I’ve been someone who heaped so many hobbies on myself that I ended up crumbling beneath their weight. They took my time and money, overlapping each other until it was just one big mess of both that time and money being wasted. I’ve also been someone who had no hobbies because I didn’t think I was good at anything, was incapable of learning anything new, and like what money even a very cheap hobby might require wouldn’t be worth it.

What I am now is balanced.

In between the two extremes of having too much scheduled into downtime and leaving it empty is a lot of space for compromise and opportunity. Both of those extremes have some pretty big cons attached to them. Having too much scheduled into downtime means getting overwhelmed, spending money you don’t need to (and, in my case, really shouldn’t have), and potentially becoming unhealthily obsessed. On the other side of the spectrum, leaving your downtime open can easily lead to boredom. When I was at this point myself, I ended up getting into a lot of unsafe situations because I was just looking for something to fill my time and landed on stuff I shouldn’t have. At another time, my empty downtime was a symptom of depression with me lying for hours in bed, doing nothing but too awake to actually rest.

Hobbies don’t sound like they’re all that important. They’re perfectly commonplace and seemingly underwhelming.

But hobbies are actually a part of self-care.

Having an interest in something goes a long way in helping us relieve stress, which is harmful as it builds up inside of us. A lot of hobbies go beyond acting as an interest, though, and develop into passions, which can help ground and calm us in difficult times throughout life. Never underestimate the simple act of exploring an interest. It can do wonders for our mental health.

“Your free time is special and important. Outside of work hours and your usual obligations, you can dedicate yourself to something that brings you joy, meaning, and purpose.”

From the article, "Here's how finding a hobby will improve your mental health" on CBHS Health Fund.

Deciding to take up a hobby is all well and good. You might already have a few. Maybe too many. So… how many is too many? And how do you decide which ones to pursue?

Before I explain the how and why behind my landing on the hobbies I did, I do want to quickly assure you that the process of picking hobbies doesn’t have to be much of a process at all. Like the article quoted above says, what you choose to take up should be bringing you joy, meaning, and purpose. Deciding on a hobby shouldn’t be difficult, though I see people struggle with it all the time. And I wonder if that isn’t because we put so much pressure on ourselves to make the right decision and as soon as possible.

When picking your hobbies…
☀ Take your time without letting that time get away from you. There’s no rule that says you have to have your hobbies all sorted within the day. While it might be a process for some, it shouldn’t be a stressful one. It should be fun and interesting! At the same time, don’t let too much time pass. Picking up a hobby is 100% worth the effort – let yourself get excited!
☀  Take into consideration your own desires and needs. The sea of possible hobbies seems endless. There is something out for everyone to pursue and enjoy. Things to consider when choosing a hobby is: how much it costs vs. how much you’re planning to spend, how much time it will take vs. how much time you have to spare for it, and how much effort you’ll need to put into it vs. how much effort you’re willing to put into it.
☀  Chill. Seriously. There’s a good chance that even if you settle on and fall in love with a hobby, your interests will morph over time and you’ll trade it in for a different pastime. Whatever hobby you choose isn’t as important as the mere act that you choose a hobby. Give yourself a break and don’t get frustrated if you feel like switching it up after a few months. Remember that sea of possible hobbies – there will always be something new for you to explore.

There’s no real rules to choosing your hobbies except the ones I outlined. I made this graphic not to add even more rules to the list, but to suggest a well-rounded pool of hobbies that will serve a purpose and, therefore, make them feel more fulfilling. This is how I chose my own hobbies, ensuring that each one met the criteria.

1 to make you money – There are plenty of ways to monetize a hobby. If you craft or make art or bake, sell those products online, at shows, or even on Facebook Market. If you blog, look into affiliate programs and freelance writing. If you train horses or dogs, offer your training services for a fee in your community, or enter competitions. Get creative. Search online for ways to monetize your hobby. You’ll almost definitely find lists of good ideas.

Monetizing your hobby can make it even more satisfying. But it will also help with any costs that hobby might produce. If it becomes quite lucrative, it can help with any costs your other hobbies may have, or even act as an extra avenue of income.

1 to keep you healthy – When I put this on the list, I didn’t mean for it to just mean “regular” exercise. Sure, you can make a hobby out of going to the gym, but there are many other hobbies that are good for your health. Don’t limit yourself. My favourites? Horseback riding (it doesn’t sound like a workout to a lot of people, but it works wonders on your thighs and ups your balance, stability, and agility), indoor rock climbing, and Zumba!

Note: Don’t think of this habit as something to help you lose weight or anything like that, because it’s truly not its purpose. It’s something to help you stay active and enjoy the satisfaction of a successful workout. Being healthy does not immediately equal weight loss, so don’t choose this hobby with that goal. Choose something that sounds like fun, first and foremost, and add some level of exercise to your free time. It was important to me that at least one of my hobbies resulted in me getting up off my butt and, preferably, out of my house.

1 to release creativity – This is what I’d call a stereotypical kind of hobby because it’s the thing most people think of when the word hobby is used. We don’t generally think of making money or staying in shape when we think about hobbies. We often think about activities designed to simply release creativity. Mine is blogging as it not only allows me to write, but make graphics, try out crafts on Pinterest, and experiment with hairstyles and nail art. There’s no end to the possibilities when a hobby’s only purpose to just release creativity.

Not “tradtionally” creative? No problem. If your mind is more technical than creative, just use this hobby slot to fit that. Instead of drawing, you might try fixing an old car. Instead of cooking, you might end up getting into woodwork that requires more construction than decoration. Instead of dance, you might choose to learn how to code. When I said there’s no end to the possibilities here, I wasn’t lying! 😛

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2019 is still fresh and new, full to the brim with potential. For those who enjoy resolutions, what better time to really dive in to a new passion than at the beginning of the year? Our hobbies not only help us feel content and excited about something, but they sharpen old skills and teach us entirely new ones, which is another reason it’s okay to change hobbies as we go through life. Each hobby we take on (and eventually even master) is a potentially new set of skills we can learn so much from and benefit from. A hobby is a beautiful thing.

❤ RG