A hobby is defined as an activity done in a regular basis during one’s leisure time for pleasure. Hobbies make life more enjoyable—research can back me up on this. The Society of Behavioral Medicine conducted a research that examined the effects of leisure to health and overall well-being. The results revealed 115 research participants to have positive moods, less stress levels, and healthy heart rates when engaged in their leisure activities. Furthermore, another study explains the effect of hobbies in moderating the effect of anxiety and stress. So, you don’t have to feel guilty about that fishing trip you made last weekend.

The following are hobbies shared by actual business owners, that can help you deal with stress and perform better at work. Remember that a hobby need not to be something you’re an expert at. Hobbies are for enjoyment and something you’re not familiar with is definitely a must-try.

1. Dancing

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Mastering a style of dancing requires the same level of commitment and diligence required to run, manage, and grow a successful business. TrueLine Publishing President and CEO, Hajmil Carr tells how integral her hobbies are to become a great boss.

“I am an avid salsa dancer and skier. My hobbies are an integral part of my efficacy and performance at work because they are rooted in pure passion. By delving into practice regarding something that you truly care about, you learn mastery.”

-Hajmil Carr, TrueLine Publishing

Dancing once a week does wonders for your abilities as a boss, and is very much an unusual trait for a startup founder like John Turner, CEO of UsersThink.

“Dancing is the hobby that makes me a much better boss. It provides a great physical outlet, giving me more energy throughout the week, as well as being a fun activity that helps me clear my head and reduces stress so I can be more thoughtful and helpful during the workweek.”

-John Turner, UsersThink

2. Flying Aircrafts

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Founder & CEO of Switch, Yarden Tadmor, is very passionate about managing his business and flying, for the simple reason that it fits his personality so well.

“Both require me to constantly be learning, awake, and aware of my surroundings. Both include all kinds of variables and things can turn on a dime, but when both move smoothly, they really hum along. At the end of the day, you’re the one in the cockpit or the boardroom, and I really like that kind of pressure and accountability. I thrive on it and I think my employees respond to that managing by example.”

-Yarden Tadmor, Switch

3. Acting

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Image Source: Flickr

Theatrical acting is absolutely fantastic if you are a boss and looking to improve or gain new skills in such areas like public speaking, teamwork, active listening, or memorization. CEO and Co-Founder of Waverly Knobs, Evin Charles Anderson, is a perfect example of this.

“It has greatly assisted me in my day-to-day interactions, involvement, team building, and much more. You also don’t need to be in NY, Boston, Chicago or LA as there are many community theater groups scattered across the US that anyone can become involved with.”

-Evin Charles Anderson, Waverly Knobs

4. Yoga

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Image Source: Flickr

Yoga provides relaxation, clarity and positivity. These are perfect if you’re doing a million things at the same time. Andrew Reich, Managing Director and Founder of InTouch Manufacturing Services comes to office with a peaceful mind thanks to yoga.

“Yoga guides me towards providing my employees direction and reinforcement while not burdening them with micromanagement and the negativity that some bosses bring to work. My yoga routine also gives me the energy I need to get through the day and motivate my staff.”

-Andrew Reich, InTouch Manufacturing Services

5. Game Officiating

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Image Source: FlagSpin

Did you know that there is a third team on the field during a football game? It’s the game officials! Who knew this could be a perfect hobby for The Marketing Quarterback owner, Victor Clarke.

“From pre-game to post-game, every move by the officials is pre-planned. As a business owner, I must learn and enforce business rules, apply correct positioning to make the right business calls, and occasionally, I must penalize poor behavior. The three priorities of officiating are to keep the game safe, fair, and fun. This should be the same priority of a business owner’s management style.”

-Victor Clarke, The Marketing Quarterback

6. Reading

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Reading has always been a great way to manage stress. It also expands your vocabulary and improves cognitive function. Spencer X. Smith, vice president of sales turned consultant, who also teaches business planning and Internet marketing classes at the University of Wisconsin, shares his love for reading and re-reading books.

“Depending on what is going on in our business, the best books (Think Good To Great) seem to morph into what I need at that time. The insights were there before, but now I’m just reading it from a different point of view. When discussing these ideas, it also helps to point to an outside source (like a book) so the discussion is more collaborative, and not an edict.”

