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Why You Should Have a Hobby

Stress is a major symptom of a complex and fast paced society. These symptoms are, but not limited to depression and anxiety. Medical science has documented the adverse effects of stress on our mental, physical and emotional health. The information age and the ever increasing change in technology adds to our stress levels. Medical science has provided medications to help treat the symptoms of stress. These medications are important and potentially beneficial, but they are not without their side effects. A less evasive and more satisfying solution to dealing with life’s stress is to find a hobby.

Hobbies can provide many hours of relief from stress. A hobby can boost creativity, self esteem, passion, pleasure and accomplishments. Ted W. Mills grows roses as a hobby and is a rosarian and judge. In his article, True confessions are good for the soul he writes, “Facing retirement, I longed for an activity that would provide both pleasure and a sense of accomplishment. In roses I found the satisfaction.” He goes on to write, “Through all the trials and difficulties that I experience at the outset, many blessings were wrought. Lasting friendships were made and I discovered that rose people were among the best of citizens. All my industry became a labor of love as I shared God’s creative beauty to the forlorn and ill among us.” It is quite obvious to say that Ted’s hobby brought him hours of pleasure, satisfaction, beauty, and friendship.

Hobbies are great distractions from the worries and troubles that plague daily living. I myself, have an interest in woodworking and I recently took a woodturning course and found that when I am turning a project I am not thinking about work, my failing eyesight, or the house chores. I find myself lost in the creative endeavor. Several hours pass without looking at the clock. My mind is quiet and still and my attention is on creating a masterpiece out of a hunk of firewood. Even if a masterpiece is not discovered, what I have acquired is time spent in creating and making a lot of woodchips. I now know how Michelangelo felt as he chipped away the excess marble to find David inside. It’s a Zen thing.

Besides the reduction of stress and worry, hobbies can aid in the battle of depression. One of the simplest means to reduce the effects of depression is to do something fun and enjoyable. Think about it, have you ever seen anyone enjoying an activity that they have a passion for and be depressed while engaged in that activity. No, of course not. Individuals who are involved with their hobby are happier people. In support of this statement, Susan M. McHale, PhD of Penn State University conducted a government study that showed, “Structured activities such as hobbies and sports are the most development-enhancing ways for children to spend their time.” (McHale, 2001) If this is true for children, doesn’t it make sense that hobbies can help adults too.

The positive health benefits of hobbies can also be seen in the elderly. WebMD reports that a new study in the New England Journal of Medicine adds new evidence in the benefit of mind-building hobbies. The study showed mounting evidence that mentally stimulating activities such as reading, playing cards, board games and doing crossword puzzles may prevent or minimize memory loss from the aging population. The study compared exercise to mind building hobbies and found that mind building hobbies do more for preventing Alzheimer’s or dementia than walking. If this is the case, let’s play Monopoly, start the Chess or Euchre tournament before I lose my mind.

Arthritis sufferers, hobbies can be of benefit to you too. The type and kind of hobby you do may need to be modified in order to keep the passion for the hobby alive. The use of adaptive devices and changing the frequency of activity can help rejuvenate the interest. Studies show that hobbies and leisure activities can reduce the affects of arthritis. One study of four patients with osteoarthritis involved in playing the piano found that 20 minute session, four times a week, over a four week period showed improvement in finger pinch and range of motion, also improvement in finger velocity, strengths and dexterity.

Without any misconception or hesitation I can say that hobbies are good for us. Hobbies can do wonders for our minds, our bodies and our souls. Some people including myself turn their hobbies into money making projects. So why not join the fun. Dive into a hobby and have a blast. It is good for you.

[Bill Malone in]

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