Health & wellbeing

The power of a hobby

Extracurricular activities can work wonders for your wellbeing.

With work, kids, friends, family and so much else going on in our busy lives, it's easy to wonder where on earth you'd find the time for a hobby.

But science says it may just be worth carving out a couple of hours for a pastime. Here are 5 benefits of finding a hobby you love.

1. Cycle of happiness
A New Zealand study found that spending time being creative could increase feelings of happiness, joy, excitement and enthusiasm the following day. This elevation in wellbeing can then lead to even more creative activity.

2. Feeling good
Whether it’s hitting ‘publish’ on a blog post, putting the finishing touches on a painting or finally nailing a recipe you’ve been perfecting, completing a creative project will give you an instant hit of happiness. This is because that natural sense of pride and satisfaction that comes from completing something we’ve worked hard on triggers a release of the feel-good brain chemical dopamine.

3. Added interest
Having a hobby provides you with something to talk about with other people and adds dimension to your identity. We tend to be drawn to people who are passionate about something, even if it’s not a shared passion, as it can be a source of stories, experience and inspiration for others. Share your interests with others in Connect, using a hashtag, e.g. #gardening or #painting.

4. Stress management
If you’ve had a particularly hard day at work, it’s tempting to crash in front of the TV all evening. While this provides a short-term distraction, it won’t address feelings of stress or low self-confidence. Having a hobby to engage in after work will provide you with the chance to ‘redeem’ yourself, so even if you haven’t had success during the day, you can turn that around by succeeding at your hobby instead.

5. Making connections
A hobby that requires you to get out the house – such as a team sport, art class or volunteering with a local charity – will connect you with other likeminded people. The health benefits of socialising include living longer, improved physical and mental health, and even the potential to lower your risk of dementia.