-Spencer X. Smith

7. Exercising

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It may seem counterintuitive to increase the physical demands of your body, but exercising can make you a better boss. Leading a company is both physically and mentally arduous. Monica Eaton-Cardone, COO of Chargebacks911, routinely changes her workout to accommodate the current demands of her job. As the challenges at work ebb and flow, the intensity of her exercises conforms to her stress level.

“Exercise is my passion. I don’t grudgingly workout to improve my health or lose weight. I don’t see exercise as a consequence for eating my favorite foods. I genuinely enjoy pushing my body to its limits. I like discovering new ways to improve my abilities. But most importantly, I relish the clarity and open-mindedness that exercise provides me as I enter the office. Without a physical release of my mental anguish, I wouldn’t be able to joyfully interact with employees.”

-Monica Eaton-Cardone, Chargebacks911

8. Traveling

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Traveling can help you create a culture of adventure and curiosity in your workplace. TJ Sassini, CEO of ZOZI.com is an avid adventurer. He has pursued his passion in more than 30 countries‹ from wreck diving in Australia and canyoning in New Zealand, to backcountry skiing expeditions and shark diving. He is also a two-time IronMan triathlete and also completed an unassisted solo cycle expedition from Portugal to Italy, crossing the Pyrenees in early Spring.

It’s important as an entrepreneur to gain new perspectives and be unafraid to get out of your comfort zone. Founder and Managing Director of Acceleration Partners, Robert Glazer, sets an example of taking a break to his employees.

“Traveling is a hobby that gets me out of the office while giving me time to think about The Big Picture and bring back new ideas. In addition to setting the example of taking a break, I actively look for ways to engage my team through travel, whether organizing off-site employee retreats or encouraging employees to take vacation time.”

-Robert Glazer, Acceleration Partners

9. Playing Piano

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Learning a new hobby is never too late for MyCorporation CEO Deborah Sweeney. She took up piano lessons six months ago and she’s loving it!

“It teaches me patience and it reinforces my mindset of hard work. My piano instructor is constantly encouraging me to let go and enjoy. That is not always easy for a business owner, but I continue to work on it through piano (and also in motherhood)!”

-Deborah Sweeney, MyCorporation

10. Ice Hockey

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Here’s a tough and challenging hobby for you — ice hockey. Andrew Schrage, CEO and Co-owner of Money Crashers is by no means an expert to this sport, but constantly trying to improve his skills and the competition that goes along with participating transfers over to running his small business is a challenge he is very much willing to accept.

“I always strive to do a better job everyday and I have a great focus on winning and making my organization one of the best in the industry.”

-Andrew Schrage, Money Crashers

11. Fishing

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Fishing is a great hobby to help better your managerial skills. From the discipline it takes to get up to catch the sunrise bite before work, to the patience it requires to land that first fish, Online Marketing Manager Tim Smith of DialMyCalls knows the drill.

“Fishing takes up quite a lot of time in my life and it definitely improves my work ethic. Discipline and patience are two extremely important factors when it comes to managing co-workers and customers which is why fishing is the perfect hobby for me.”

-Tim Smith, DialMyCalls

12. Gardening

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It’s not everyday you get to work with a boss who has an intensively planted yard. Meet Christopher Peck, Managing Partner of Natural Investments. The experience of planning his personal ecosystem, then dealing with successes and failures of the plan, ripples into the similar challenges inherent in running a business and supporting the growth of his colleagues at work.

“The time I spend working with the soil and plants in my intensively planted yard pays big dividends in my professional life, that is to manage a 9-office investment advisory firm. These hours refresh my body and mind, of course, and they also offer a quiet time away from the desk during which integration and insight can emerge.”

-Christopher Peck, Natural Investments

13. Sausage Making

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Here’s something you must try at least once in your life — sausage-making. Well, butchery and sausage-making to be specific. To be fancier, charcuterie. That is the hobby of Red Sky CEO, Jessica Flynn.

“I think it’s important for every managerial ‘buck-stops-here’er’ to get their hands dirty and make sausage — literally. A world of meetings, emails, digital engagement, and conference calls have blunted our senses. Without the joy of creation, our ability to think creatively and lead with inspiration is stunted. Every business founder, owner, leader or manager needs to commit to creating, crafting, producing, building or cranking out something physical weekly. Put down the digital devices and get hands on.”

