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3 Mental Health Benefits of Pursuing a Hobby

3 Mental Health Benefits of Pursuing a Hobby

About a year ago, I decided that I was going to take my personal journaling and turn it into a website. I didn’t really have a clue what I was doing and I hadn’t quite identified a reason why I was doing it, but I felt this indescribable pull to start writing more frequently and sharing my thoughts with others. In this past year, I have written and published almost 30 articles, reaching readers all over the world.

In the end, I’ve made a total of $0 from these efforts. But, I realized along the way that this has become an incredibly fulfilling hobby for me at a time when I was really seeking fulfillment and purpose in my life.

I have also watched my husband develop and hone in on his hobby of woodworking. He has built us incredible pieces for our home and has given projects away as presents to friends and loved ones. He has brought in a grand total of $0 with his hobby as well.

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What I have found is that a hobby doesn’t need to be an additional source of income. Even further, no matter how busy we are—we can always make time for it. When I started writing, I was working full time, going to graduate school full time, and also teaching a college class one day a week. If we want to make time, we will find it.

The truth is that creating space in your life to pursue a passion in the form of a hobby has incredible benefits on your mental health.

Here are 3 mental health benefits that I have discovered in the past year:

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1. Regaining a sense of control

Life is full of stuff we have no control over. This can be frustrating and intimidating. Sometimes, even if we are lucky enough to get paid for doing what we love, it comes with a price. We might have a supervisor to report to, deadlines to meet, little say over our direction, or a financial overhead to consider.

But a hobby is yours and yours alone. You can choose how to spend your time, you can choose when you want to work on it, and you can take full creative licensure over your work and make it all about you. This brings control back into your life and allows you to manifest and take ownership of something that YOU brought to fruition. You even have the right to decide if you want to share it with the world or keep it to yourself. You alone have the ability to make all of these decisions because this hobby is about you and pursuing what makes you feel happy and whole.

2. Feeling accomplished

We all need a solid ‘win’ every once in awhile. Whenever I finish an article, even if it doesn’t get published in the first place I send it to, I feel this sense of pride over the completion of a task. I watch my husband’s sense of accomplishment when he completes a new project and we either find a place for it in our home or we give it away to someone else.

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There is something truly beautiful about setting out to do something, following through on it, and then witnessing the final product come together. Its even more beautiful to know that whatever this final product is, it came from a place of genuine, authentic and intrinsic motivation. In my mind, there is nothing more fulfilling than a passion project, because its not just the completion that is the accomplishment—it is the whole journey.

3. Finding purpose and meaning

I would be lying if I said that I didn’t occasionally need some motivation to get out of bed in the morning. But, when I have an idea of something to write—my entire body comes to life. My wheels start turning and I can’t wait to get my thoughts on paper. It just so happens that I write for myself and for others. So, when I have a reader reach out to me and tell me that I helped them in some way, I feel like my life has more meaning.

But the truth is that whether your hobby is to create some form of art, to volunteer in service of others, to enhance a personal skill, or to bring people together for a sport or event—the excitement that we feel when we are pursuing what we love really fills our lives with meaning.

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The idea is to choose a hobby that guides you into your ‘flow state,’ or a state that allows us to lose sense of time by becoming so engaged in a task that everything else slips away. When we reach this mental state, we get a glimpse into our soul—into that little place inside of us where our authenticity and happiness thrives. Once we access this place, the mental health benefits are far reaching.

As a counselor, I often remind people that our career doesn’t need to be the only avenue for deriving meaning and purpose from our lives. Sometimes, we simply can’t afford to chase our passion as a career— but that doesn’t mean these sources of joy need to slip away. If you can make some money pursuing your hobby, great. But, that’s not the only reason to follow through with it. Because identifying and pursuing a hobby can ignite a spark in us to live more purposefully—and you can’t put a price tag on that.

Featured photo credit: Stokpic via stokpic.com

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Last Updated on March 13, 2019

How to Get out of a Rut: 12 Useful Ways to Get Unstuck

How to Get out of a Rut: 12 Useful Ways to Get Unstuck

Have you gotten into a rut before? Or are you in a rut right now?

