Do you ever give yourself time to do something enjoyable, a project or activity you might even consider to be fun? Many people have a list of ideas or projects they would like to complete, and the sentence which usually precedes the list is: If I only had time I would get started. Does that sound familiar?

Yes, everyone should have a hobby, especially those who work in an office every day and complete the same routine tasks. There has been a lot written about mindfulness and the benefits of meditation. This is based upon the idea of giving yourself time to be alone, away from your daily routine and responsibilities, to help regain a sense of balance and manage stress. But for many people, the idea of sitting in a quiet room and trying to suddenly become calm and focused without a purpose is too challenging to accomplish. Yet it is understood by those who practice it there are benefits associated with achieving a meditative state.

What if you could do something right now that would benefit your well-being overall, and allow you to tap into the best part of yourself, which also means discovering the best of who you are? You might be using this strategy now without considering the benefits of it or how it helps you manage stress. What I am referring to is being involved in a hobby or form of pastime activity, doing something that could involve more than working on a crafts type of project. A hobby is a project or activity that allows you to change your thought process while being involved in a productive or creative process.

What Does It Mean to Have a Hobby?

The very idea of a hobby may seem fun and exciting, or something you would do only if you could take a break from all of your other responsibilities. That is why it would be helpful to rethink what it means to have a hobby. I have chosen this word to represent a number of activities. For example, it could include reading, writing, gardening, working on a car, baking, working on a home improvement project, or some other activity. A hobby may also include working on a craft project, which is the usual activity associated with the name itself. Whatever you have chosen, or decide now to get involved in, it should be an activity that engages the mind in a productive or creative manner.

I have used the word hobby instead of pastime as I encourage those I'm coaching or mentoring to view it as something enjoyable, an ongoing activity which can also have a specific purpose. At first it may feel selfish to think about developing an activity which only interests you and not someone else; however, that is part of the purpose of taking time away from your daily routine and what will continue to motivate you to be involved in it. If you try to get involved in something because you believe it will make someone else happy, your enjoyment may be short lived. But if you choose something that makes you happy, and helps you relax, there will be no question about making time for it.

Why is a Hobby So Important?

Regardless of the name you use to describe an activity such as those I have listed, there is something that occurs while you are engaged in it which can be transformative. Consider a person who meditates and how they describe the experience. It is often a very peaceful time when every day thoughts can be tuned out and a sense of calm can be experienced. It is a conscious process of being focused and quiet. In contrast, someone who cares for a garden, bakes, or works on a car may also find they become so focused on their tasks they experience something referred to as "zoning out" or tuning out other distracting thoughts. This is a time of tapping into the creative part of your mind, along with higher order cognitive functions. It is a time when you become productive and focused on the work you are involved in.

When you are involved in an activity or project you enjoy, you may become inspired, develop new ideas, solve problems, write new articles, build new projects, or complete anything else your mind can imagine. What you are doing is tapping into the best of yourself when are in this state of mind. If your hobby involves something creative or productive, there is usually nothing negative associated with it and no reason why you would feel bad while you are involved in it. That is why hobbies are viewed as fun, depending upon the activity chosen. That is also why people tend not to engage in pastime activities, as adults are taught to take care of their serious responsibilities first.

There is a lot of guilt associated with taking downtime or doing something "fun" when a person has a busy schedule and many responsibilities. Yet that is a reason more than ever to have a form of an outlet. A change in your thinking, especially one that helps you tap into a creative side of your mind, can help to manage stress. It can also provide a reboot whenever you feel stuck and in need of a break, or you have run out of new or creative ideas. Sometimes when you think about a subject for too long, especially while you are trying to solve a problem, it prevents you from seeing new options or coming up with new ideas. That is when a change in your thought process can be very helpful.

Make a Hobby a Conscious Decision

There may be an activity or project you are involved in now, one that you consider to be a hobby and have found is very calming for you to be involved in. If so, my recommendation is that you pay attention to that activity and make time for it on a regular basis. The next time you find yourself "in your zone", see if you now notice how good it feels and the productive, positive feelings you experience. This is a time of not only relaxing, but allowing yourself to discover the best of yourself. This is not a time to judge yourself of engage in self-criticism. It is about self-discovery, learning about your strengths, and more importantly, discovering how you can acquire new skills and knowledge as you are engaged in the activity. You may also experience higher order thinking, or critical thinking, which is engaged when you are involved in problem solving.

If you do not have a hobby or pastime activity now, this would be a good time to make a list of projects you would find enjoyable or fun. One recommendation for anyone who would like to share their knowledge with others is to start a blog and begin to write about their expertise and knowledge. There are free blog platforms available and it would be easy to get started. Whatever you decided to do, try to unplug from other distractions, especially technology, so you can focus on your thoughts and give yourself time for self-development. This process will require some effort at first to get started, but once you have experienced the benefits of feeling good about yourself by doing something you enjoy, you will easily make time for it again on a regular basis. What you feel and what you experience will also help you to become more productive in your career as you are teaching yourself to tap into sources of creativity and inspiration.

About Dr. Johnson

Dr. Johnson has worked in the field of higher education and distance learning since 2005. He specializes in distance learning, adult education, faculty development, online teaching, career management, and career development. Dr. J has a Ph.D. in Postsecondary and Adult Education, a Certificate in Training and Performance Improvement, and a Master of Business Administration, MBA. Presently Dr. J is a Core Faculty member for one of the premiere online universities, fulfilling his life's mission to teach, mentor, write, and inspire others.

As a scholar practitioner, Dr. J was published in a scholarly journal and he has been a featured presenter at an international distance learning conference. He has also published over 200 online articles about adult learning, higher education, distance learning, online teaching, and career development.

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