At first glance, one may think that the combination of love and hobbies is a peculiar pair. One may go on to wonder how this odd couple could improve our well-being. Well, here’s how:
Love is often a word that is difficult to describe. In All About Love, author Bell Hooks defines love in a way that I found to be helpful in my understanding of this emotion that is often described as an action word. I also found it helpful to help me gauge if I am acting in love. Here is my elaborated version: Love is the setting of an intention that is followed by action to enhance and nurture one’s own or another person’s mind, body, and spiritual growth. Therefore, when we engage in hobbies, we are loving ourselves. We are choosing to intentionally pour into ourselves. Participating in hobbies is a powerfully nourishing act of self-love.
Receiving love is to receive nourishment and care, which promotes overall well-being. 1 Corinthians 13 tells us that love is the greatest aspect of life. Therefore, acting in love towards ourselves is the greatest thing that we can do for ourselves. We can love ourselves in many ways and engaging in hobbies is one of those ways. Participating in hobbies aids in reducing our stress levels by reducing cortisol. Cortisol is known as the stress hormone, and it negatively impacts our energy, mood, and sleep. Hobbies like walking, gardening, or painting can promote calm and peace. During the lockdown phase of Covid-19, many people engaged in new hobbies and felt the benefits of reduced anxiety.
Engaging in hobbies reduces sadness and depression as there is an increase in the pleasure chemical dopamine, leaving us to feel more joy and optimism and promote fun and laughter. Not only do hobbies add to our feelings of happiness, but they also promote how we feel about ourselves. The more we engage in the activities we enjoy, the more skilled we are, which promotes a higher self-evaluation, including our self-worth/value, self-confidence, and self-esteem.
In today’s climate, many of us are pulled in various directions. We can be left feeling as if there is never time to just be. We may even feel as if our lives are no longer our own. When we play our favorite musical instrument or walk along the lake, we are adding meaning to our life and providing ourselves with a sense of control. This sense of autonomy can be extremely helpful when the expectations of life are numerous.
Finding a Hobby
To identify a hobby, you can create a list of:
- Activities that you loved to do in your younger years
- Activities that you’ve been curious about but never tried.
- Evaluate areas of your life that can use some attention.
- Are you in need of mental stimulation? Perhaps you can join a book club.
- Are most of your days sedentary? Perhaps you can look into yoga, rock climbing, or dancing.
- You can also take an assessment such as the Strong Interest Inventory, the Myers Briggs Type Indicator, or an Interest Assessment to help you get pointed in the right direction.
As you explore the list, know that some activities will work out and others will not. This is okay, we’re learning ourselves in a different way. Have fun enjoying the journey.
When choosing a hobby, it is best to choose something that feels natural, easy, and fulfilling. It would be great if a hobby would be satisfying to various aspects of yourself, which can include (although not limited to) mental, spiritual, emotional, physical, and/or practical aspects.
Obstacles to Engaging in Hobbies
Life is busy for most of us and trying to find extra time to engage in hobbies may feel like a challenge, and we may be unmotivated to do so. One thing that we can say to ourselves is that the long-term benefits will outweigh the challenge of getting started. Another thing is that the best motivation is to get started. The benefits will promote us to keep going, so go out there and love on YOU!
Lastly, some may feel as if they shouldn’t take time for themselves with so many responsibilities and other things to care for. I would like to remind you of a commandment that is often overlooked, which is to love your neighbor as you love yourself (Mark 12:31). Thus it is our responsibility to love on ourselves. Loving ourselves is God’s expectation of us, and engaging in self-care through hobbies is a great way to do just that!