Our family was at a group campout and some women were hanging out working on their crochet projects. They asked if I’d like to learn, and I politely declined, declaring that my schedule was too busy to take on yet something else.
I was too busy chauffeuring the kids to camps, lessons, school and sports. I was too busy dealing with house projects and the day-to-day grind. I was too busy to slow my mind down and give it a rest from the constant deluge of worry, doubts, planning, and list making.
That was the problem.
Having my mind crammed with worries and stress is exactly why I needed to engage in a hobby.
Then one day my daughter declared she wanted to learn how to knit. Okay, then. I went to the craft store and bought cheap straight knitting needles, some cheap yarn, and a basic book on how to knit. Not for her – for me. I knew if she was going to learn, I would need to be able to show her the basics.
I read and read some more. Then I tried the basics, redoing practice swatches over and over and over until a section of yarn was unusable. I’d cut off that section and move to a fresh one. Then I would watch YouTube videos, trying different techniques until things finally started to click.
Costs of a hobby
Of course, there are costs associated with many hobbies. If you like skiing, learning to fly an airplane, or traveling, you’ll be spending a lot of money. Even refinishing furniture or knitting has expenses associated with them.
Then there are hobbies that can have very little overhead such as reading, writing, and hiking.
But I’ve become a believer that you need to engage in some sort of hobby. I’m not going to say “you should only spend 5% of your income on hobbies” or some such thing. If your bills are being paid, your savings goals are being met, and you have food to eat, then any remaining money is likely fine to devote to your hobbies. You can even budget for your hobbies. If your hobby is straining your finances, then something needs to give.
When you do budget for your hobby, consider related costs such as membership fees, entrance fees for events, and maybe even the drinks or meals you have with friends after that round of golf or while knitting at the brewpub. Are you categorizing those expenses as hobby related, or as food and miscellaneous? Neither is inherently right or wrong, you just need to be aware.
Benefits of engaging in hobbies
While I was learning how to knit, I focused solely on working out what I was doing. My mind didn’t have the bandwidth to figure out how to both read the chart, execute stitches with a consistent tension, and worry about everything else that normally distracted me. Engaging in the hobby shut out other distractions and gave my mind a break, as well as a challenge.
Whether you have a hobby that is a craft, sports, travel, gardening, or collecting, it has the benefit of engaging your mind so you don’t have time to think about anything else. At times, it can be almost meditative.
The change in focus and the participation in another activity outside of your work helps you cope with stress. If you’ve had a bad day at work (or a bad week), you can retreat to your hobby for a bit, unwind and focus on something you enjoy.
Another benefit to hobbies is you can also form new social connections. A knitting group might meet at the local brewpub once a month. Collectors often put on shows, woodworkers may craft some charity toys or have a group craft fair. And of course, you may see the same people over and over at sporting events.
You may even get or stay in great shape if your hobby involves physical activity. If you are a crafter and your home is overflowing with projects, you could make a little side income selling a few pieces.
Getting back into the groove
My daughter did learn the basics of knitting, created a small project, and then moved on to other things. I invested in better needles and continued to learn different techniques.
I will admit, I’ve let my hobbies fall by the wayside lately. Some, I’ve given up and need to sell the equipment. Others, I need to start again. Yes, it takes time, but it is time my mind needs to stretch, grow, and relax. And that is why we all need a hobby.
What hobbies do you enjoy and why?