The benefits of having a hobby

Looking to de-stress, boost your resilience and add a little more joy to your life? Then maybe you should give a hobby a go! In this post I explain how I went from hobby sceptic to enthusiast, and how I feel it’s benefitted my mental health and overall wellbeing.

If you would’ve told me a year ago that making some very wobbly pottery could bring me so much joy I wouldn’t have believed you! I probably would’ve said I’m too busy for a hobby, and what’s the point anyway?!

Happy Mind Training Blog | Healthy Hobbies - Pottery wheel

But since getting behind that pottery wheel my mental health and sense of wellbeing has improved immeasurably. I’m now a firm believer in the importance of making time in your life to do something that’s just for the pure joy of it.

Not convinced having a hobby’s for you? Challenge accepted! Read on to discover some of the benefits of having a hobby, and hopefully by the end I will have persuaded you.

It’s great for boosting your resilience

If you saw me on my pottery wheel you would probably think I’m having a terrible time. It’s actually quite stressful! Just when I think I’ve nailed it and I’m about to make the perfect bowl, I’ll slightly nudge the clay, it goes off centre and the whole thing flies off!

Pottery, like learning any new skill, involves a lot of mistakes. You can’t make an omelette without breaking a few eggs, and it turns out you can’t make a bowl without breaking a few in the process. But for every mistake I make, I learn something new. And it’s thanks to those 10 failed bowls that I was able to actually make one.

Happy Mind Training Blog | Healthy Hobbies - Man using pottery wheel

Making mistakes in pottery has benefitted the rest of my life – I feel like it’s increased my resilience and I’m more willing to try new things now, knowing that if I make a mistake or it doesn’t go so well, it’s ok and that I’ll learn something new in the process.

This isn’t something that’s just unique to pottery – most hobbies involve learning a new skill, from gardening to rock climbing. Getting comfortable with making mistakes can be key in building up your resilience and makes taking on new challenges less daunting – the best things in life are often found outside our comfort zone, and a hobby can help us embrace trying new things.

It gives you a sense of achievement

It’s really satisfying making something physically with your hands, knowing that it’s totally unique and only exists because you made it.

This doesn’t just apply to pottery, it’s been found that engaging in a hobby that we enjoy causes the release of feel-good chemicals in our brain like dopamine. Which in turn, kick-starts our reward system, meaning the more enjoyment we get from our hobby, the more we want to keep doing it.

Hobbies can give you screen-free time

My life Monday to Friday is spent sitting behind a screen, typing away. Pottery offers me time away from any screens, including my phone – it’s a little mini digital detox. And we could all do with less screen time!

Happy Mind Training Blog | Healthy Hobbies - Painting a ceramic bowl

It’s great for combatting stress

When you’re wrestling with a lump of clay, trying to make it into something that at least slightly resembles a mug, it’s very hard to think of anything else. You have to completely focus on what you’re doing in that very moment – start thinking about that stressful work project, or what you’re going to make for dinner and it’s all over, the pot’s gone wobbly and it’s flown off the wheel (again!). It’s because of this need for total focus that I’ve found pottery great for managing stress. When I’m feeling overwhelmed I take myself to my local community pottery studio and emerge a couple of hours later feeling like a different person.

Hobbies offer you a little window of mindfulness, allowing you to escape from stress and just enjoy being in the moment, focussing on what you’re doing right there and then. And who doesn’t want some stress-free time in their life?

It’s just generally good for your mental health

Spotted a running theme yet? What I’m getting at here is that having a hobby offers so many benefits for your mental health and wellbeing generally. It all sounds great doesn’t it? But I bet I haven’t really told you anything you didn’t already know. The benefits of having a hobby are well known – it’s even linked to lower levels of depression.

Happy Mind Training Blog | Healthy Hobbies - Two women smiling using pottery wheel

But it’s also really hard to make time for hobbies in today’s fast-paced world. Shifting our habits and finding spare time can be difficult. Back when we were all in lockdown hobbies boomed – we were all baking sourdough bread, making fresh pasta, gardening, the list goes on! But if you’re anything like me, as soon as lockdown lifted, all those hobbies went out the window!

Making the time post-lockdown for a hobby wasn’t easy, but as soon as I started, I could feel the benefits of having a bit of time in my life committed to just doing something that brings me joy. Managing time is a challenge for us all in today’s busy, always-on-the-go world but if you can find even just half an hour a week to do something you love (it doesn’t have to be pottery!) I can guarantee you’ll feel better for it.

Here are a few of my creations 😜

Still not convinced?

That’s ok, I won’t take it personally. Hobbies aren’t for everyone. Looking for other ways to combat stress, boost your resilience, or cut down your screen time?

Then, check out some of our related training courses below:

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