It was about 15 years ago when I discovered a passion for papercrafting. It began with organizing decorative papers and die cuts to create simple scrapbook pages for my photos. Then, I began using different mediums on cardstock, creating original art to place my photos.
More of my free time today is spent pursuing the hobby of cardmaking, (along with writing and blogging!) and using that passion to support charities and those in need.
I have always been someone who enjoyed the arts. When I was young, I learned to play the piano. In high school, I participated in theater, yearbook (no doubt why I gravitated to scrapbooking) and sang in the performance choir. In my 20s, I enjoyed cross stitch, completing framed art to Christmas ornaments as gifts. Later, my career as a marketing manager used my creativity and business skills to produce promotions, events, and advertising for a regional shopping mall.
When raising my two boys and later taking care of an elderly parent, uninterrupted time in my craft room was a rarity. The longer I was away from personal creative pursuits, the more anxiety and depression would wear away at my mental health.
Because of how I’m wired, having time for creativity isn’t just for fun and leisure but is vital to my overall well-being. It was essential to tell my family when I need time alone to read a good book, write in my journal or play with paper.
January is National Hobby Month
This observance is a time to spotlight how important hobbies are to our overall well-being. A favorite hobby can be a mental escape, a time to disconnect from the daily grind. Or it can be a way to learn a new skill, giving a sense of mastery. From reading, writing, and collecting to art and video games, hobbies can be whatever gets your gears going and makes you feel accomplished.
Here are the 5 reasons why a hobby is important to your well-being:
Having a hobby can train your brain.
A hobby can exercise areas of your brain that you do not typically use. Dr. Sula Windgassen, a health psychologist working for the NHS, states, “When you start playing a new sport or developing a new skill, you create new neural pathways between different areas of your brain and your memory. The brain is a big network, and when you take on new activities, you’re building new connections, new points of reference to help you integrate older pieces of knowledge and understanding.” (Women’s Health Magazine, June 2021).
Training your brain leads to the next benefit:
Overall productivity can result from having a hobby.
Participating in a creative hobby has been shown to enhance work performance and problem-solving abilities by as much as 15-30 percent. (Fast Company)
Hobbies give a sense of accomplishment.
A study in New Zealand found that hobbies can lead to improved well-being with long-lasting effects. Participants felt a higher positive affect or mood and a sense of flourishing after days when they engaged in a creative activity. Whether to express creativity or for leisure, hobbies can build self-confidence and self-esteem and add overall joy to life. (Utah State University)
Physical health can improve from participating in a hobby.
In 2010, a team of academics from universities in Kansas, Pittsburgh, and Texas discovered that hobbies were associated with improved physical health, including lower blood pressure, body mass index, and stress hormones.
Hobbies can also improve your mental health.
With the increasing number of people diagnosed with anxiety and depression, hobbies have been linked to decreased symptoms of depression and 30% lower odds of experiencing depression. (Women’s Health Magazine, June 2021).
Friendships are a necessary part of good mental health. Leisure hobbies allow you to meet new people, try new things, get out of your comfort zone and learn new things together.
If it has been some time since you have set aside time to pursue a long-lost hobby or pastime, make this month the time to do just that. Grab a book, start a collection, or try out the settings on your camera – any such pleasurable activity will help our mental and physical health flourish.