Work On Your Wellness: What's Your Hobby?
Given the long hours they put in, it's not surprising that IT professionals have little time for pursuits that they love and would benefit from. It's typical to slip into some passive purposeless diversion such as watching TV at the end of each stressful workday. Most are too exhausted to engage in a creative hobby, such as playing an instrument, painting, creative writing, or drawing, all of which require active participation.
Professionals who are not able to devote time and energy to doing something they enjoy, however, may be losing out. Pursuing a hobby might just be what stressed minds need. It is believed to rejuvenate the mind. Focusing on an activity that you enjoy takes your mind off all the pressure and problems at work, puts you in a good mood, gives you a sense of satisfaction, and can boost confidence.
Benefits of a Hobby
A number of studies conducted in different parts of the world have shown that engaging in a hobby or creative endeavour regularly can make you happier, healthier, and even enhance productivity. According to a post on www.connecthealth.org.au, research undertaken by the Australian Psychological Society demonstrated that spending time on a hobby contributed positively to stress management.
Another study by a health psychologist, Matthew Zawadzki, at the University of California, Merced, found that concentrating on a hobby can relieve stress, enable you to focus better, and make you a happier person. Mind and body are related. A hobby needn't be a physical activity, such as gardening, rock climbing, or dancing, to do your health good.
Studies have found that even making music, art, knitting, and other physically undemanding hobbies can make people healthier. Because one's mental state affects bodily functions. A happy, positive, and relatively relaxed individual is likely to eat and sleep better.
Choose a Hobby
Most IT workers have to cope with long workdays, so it makes sense to identify a hobby that you don't have to struggle to find time for. You want a creative activity that you can manage to do a few times a week, ideally.
Choose something that you love, have an interest in, are capable of doing though you don't have to be very good at it, and is accessible in your circumstances. What's important is that you really want to do it. Unlike work projects, you're not under any pressure to meet performance targets.
If achieving a tangible outcome is important to you, then you might want to take up an activity that is focused on producing or creating. This could be something like gardening, writing, pottery, or puzzles — anything that yields an end-result. Whatever you choose, your hobby needs to be sustainable, something that fits your ability and circumstances.
Quite often, people have hobbies that are not related to their work. You don't want to be thinking about your work and all its attendant stresses in your free time. A hobby should enable you to detach yourself from your job, relax, and focus on exploring your creativity. If you are an outdoor person, you might prefer gardening, rock climbing, or nature walking and hiking.
Another point to consider while deciding on the right hobby, is companionship. Do you like to be by yourself when pursuing a creative activity, or would you rather engage in something that involves others, such as team sports or performing in a band of musicians.
Don't Overdo It
The right amount of time to devote to a hobby differs from person to person. You don't want to be spending so much time on your creative endeavour that you fail to meet deadlines at work or neglect your family, friends, and other commitments.
If long hours at work as well as family responsibilities make it unviable to spend several hours every week on a hobby, then don't fret. You can benefit even from devoting a little quality time a few days a week. In a Harvard Business Review article, Gaetano DiNardi, director of demand generation at Nextiva in February 2019, refers to a study that found that just 45 minutes spent creating art can improve an individual's confidence and capacity to accomplish tasks.
According to the same article, hobbies can help people perform better in their professional roles. He believes a creative pursuit can lift one above the din of company goals, business metrics, and target dates, and give one the leeway to explore one's emotions and rekindle creativity. Creative workers help companies come up with innovative ideas that have the promise to interest potential customers.
Practice, Not Perfection
No, it's not necessary to be adept at whatever creative hobby you decide to take on. It's a hobby after all, not a profession. It's important, however, to choose something that you really like to do, not something that requires you to push yourself.
When you do something solely because you want to, you immerse yourself in the process of creating or discovering something. You're under no pressure to produce a professional outcome. The value lies in the positive emotions generated by creative activity, sense of fulfilment that comes from making something original, and the confidence that grows as you progress with your creative endeavour.
Many business heads, as well as career advisers, believe that pursuing a hobby helps workers manage stress and give themselves the space to realize their creativity. According to an article by Kevan Lee posted on www.fastcompany.com, a creative hobby can make employees more productive.
He refers to a study by Dr. Kevin Eschleman and his colleagues at San Francisco State University, which evaluated the influence of creative pursuits on more than 400 workers. The results of the study led Dr. Eschleman to suggest that it might be beneficial for organizations to encourage their employees to engage in creative hobbies as a way to recover from work-related stress.
According to Dr. Eschleman, creative activities might enable professionals to develop a sense of control and discover their creative ability. Even if you're not self-actualizing or improving your ability to perform on the job, however, a hobby is still beneficial. The most important thing, after all, is that you're spending time doing something you enjoy, and not thinking constantly about work.