Wednesday, March 29, 2006

Reasons to Indulge in Your Hobbies

I will admit that I don't get to do my favorite hobbies as much as I used to anymore. What with three kids, a part-time job as a freelance writer, being on the PTO at my children's school, taking my kids to and from their after school activities, helping my mother who has rheumatoid arthritis, and working around my husband's schedule as a firefighter, I don't have much time for myself. And when I do, I often find that I want to catch up on some of my hobbies and unfinished projects, but I am too tired or I just want to curl up with a book or veg in front of the TV for a little while.

However, I do notice when I have not had the chance to take some time for myself and do one of my hobbies, I find myself getting frustrated with how busy my life is and less satisfied with the things I am doing. I have a ton of hobbies (and unfinished projects), and I like to learn new ones, as well. I like to scrapbook and make handcrafted cards, cross stitch, read (my favorite!), sew, and bake. I also like to learn new things, for instance, I learned how to braid fabric to make rugs and table placemats.

I am sure that there are many of you that also like to indulge in hobbies but find that you don't have the time or energy to do it. I can relate, believe me. But I have also found that if I don't make the time to do these things, I just don't feel as good about anything.

Of course, every parenting site, magazine and woman's advocate out there goes on and on about the importance of finding time for yourself, and I agree. But I also think women should take it a step further. I think we need to take it beyond the perfect bubble bath or lazy afternoon spent doing nothing much. While I agree that this kind of relaxation has a place, I also think that if we do too much of that and ignore our talents and hobbies, those few precious times that take for ourselves won't mean as much. Whenever I am relaxing, there is always that little voice in the back of my head reminding me of the 101 things I should be doing or need to be doing or promised to do last week and haven't gotten done. But when I am immersed in a hobby I enjoy, I find that the little nagging voice in the back of my head quiets right down! That is how I know that taking time to do my favorite hobbies is a really good thing for me, because that little voice is not bothering me, so she must enjoy it, too.

I always find that I am refreshed and re-energized after spending an afternoon on one of my hobbies, or even just a couple of hours. I have this incredible sense of satisfaction because I can look at the results of my work and know that the time I spent on my cross stitch picture, children's scrapbooks or loaves of fragrant bread cooling on the counter and know that it was time well spent. I love that feeling, and I think that taking time for your hobbies should be something that is a priority, instead of something that we women do when we have nothing else pressing in our lives. It really is good for us!

Not to mention that the projects and hobbies that we do are one small way to live forever. Those things that you make will be gifts for family, friends and neighbors, who will remember that you took the time to make something, and in the memories of others, we become immortal. I know that I have things that my grandmother, mom and sister made for me, and I love looking at and using these things because it reminds me of the people who made them. It is especially important to me now that my grandmother has passed away. The many things she made me, from an afghan to a little Christmas stocking are all precious to me and fill me with thoughts of her.

Another reason we should take time for our hobbies is that there is actually scientific proof that when we are engaged in something we enjoy, our blood pressure goes down, our brain activity is increased and our bodies release tons of those great hormones like endorphins so that our entire body is enjoying the activity! Now if I could just get my body to lose five pounds whenever I sandwiched some hobby time into my life, not only would I be getting to all those unfinished projects, I would be svelte and skinny at the same time! Wouldn't that be great?! Anything that is good for your health and overall well-being is something that we should indulge in more often. Stress is something we all face, and I can't think of a better way to deal with the daily stress in my life. So this is another good reason to not feel even the littlest bit guilty about doing your hobbies.

Hobbies also keep your mind sharp. If you spend most of your day with you kids, or even if you spend most of your day at work, it seems that our minds can get a little numb from dealing with kids and paperwork and about a zillion other things! There are studies that have shown that by doing things like hobbies and also learning new things, you can keep you mind razor sharp and in good repair. This is especially important for people who are older, or those that have a history of Alzheimer's in their family. Doing everything you can to challenge and stimulate your mind will help us ward off dementia and other types of cognitive problems in our later years.

Signing up for a class that teaches a new skill for a hobby you already have or taking a class for a hobby that is new is a great way to force yourself to make time for hobbies. Plus, you get the added benefit of being able to socialize with other women who have the same kinds of interests as you, and it is also a great way to catch up with friends. I find that signing up for the monthly Saturday scrapbook crop time makes it so I can spend time with friends I don't see every day and also to meet new people.

So ladies, dust off those projects, sign up for a class on something that looks interesting, and quit feeling guilty about your hobbies. They are good for your health, and your state of mind. They provide a lot of satisfaction and are a great way to de-stress yourself and your life. Spend a little time doing something you love so that you have the energy and zest for the rest of your life activities that keep you busy. Taking time for yourself should never be at the bottom of your list. Besides, think about how much you are going to enjoy that beautiful quilt you have finally finished next winter as you snuggle under it with a cup of tea and a really good book.

No comments: