November // Hobbies

Another tactic I used when dealing with the height of my anxiety was taking on a hobby to distract myself. Working from home during the winter of 2020 felt like a terrible loop. I would wake up, work, escape to walk my dog, doom scroll, sleep, and then repeat. I read online that taking on small hobbies can help with mental health. But how? I read -

“Even if you feel as though you’re failing in other areas of your life, an activity that you can master during your down time can provide a sense of accomplishment.” Source 

“One study found that those who engage in physical leisure activities for at least 20 minutes once a week are less susceptible to fatigue.

Other research found that enjoyable activities performed during leisure time were associated with lower blood pressure, total cortisol, waist circumference, and body mass index, and perceptions of better physical function. Such activities were also correlated with higher levels of positive psychosocial states and lower levels of depression and negative effect.” Source

Anxiety can lead to high-stress levels that can affect your mental and physical well-being. We need activities that bring us joy and feel rewarding that we can do throughout the week.

I feel like if you take on a hobby to help with anxiety, it shouldn't be something you want to monetize (at first.) Because then you're measuring your success against outside forces (such as sales, likes, views, etc.) when you should be measuring your joy. One hobby(ish) I've adopted from my mother that I've been doing for over a decade is journaling. When I had an anxiety attack, instead of letting the thoughts bounce around my head, I wrote them down instead. The relief I felt after I picked up journaling again took me by surprise. When times were really hard, I would write down everything I was thinking, read over it and then I would tear the page out and tear it up/throw it away. I know it's good to look back at hard times and realize you've come out on the other side - but to me, it felt great to face my thoughts head-on, be vulnerable with myself and then move forward.

Not all hobbies need to take a lot of effort. Another thing I started doing (like many others) when my thoughts were racing was puzzles. I felt accomplished completing small pieces of the puzzle every other day until it was complete. It also was a wonderful distraction from the doom scrolling I was doing on social media.

The best thing about participating in a hobby is that they don't have to rely on skill. You don't necessarily need to be good at a hobby or skillset to benefit from it. Although you can paint, cook, or exercise, you can also do other things like people-watch, dig for new music, read a book or collect something.

My number 1 hobby? second-hand shopping ;) I could spend hours and days thrifting at a time. Something about looking through the endless racks for treasures makes me feel calm. When I started thrifting in high school (when there was a lot more vintage), it finally clicked that I could be an individual. I no longer worried about walking into class and wearing the same outfit as someone else. Even as my income grows, I know I will always be someone who thrifts! The photos here are from when I visited my mother in Ohio and we went to this lovely vintage shop called Sweet Lorain. 

I wanted to highlight hobbies this month because we're about to hit the holiday season, and we may be too busy to focus on ourselves. I'm going through this heavily now because I took on a new job after not working for a couple of months. So now I'm trying to balance my hobby (this blog!) with working.

Although it's a little painful, I'm currently experimenting with waking up earlier in the morning - so I have time to myself vs. waiting until after work when I'm tired. It's also very beneficial because I'm up with the sun and have more time to experience sunlight during the day. Another hobby I love doing is yoga. I don't do anything intense, just 10 minutes every morning before work. It not only clears my mind, but I'm also stretching!

With social media being all about monetizing and documenting our every move, I hope you take time to have something that you do only for yourself ;) That brings you joy and pleasure. Until next time <3