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The Impact of Hobbies on your Health and Longevity

I came across something today that got me wanting to write this post immediately because my mind was on the run.


I've had many discussions with clients over the years about hobbies. Sadly, a good number of people DON'T really have any. This ranges from young to middle aged to retired folks . The modern day way of living seems to have greatly impacted what is an incredibly powerful element to our overall health and wellbeing.


Let's define a few things that do not constitute a hobby for the purpose of this post shall we:


  • TV (Movies, shows, sports etc...)

  • Social Media & "Doom Scrolling"

  • YouTube "rabbit holes"

  • Work / Career




-I've worked with many people over my career who are workaholics (many of them self-proclaimed workaholics - I simply agree with them).


-I've worked with MANY people past and present who have NO TRUE means of stress management (other than the above list - FYI: Those do not allow you to manage stress, but rather to numb it / push it aside).


-I've worked with MANY people past and present who have no hobbies, but consider work their "hobby" (because they love it - Respectful answer. Though not helpful to your health in it's fullest sense).


Hobbies & our physiology


Some of you clever folks reading this (I know who you are) may be saying, "but 'Coach D' the definition of a hobby (according to the Oxford Dictionnary) is:


An activity done regularly in one's leisure time for pleasure.


With that, why can't my work count if I find pleasure in my work?"


My response: Because you work out of both necessity AND pleasure. You may also be working CONSTANTLY (i.e. the majority of most of your days) rather than in balance with LEISURE time activities. That's not a hobby; but rather work, a career, a job...


Science's response: The human being improves and adapts during RECOVERY in various aspects. This is a big component of sleep: rest, repair and recover. The brain is no different. Have you ever had a big project or problem you've been working on and after a while you're just "stuck". But then the next day or maybe week, after you've stepped away from it, suddenly you find an easy way to "unstuck yourself" or find a solution?? That's because you STEPPED AWAY from what you're doing. That 'break' allowed your brain's neural pathways to develop new synapses / amazing neural connections to help you become more efficient and proficient at what you're doing.


As a musician I can tell you this happens alot for me. I could be stuck on a song for a week or two, just not being able to get the right rhthym or key that works for me. If I leave it for a few days or sometimes week or more, then come back to it, suddenly it clicks very quickly! Because, I allowed myself that time to "take a break" and let my mind do it's thing and adapt/grow/improve.


What's your hobby??


The people I'm close to and those I've worked with over the years who have no hobbies (or have let them go) in favour of our list we mentioned earlier, deal with negative aspects of health that are manifested partially (or completely) due to the fact that leisure hobbies, which promote recovery, creativity, imagination, fun, personal growth and/or learning (outside of work), are minimal or non-existent. It's simply too easy to come home from a long day and crash on the couch for some Netflix and just stare into a screen right?


Hobbies bring us joy.


Hobbies give our minds a "break" from the day-to-day grind of our professional lives.


Hobbies allow us to step away from work we may be passionate with, for a short time, in order to allow that passion to continue to thrive.




The world's most influential leaders understand the importance of "not always being on" or "not always working" and the value of a hobby (or hobbies) when it comes to their health and wellbeing:


  • Richard Branson plays chess

  • Bill Gates plays bridge

  • Jack Dorsey loves to hike

  • Kate Middleton enjoys colouring

  • Tom Hanks collects vintage typewriters

  • Warren Buffet plays the uekele

  • Oprah Winfrey reads


Another example we could use from people at the top of their game in their respective careers are pro athletes. As good as they are in their sports and as much as they practice, play and love their sport, they also have hobbies / other interests that allow them to take their mind away from what they do for a while to promote recovery, maintain passion for what they do and their health:


  • Michelle Wie (LPGA) loves to paint

  • Wayne Gretzky (NHL) played baseball and enjoys golf

  • Jason Hammel (MLB) & David Beckham (FIFA) collect Legos

  • Novak Djokovic (Tennis) practices meditation

  • Lionel Messi (FIFA) plays chess

  • Tim Duncan (NBA) plays Dungeons & Dragons


There is MORE to life than work, and there is more we can do for our deep health than work, exercise and eat well.


CHALLENGE for YOU!


Take a few minutes to think about what YOUR HOBBIES are OR what might you like to try as a new hobby? As my wife Shawna says;


"What's your Zen?

What makes your soul sing?"


Once you have one, a few or a list in mind, plan how/when you can implement it MOST days (if not daily) in the week.


Think of how much more efficiently we'd manage our stress, how our moods would be and many smiles, laughs and warm vibes we'd have in our days if we added more things that create that frequency (another "Shawna-ism").


Think of the power it would bring to whatever it is you're also passionate about (in addition to your hobby). I'm a soccer guy through and through, my entire life. But most years I didn't play soccer in the winter, I transitioned to hockey. And like clockwork, every single year, that first practice seeing the team again, smelling the fresh air and feeling the ball on my foot felt SO AMAZING because I allowed myself that time away from the game. It BOOSTED my love for what I did!


*****

While you think about your challenge, let me leave you with an amazingly powerful poem in my mind. I recently signed up for the "Journal Prompt" weekly email newsletter (from Guelph, ON) that sends a quote, a few journal prompts and some little extras such as this beauty this week:


~Brushstrokes of the Soul~   


In the realm of hobbies, passions come aliveA vibrant canvas, stories to derive. 

With each stroke, a tale unfolds, 

Crafting dreams in the tales it holds.   


In the quiet corners of well-loved books, 

The soul finds solace, in every nook. 

Gardens bloom with colours so fair, 

Hands in soil, tending with care.   


Wood whispers tales as it's gently shaped, 

An artisan's dream, carefully draped. 

The click of needles in a rhythmic dance, 

Creates a masterpiece, a hobby's romance. 


  Here's to pursuits that set hearts free, 

To hobbies and passions that shape our 

glee. 

In journals' pages, these stories reside, 

A testament to passions, forever our guide. 


May your journal embrace hues and tones, 

Of hobbies and passions that are yours alone. 

In every stroke and word, let your heart play,  For in the dance of passions, you find your way. 







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