Exploring New Hobbies

The popularity of new hobbies has boomed in the last few years. Part of this can be traced back to the pandemic lockdowns – many of us were staying home and realizing that we didn’t have much to do that excited us. Hobbies like baking, gardening, and reading have taken off in popularity since.

Finding a hobby might seem like just one more thing that you don’t have enough time for, but hobbies actually make a big difference in quality of life. When you’re engaging in a hobby, you’re using your brain, which can help stave off cognitive decline. Making time for hobbies can lower stress levels and give you a chance to escape from the demands of day to day life.

Hobbies are also important because they’re fun! Life isn’t just about work and sleep. Part of the joy of being alive is exploring new things and experiencing joy, wonder, awe, and satisfaction. Hobbies can provide all of those. Hobbies have even been reported to improve mental health by increasing confidence and improving focus. Time spent on hobbies can also help you experience what’s called a flow state, where you are fully immersed in the activity at hand.

Of course, you can’t conjure up time and energy out of thin air. You don’t have to be able to devote all of your free time to it to enjoy a hobby, but getting started can seem intimidating. 

Here are 4 tips for exploring new hobbies as an adult:

Think of what you liked when you were a kid
If you’re having trouble thinking of hobbies you’re interested in, consider your younger self. What did you like to do when you were little? We often find ourselves constrained by our current lifestyle and the opinions of others as adults, but kids tend to not have that self-consciousness. Did you like to play pretend or splash in the mud or read books or play with toys? Reconnecting as an adult with things you enjoyed as a child can be really fun. You might even find yourself drawn to things that you would never have considered as an adult.

Consider what you do for fun now
What do you do for fun when you have time? Do you like to sit and relax, or are you typically on the go? Does time in nature feel soothing, or do video games help you find an escape? Think about how you spend your free time when you have it, because those activities can point to potential hobbies that may interest you. If you need inspiration for things to try, search your interest along with the word “hobbies” to find ideas (for example: “nature hobbies”).

Make peace with not being great at things
Starting a new hobby can be humbling because it’s not very fun to be bad at something. However, there’s a lot to be gained from simply enjoying the experience of doing or creating, rather than focusing on the outcome. Try to find joy in the experience of doing something new and fun. You might feel self-conscious starting something new, and that’s normal. It’s not easy to put yourself out there and try something new, so be proud of yourself.

Be realistic 
You’re probably not going to change your whole lifestyle overnight to accommodate a new hobby. Some hobbies also require special equipment or classes, which can add up fast. Try to be realistic about what you can afford and what you have time for in your current life. Remember a hobby is for you, it doesn’t have to pay the bills or be perfect. It’s okay to only have a few minutes here and there to work on your new hobby. There’s no competition! Do what feels good for you.

Hobbies can be a crucial aspect of self-care, just like making sure to take your medication or going to therapy. Taking the time to rest and care for yourself isn’t selfish, it’s necessary.

Working with a therapist can help you find more specific ways to care for yourself in ways that support your mental health.