Spending time on an activity you enjoy has the potential to reduce anxiety and improve mental health overall. Research shows that people with hobbies are less likely to suffer from stress, low mood, and depression. Think about it. When you are having a good time, engaged in activities that you enjoy, you feel happier and more relaxed.
There is little or no need for stress management as endorphins are produced in your body which promote positive feelings. A hobby which is usually something you choose to do outside of your daily “have to” routine is a great way to spend your spare time. Finding a hobby could do any one of the following as it did in this sequence for me;
Find new friends in an environment outside your normal context In my mind it is highly recommended to engage in a hobby that helps me meet new people. When I migrated to Sydney I set out to create as many hobbies as possible. The idea was to meet people from different walks of life. Some were enjoyable and others weren’t but what it certainly did for me was help me meet people who lived in different parts of Sydney and who worked at many different jobs.
I learnt so much from these people and joined activities which made me refocus my mind out of the stress of having just moved countries, to enjoying my new life. This re-direction of focus is what helps your brain engage in enjoyment and reduce stress with hobbies. Unwind from a daily routine I was a banker when I migrated to Sydney. Days were stressful and intense. I had a new job in a new organisation in a new country. From learning how things were done to establishing new relationships. I found a new friend at the bank who was also single.
She lived in Manly which is a beach suburb. As in new friendships the excitement of spending time together was definitely an activity I looked forward to. A quick drive to her place, dinner and a three hour walk by the beach would change my state of mind, leaving me totally relaxed at the end of the night. From smelling the salty air to feeling the cold water at my feet. Learn a new skill As months went by and I delved in more hobbies, I gravitated more to things I had never done before. I especially felt a deep need to get out of my left brain (intellectual side) to my right brain (artistic side). As luck had it, one of my girlfriends was a good dancer.
I loved music and this got me interested in learning a new style of dancing called Ceroc. I found myself a dance partner. We went dancing every Tuesday and Thursday from 7pm for 3 hours. I still recall how stressed I used to feel when I first arrived at the dance hall and how relaxed I felt as I left at the end of the night. My ability to reduce anxiety was certainly fundamental to heighten productivity at work. Challenge you to deepen a current practice An interesting aspect of my life beyond banking was that I felt a calling to meditation.
This I found out unexpectedly as I one day stumbled across a sign that read “free meditation” This journey began with art meditation and opening channels of intuition. After many years of going deeper with a variety of different aspects of meditation, I ventured into the ten day silent retreat-style meditation. I met some of my best friends there and learnt how to bypass jet lag, reduce anxiety and improve mental health. A wonderful very pronounced side effect that everyone at work noticed, was my performance at work improved.
While I did not target explicitly to reduce stress with hobbies, that was what exactly happened. Most organisations view stress management from a serious angle yet the opposite posture needs to be taken. Teams that are happy experience motivation to perform. Their focus is not on how to reduce anxiety or improve mental health, but more to enjoy what they are doing. In fact if you interview an entrepreneur or business owner, you will find that their heightened resilience and “never say die” attitude is cast in stone.
They are focused singly on winning not on failing. They also value a balance in life so having fun and playing are just as important as work. More than anything, entrepreneurs have made work out of their hobby. I often hear them say “I am being paid for my hobby” which is a cool concept as their level of enjoyment is immense and they definitely know how to reduce anxiety with hobbies. This is what employees need to understand if they would like to heighten productivity.
Having a hobby eradicates the need for stress management and reduces anxiety, not the other way around
Sylvia is a qualified Neuro Linguistic Programming (NLP) Master Trainer. She started her business in Sydney and is now based in Singapore.