The headline is true – crafts can make you calm. In fact, not only do crafts make you calm, but hobbies in general are good for your health! Let’s discuss.
When life is unsustainable
Burnout is a real thing. It is not something you can manage through or toughen up against. Think about what is happening in your life right now. Maybe you feel like you are withdrawing from friends and responsibilities – isolating yourself. Or after months of battling stress at work, you find yourself procrastinating on completing projects and tasks. Are you going in late or leaving early? In general are you short tempered with those around you at work and / or home?
But there is a difference between stress and burnout. Think of stress as overwhelm and burnout as a drain. Stress is the piling on. Demands on you may look like taking care of kids and parents or covering another person’s job during a hiring freeze. Or the pressure of weeks of daily carpooling that never lets you have a moment to yourself. With stress, you still feel there is hope to find a system, route, or process that can improve things.
Burnout, on the other hand, is empty of that hope. It is the drain of mental exhaustion. Often people who are burned out don’t always notice when it happens.
Here is a snapshot of the differences between stress and burnout:
The good news is that hobbies can aid recovery from both stress and burnout. Let me show you how.
How hobbies make for sustainable productivity
It does not have to be crafts that make you calm. Maybe it is music or gardening or coin collecting or movies. Let’s define hobbies as small pockets of respite where you can literally heal and restore your mental and physical self. When you partake in a hobby of any kind, you are improving various aspects of your mental well-being. Here are just a few:
- Higher levels of positive psycho-social states
- Increased life satisfaction
- Improved life engagement
- Better quality of sleep
- Enhanced exercise outcomes
I hear what you are saying – you don’t have time for a hobby. But consider me your wise older sister as I bluntly ask you this: Sure, but do you have time for the illness that all that stress is going to cause you?
Because that is where too much stress and too little leisure will take you. Here are some of the ways hobbies can impact your physical well-being:
- Lower blood pressure
- Reduce total cortisol
- Smaller waist circumference
- Decreased body mass index
Taking up a hobby does not have to be a huge investment of time and money. If you want to pick up a potentially life saving hobby, keep reading.
Where to go from here
Here are three suggestions of where you can start today.
- Start small. Make a list of what you might like to do. A simple list on the notes app on your phone will do. If you see your neighbor rolling out for a bike ride, and you think that might be fun, add it to the list. While sitting in your car during your child is at dance lessons, you see a notice for an adult dance class. If this sounds interesting, add it to your list. You don’t have to sign up, just make your list.
- Notice what you notice. I believe the universe (God, your Higher Power, whatever name you choose), will put things in your path to make good decisions easier. If you see guitar lessons advertised three different places maybe that is something that you should pay attention to. If you get invited to a Zoom painting class with your girlfriends right after you put “Learn to paint” on your list, it is not a coincidence. Notice what you start to notice. And notice how it makes you feel.
- Take stock of what you already have. I had a client who started taking online piano lessons because her kids’ abandoned keyboard was sitting in the corner of the living room. She had been frustrated for years at their lack of playing and considered the keyboard clutter. When we were exploring what she might like to do for a hobby, music kept coming up. I could see the light bulb go on when she realized the “junk” in the corner was actually useful! Look around – there are probably art supplies, fabric leftovers, sporting goods, random canned goods you could make into a creative recipe, and more.
Take time to notice and make your list. Let me know how it goes. We can connect on social media or in the comments below to celebrate successes or trouble shoot where you might be stuck. Let’s work together on creating a life you don’t need to escape.