-Jessica Flynn, Red Sky

14. Knitting

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The beauty of knitting is that it relieves tension and calms both your body and mind. Business owner and author, Tara Swiger, knits a bit every night, and sometimes even during phone meetings.

“It gives me something to do with my hands as I think through a difficult challenge. Without it, I would surely be more likely to snap at my assistant. Because she also knits, it gives us something non-work related to talk about and bond over.”

-Tara Swiger

15. Biking

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Endurance sports such as biking can improve your determination, perseverance and drive at work. President and owner of FREE Advertising, Chris Bolivar, bikes almost every day and competes in Ironman Triathlons. These help him bring enthusiasm and entrepreneurial spirit to work everyday.

Here’s another avid long distance road biker. Brian Scudamore, founder and CEO of O2E Brands. Biking allows him to build momentum that will keep going even after he finishes the ride.

“As someone with ADHD, I find that biking is a terrific way to clear my head and regain focus. Arriving to work focused, attentive, and passionate means that I am able to give my employees one hundred per cent, and in turn, they can feed off of my energy, optimism, and support.”

-Brian Scudamore, O2E Brands

16. Blogging

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In addition to blogging regularly about his experiences as a business owner to help and inspire other small business leaders, Matt Rissell, CEO at TSheets, has learned to fly airplanes. These two hobbies make him a better leader because by learning to fly he is exercising his ability to take risks, which he believes is an essential skill as a business leader. Additionally, by sharing his experience, failures and successes with other small business on the TSheets blog, he is reminded of the challenges he has faced while building a successful tech company outside Silicon Valley.

17. Teaching Indoor Cycling

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Fitness instructor leading class on exercise bicycles in gym, low angle view

Image Source: Huffington Post

Teaching rhythm indoor cycling demands a unique-for-each-class, pre-planned choreographed routine with a heavy motivational and performance component. Each musical beat is accounted for, yet you often must pivot with plan B or C within seconds based on your reading of the group’s desires and unknowns, balanced by their needs, which are not always equivalent to their demands. That’s how Alissa Walter, co-founder of Blindsgalore runs her business.

“I conduct my business like I run my spinning room — with precision and prediction yet with the nimbleness to change the whole shebang. At the end of the day both shows must go on and both crowds have to want to come back to join you the next day.”

-Alissa Walter, Blindsgalore

18. Meditating

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As a business owner you are often rushing from meeting to meeting every day and don’t always get the chance to reflect on how your actions affect those around you. That’s where transcendental meditation comes in. This hobby helps Founder and CEO of CloserIQ, Jordan Wan, alleviate his stress and improve his focus and general self awareness.

“Regardless of whether you believe that meditation provides health benefits, I think it’s a great way to block out time and reflect on the quality of your interactions with your colleagues and employees.”

-Jordan Wan, CloserIQ

19. Playing Chess

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Chess can make you a better boss, but not in some crazy-seeing-20-moves-ahead kind of way. Chess taught ilos Founder, Sean Higgins, to appreciate losing. Every time he loses, he learns something, he study harder, and eventually gets better at it.

“You learn quickly and not fear coming up short but to take those missteps and use them to become better than even you thought you could be. Because of this lesson, my team isn’t afraid to come to me with their mistakes. We can face losses together, learn our lesson, and come back stronger on the next milestone.”

-Sean Higgins, ilos

20. Fixing Cars

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Mechanical work takes a lot of problem solving, muscle work, and tremendous patience; but for Enerpan Insulated Panels Controller, Marten Skupien, cars that most people don’t even notice are gems in disguise.

“Today, I’ve got two. A 2004 VW Jetta TDI and an 2007 Audi A4 Avant. I love doing mechanical work on them because it can be frustrating but really rewarding. So doing things like replacing the suspension so that it’s lower… so much low J. The other thing that I really like doing is the detailing of a car because you can really lose yourself in the details of it, it’s nice and calming.”

-Marten Skupien, Enerpan Insulated Panels

Hobbies encourage us to take a break and are proven stress-busters. For busy business owners, they take their breaks with purpose. They engage in activities where they gain a thing or two that can help them succeed and become better bosses. Found a hobby that interests you? Good, now it’s time to plan something this weekend.

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