What do you do
M.Ed., PCC, EAP Consultant/Coach
One of the standard questions on our intakes with new clients is about what leisure activities are practiced by the person. We ask this question not because we’re just trying to be nosy, but because hobbies are activities that help us recharge our batteries, so to speak. They can also provide additional benefits, such as a social support system or an added skill. What surprises me is how many people say “nothing” when I ask this question.
The reason why a lot of people don’t have hobbies is often a lack of time or money. That’s understandable…….if you’re a parent, just keeping up with everyone’s schedule is more than enough to do! And with our hard economic times, people are often making difficult choices. Sadly, we’re doing this at a community level, too—art and music programs are often the first to go in budget cutbacks.
This is unfortunate. Hobbies are an important tool in lessening stress. They give us a sense of accomplishment. They are completely “ours”—we choose when, how often, or how we enjoy our hobby. For some people, they represent our true vocation. For some of my clients, hobbies have led to extra income or even a new job. Most importantly, hobbies “exercise” our brains. Some researchers theorize that such activities help build connections between both hemispheres of the brain. This means that our brains work better!
I try to approach this with clients the same way I deal with the need for exercise: start small. If you look at your schedule, see if you can find those bits and pieces of time. Example: waiting in the car to pick up kids. Try keeping a crossword puzzle or suduko puzzle book in your car. While you’re waiting, work on one. Or take a book. Or if the weather permits, walk around the parking lot and stretch, listening to music on an MP3 player. Or play a word game on your phone.
Try doing something you’ve never done before……take a class. Take that class with a friend, and reap a double benefit of their camaraderie. Or look back to what you used to enjoy growing up. Let’s say you liked playing baseball. You could join a league…….or…….you could simply enjoy a game of catch with your child. Or you could go to a Mudhens game.
Sometimes we have the idea that as adults, we need to be productive all the time. Trying to do that makes us less productive, and usually unhappy. We all need those things in our lives that just simply give us joy. What are yours?