn’t have.
You’ll come across some wonderful people as you seek out your hobby. Not only will you share a specific interest that not everyone has. But you’ll also get the chance to build friendships and share life together. You weren’t meant to live life alone. Hobbies are an excellent way to meet new people because your guard is already down since you share a common interest. Some of these connections can turn into vital friendships that make life more meaningful and stress-free.
You Develop Something About Yourself You Can’t Lose
Americans, more than most other nationalities, tend to firmly tie their identity to their work. It’s the first thing we often talk about with others besides the weather when engaging in small talk. But did you know that in some other countries it’s most common to discuss one’s hobbies or family first?
The reality is that you could go through a rough spell in your career or even lose your job. Experiences like this can be intensely unsettling for all of us. However, this is all the truer if we wrap too much of our identity into our careers. Our work is only one part of us and it can change. However, hobbies allow for a healthier and more diverse self-concept that isn’t so troubled when setbacks in another life area occur. That’s why hobbies should be part of your office stress relief plan.
In her “Psychology Today” article entitled Six Reasons to Get a Hobby, Jaime L. Kurtz Ph.D. shares the following regarding hobbies and self-concept:
“These activities are more than merely distracting. They remind you that there are many facets to your self-concept. Employee, yes, but also athlete or artist. As such, a blow to one aspect of your identity is less damaging. Simply put, your eggs aren’t all in one basket.”
Has Stress Reduction Been Difficult for You Lately?
We all go through challenging times in life where finding stress relief is difficult. And while finding a hobby or two you enjoy can be an excellent stress management technique, you may feel like you need more ways to relieve stress.
In that case, anxiety counseling may be a significant help. At the OC Relationship Center, you can work with an anxiety therapist to identify evidence-based ways to better deal with daily pressures. Feel free to schedule an appointment with us at your convenience.