Hobbies and Leisure Activities
Hobbies and leisure activities play such a vital role within our everyday lives. All individuals possess unique, wild and wonderful hobbies that make us who we are and different to others. Recently I have been experimenting with a new hobby for myself – playing Minecraft! I’ve found this to be rather enjoyable and a good way to immerse myself in a new, albeit virtual world and escape reality for periods of time. I’m also hoping to soon reignite a past hobby of painting, which will allow me to express some creative thought, license and freedom.
Genuine observations often show that activities and tasks a person enjoys they often excel at and possess a natural aptitude for. The same pattern can also be seen vice versa. Upon recognising these hobbies this got me thinking about why hobbies are so important and the positive personal benefits they can bring.
Involving imagination, creativity and visual thinking (Pillay, 2017) possessing hobbies and ‘leisure activities’ are a vital part of human life. The stresses, strains and unpredictability of everyday life often lead to stress, fatigue and feeling mentally and physically drained. To help combat this, research and studies haveemphasised the importance of factoring in and finding time to incorporate hobbies into one's day. Whether it be watching a guilty pleasure TV programme, baking, gardening, gaming, reading adventure novels or simply listening toa favourite tune on repeat, immersing oneself in hobbies can help provide pleasure, enjoyment and ‘mental respite’ from our worries, concerns and problems that can overwhelm (Nemo, 2020). Interestingly, it has been discussed that simply looking forward to participating in a hobby is enough to gain emotional benefits. Subsequently, partaking in our preferred voluntary leisure activities can help increase psychological wellbeing, happiness and reduce negative emotions, such as anxiety and rumination.
Referred to as the ‘spotlight’,Dasmohapatra (2023) used this metaphorical term to stress the crucial nature of hobbies. The spotlight is turned on and focused on us when we are expected to perform and achieve results, such as at work or in an exam. Too much exposure to this spotlight without any respite or recuperation time can lead to unwanted negative emotions including stress, burnout and frustration. But by participating in hobbies and finding time to relax, unwind and loose oneself in the time and space of a leisure activity can help reduce this sense of mounting pressure.
In addition to psychological wellbeing, studies have identified that hobbies can also benefit one's physical wellbeing. Research has indicated that participating in enjoyable hobbies and leisure activities can help keep one's brain active by keeping neural networks functioning (Epidemiol, 2016). In the long run, this can help with the effects of aging on the body. Moreover, research by Pressman et al (2009) identified that hobbies can be associated with reduced blood pressure, BMI and feelings of depression and increased reports of life satisfaction. Notably this was contributed to allowing one's selftime to recover and restore from stressful events, yielding both psychological and physical benefits. Therefore, engaging and participating in our chosen hobbies can overall increase one's quality of life and overall wellbeing.
Hobbies and leisure activities can be of particular importance to dyslexic individuals within the neurodivergent population. It is widely established that dyslexics possess striking gifts within creative and visual thinking; due to how the brain processes and understands information (Discussing the Dyslexic Brain, 2020). Because of this, hobbies provide an even greater creative spark to ignite the way for dyslexics to express themselves and understand their surroundings in a complicated and often confusing world. Moreover, termed as the ‘secondary symptoms of dyslexia’ (Novita, 2016) it is common for dyslexics to experience high levels of stress, anxiety and other negative emotions due to the impact of their neurodivergence. These work in tandem with the memory, processing and literacy challenges that can be faced by dyslexics. In this way, the respite, ‘reality relief’ and positive emotions generated by enjoyable hobbies can help negate negative thoughts and replace these with more positive and beneficial ones.
As explored and discussed, hobbies are a great tool for generating both psychological and physical benefits to humans. By recognising and turning offone's spotlight, when needed, and allowing ourselves time to relax and recharge via leisure activities and hobbies individuals' overall health, wellbeing and life satisfaction can improve. Hobbies can be of particular importance and highly advantageous to dyslexics, as undertaking hobbies can promote and encourage the creative dyslexic mind and help manage negative emotions related to dyslexia.
Dasmohapatra, T. (2023). The Psychology of Having Hobbies.
Discussing The Dyslexic Brain. (2020). The Creativity Continuum
Epidemiol, J. (2016). Relationship of Having Hobbies and a Purpose in Life With Mortality, Activities of Daily Living, and Instrumental Activities of Daily Living Among Community-Dwelling Elderly Adults.
Nemo, L. (2020). The Psychological Benefits of Picking Up a Hobby.
Novita, S. (2016). Secondary Symptoms of Dyslexia: A Comparison of Self-esteem and Anxiety Profiles of Children with and without Dyslexia. European Journal of Special Needs Education.
Pillay, S. (2017). How Hobbies Impact your Head and Your Heart.
Pressman, S, D et al (2009). Association of Enjoyable Leisure Activities With Psychological and Physical Well-Being.