In our busy world, hobbies, or pursuits we enjoy for leisure, often take a back seat. It has become increasingly rare to spend a great deal of time on something unrelated to work and other responsibilities in our hectic lives. Often, as people approach retirement, they panic about the idea of not having other interests. We worry about filling our time. As a result, something that is supposed to be fun ends up being another stress!
How Did We Get Here?
When did having hobbies become, at best, a rarity, or worse, something to dread? Are hobbies for women a relic of the past? Sadly, many people become consumed with work and other responsibilities and don’t see the purpose of these pursuits.
Often, if we are lucky enough to have leisure time, we don’t want to fill it with tasks, equipment, schedules, preferring to use the down time for complete relaxation. Certainly, there is nothing wrong with this, but it is interesting to examine why many people have given up on hobbies, even ones they used to enjoy thoroughly in the past.
Today, many of us spend our working lives in a “career is everything” mentality. Carving out the time to do something that will not advance our work lives, or will take us away from family, other responsibilities, and sheer downtime, may seem like an imposition or a waste of time. If hobbies are pursued, it is often with a view toward morphing into an income opportunity.
We are also in danger of passing these ideas onto our children. As a high school teacher, I heard many students announce they would be giving up the arts/music/sports or other pursuits after high school because “It’s not like I’m going to make a living doing this….it’s not related to what I’m studying in university.” We tend to become single-focused in the pursuit of a career.
Why Pursue Hobbies?
Deciding to devote time to an interest totally unrelated to work is a great way to break out of that “all work” mentality. This gives us a chance to learn and concentrate on something else in our leisure time, without a lot of pressure. It is a great reminder that work isn’t everything and we aren’t defined by our professional identity.
Hobbies for women can be healthy! A 2009 study found health benefits, such as lower blood pressure, lower rates of depression and stress, and better overall physical and mental health among adults who engaged in hobbies.
In fact, these benefits can even extend into your working life. Another study found people with hobbies demonstrated greater creativity, problem solving skills, and the ability to help colleagues!
How to Find a Hobby
Of course, the last thing you want is increased stress by trying to find and develop a hobby. If it becomes a chore, the purpose has been defeated. Give some thought to what you might embrace as a leisure time pursuit. Think of childhood interests and passions. Reflect on career paths you didn’t choose, or on daydreams you never followed. Maybe you’re that high school student who shelved an interest in favour of an academic path that seemed more employable.
I always wanted to be an actress as a child, and really enjoyed theatre and music in high school. Other interests eventually took over (and reality set in!); however, I never really lost interest. It just took different forms as I enjoyed attending plays and productions.
After retirement, I decided to dive in more fully. I enrolled at a local acting school in sessions catering to the “over 55” crowd. I’m now completely hooked and am spending a great deal of my leisure time taking classes and pursuing this interest. I may take it further and pursue local amateur theatre – or I may not. The point is that I am enjoying the “now” experience!
The Benefits of Hobbies for Women
Along with the physical and psychological health benefits described earlier, the “side effects” of embracing hobbies for women are positive and far-reaching.
- The do-over – the chance to re-create the enjoyment you once had, or to re-live past dreams, is exhilarating! And doing it later in life is far less stressful when you don’t have to worry about where this will take you in your career.
- Along with this comes improved confidence as you realize what you are capable of, again, without having to worry about your performance or being judged by employers.
- Creativity is heightened, not only in your chosen hobby, but in other aspects of life. You may even branch into another related hobby as a result.
- Although time management is a concern during our busy work lives, after retirement, having things to put on a to-do list or schedule may be helpful for those who crave that structure. Or, enjoy the freedom of doing this whenever you please!
- Depending on the hobby you choose, this may be a great chance to develop new friendships, build relationships, and create new social opportunities. Since beginning my acting classes in the last year, I have gained a whole new group of friends with whom I share this passion.
In conclusion, discovering and developing a side interest unrelated to your work life is a very positive and affirming experience. Hobbies for women enhance our leisure time, our creativity, our relationships, and even our overall health. It is time to dust off these so-called relics, give them a new life, and sing their praises!