Get a hobby! You'll
have fun and feel great, too
Calling all couch potatoes! If you ever thought about
taking on a hobby, it may mean more to you than just another way
to spend your free time. Hobbies can be a healthy way of challenging
your body and mind.
While working as a newspaper reporter during his mid-20s,
Dan Collins of Baltimore, thought fencing would make a good story.
Now, 13 years later, the sport has become his hobby and a major
part of his life. He began by enrolling in a fencing class at his
local YMCA. After he finished that class and his newspaper story,
he enrolled in another class. To this day, he remains good friends
with his first instructor, and is a member of the Chesapeake Fencing
"One of the reasons I continued, first and foremost,
is not only because of the athletic competition, [but] the social
element. It's a lot of fun for me," Collins says. When he moved
to Denver, he didn't know anyone, but he made his first connection
through fencing. Not only has fencing sharpened Collins' social
skills, but it gives him a good cardiovascular and strength building
and a mental workout. "It's a hobby for me in multiple ways," Collins
When Sally Veillette of Seattle fell ill, she began
to reevaluate her lifestyle, and found relief with alternative medicines.
As part of her recovery, she chose hobbies that fueled her spirit.
She realized exercising outside in nature, instead of in a gym,
was more spiritually fulfilling. An outdoor enthusiast, Veillette
has climbed Mount Kilimanjaro in Africa for a fund-raiser, and mountains
in the Northwest.
It "helps more in a sense of feeling more connected
to life. Nature provides fodder for your spirit and connects you
with life's natural lessons," Veillette maintains. "Climbing Kilimanjaro
I feel was absolutely the right thing to do, it was aligned with
Choosing hobbies that you enjoy doing can be spiritually
and socially rewarding. It may just keep your health in check, too.
The value of a hobby? Priceless
Experts say that hobbies keep us healthy. Patricia
Farrell, a clinical psychologist, asserts that people underestimate
the value of a hobby. "Anytime we hear the word hobby, we assume
it's a frivolous hobby," Farrell says. "I think hobbies are a way
that we protect our health."
But remember, hobbies are good in moderation. As long
as you don't let an activity intrude in your life, or become obsessed
with it, hobbies can be food for your body and mind. A healthy hobby
is anything that you enjoy doing, and not something that someone
has directed you toward, Farrell explains.
When choosing a healthy hobby Farrell says:
- Decide on the time and money you want to
- Explore all options. Find out what you like.
- Try it out. You may discover latent skills.
Hobbies not only work the physical side of you, but
they can stimulate your mental side.
What can happen when you have just too much idle
time on your hands? Like the plant in the "Little Shop of Horrors,"
your mind says "feed me" when you are bored. "People don't realize
the power of our mind. When you don't feed your brain, the brain
will attack you," says Alan Caruba, founder of the Boring Institute
in Maplewood, N.J.
Caruba says people tend to deal with boredom in self-destructive
ways because they don't know how to channel the energy, and hobbies
are one of the key factors toward overcoming and avoiding boredom.
"The combination of hobbies plus joining a group is virtually an
insurance policy against boredom," Caruba maintains.
He began the Boring Institute as a spoof on celebrities,
sports and politics. Caruba soon became flooded with responses from
people all over the world who were experiencing boredom. The institute's
handbook, "Beating Boredom" stresses hobbies as a vital part of
overcoming it. July is designated Anti-Boredom month by the Institute.
Don't just stand there, do something! Feed your mind
and body with a hobby that suits you.
-- Updated: May 1, 2003