You know you’re in a rut when you run out of ideas and inspiration. I personally see a rut as a productivity vacuum. It might very well be a reason why you aren’t getting results. Even as you spend more time on your work, you can’t seem to get anything constructive done. While I’m normally productive, I get into occasional ruts (especially when I’ve been working back-to-back without rest). During those times, I can spend an entire day in front of the computer and get nothing done. It can be quite frustrating.

Over time, I have tried and found several methods that are helpful to pull me out of a rut. If you experience ruts too, whether as a working professional, a writer, a blogger, a student or other work, you will find these useful. Here are 12 of my personal tips to get out of ruts:

1. Work on the small tasks.

When you are in a rut, tackle it by starting small. Clear away your smaller tasks which have been piling up. Reply to your emails, organize your documents, declutter your work space, and reply to private messages.

Whenever I finish doing that, I generate a positive momentum which I bring forward to my work.

2. Take a break from your work desk.

Get yourself away from your desk and go take a walk. Go to the washroom, walk around the office, go out and get a snack.

Your mind is too bogged down and needs some airing. Sometimes I get new ideas right after I walk away from my computer.

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3. Upgrade yourself

Take the down time to upgrade yourself. Go to a seminar. Read up on new materials (#7). Pick up a new language. Or any of the 42 ways here to improve yourself.

The modern computer uses different typefaces because Steve Jobs dropped in on a calligraphy class back in college. How’s that for inspiration?

4. Talk to a friend.

Talk to someone and get your mind off work for a while.

Talk about anything, from casual chatting to a deep conversation about something you really care about. You will be surprised at how the short encounter can be rejuvenating in its own way.

5. Forget about trying to be perfect.

If you are in a rut, the last thing you want to do is step on your own toes with perfectionist tendencies.

Just start small. Do what you can, at your own pace. Let yourself make mistakes.

Soon, a little trickle of inspiration will come. And then it’ll build up with more trickles. Before you know it, you have a whole stream of ideas.

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6. Paint a vision to work towards.

If you are continuously getting in a rut with your work, maybe there’s no vision inspiring you to move forward.

Think about why you are doing this, and what you are doing it for. What is the end vision in mind?

Make it as vivid as possible. Make sure it’s a vision that inspires you and use that to trigger you to action.

7. Read a book (or blog).

The things we read are like food to our brain. If you are out of ideas, it’s time to feed your brain with great materials.

Here’s a list of 40 books you can start off with. Stock your browser with only the feeds of high quality blogs, such as Lifehack.org, DumbLittleMan, Seth Godin’s Blog, Tim Ferris’ Blog, Zen Habits or The Personal Excellence Blog.

Check out the best selling books; those are generally packed with great wisdom.

8. Have a quick nap.

If you are at home, take a quick nap for about 20-30 minutes. This clears up your mind and gives you a quick boost. Nothing quite like starting off on a fresh start after catching up on sleep.

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9. Remember why you are doing this.

Sometimes we lose sight of why we do what we do, and after a while we become jaded. A quick refresher on why you even started on this project will help.

What were you thinking when you thought of doing this? Retrace your thoughts back to that moment. Recall why you are doing this. Then reconnect with your muse.

10. Find some competition.

Nothing quite like healthy competition to spur us forward. If you are out of ideas, then check up on what people are doing in your space.

Colleagues at work, competitors in the industry, competitors’ products and websites, networking conventions.. you get the drill.

11. Go exercise.

Since you are not making headway at work, might as well spend the time shaping yourself up.

Sometimes we work so much that we neglect our health and fitness. Go jog, swim, cycle, whichever exercise you prefer.

As you improve your physical health, your mental health will improve, too. The different facets of ourselves are all interlinked.

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Here’re 15 Tips to Restart the Exercise Habit (and How to Keep It).

12. Take a good break.

Ruts are usually signs that you have been working too long and too hard. It’s time to get a break.

Beyond the quick tips above, arrange for a 1-day or 2-days of break from your work. Don’t check your (work) emails or do anything work-related. Relax and do your favorite activities. You will return to your work recharged and ready to start.

Contrary to popular belief, the world will not end from taking a break from your work. In fact, you will be much more ready to make an impact after proper rest. My best ideas and inspiration always hit me whenever I’m away from my work.

Take a look at this to learn the importance of rest: The Importance of Scheduling Downtime

More Resources About Getting out of a Rut

Featured photo credit: Joshua Earle via unsplash.com

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