Mallory Welsh, LCSW

I work with many clients who struggle to give time for themselves, such as doing some self care by implementing one of their favorite hobbies, due to their busy professional life. My job as their clinical therapist is to help the client better understand why they are not allowing themselves to have their “me” time and possible coping mechanisms to carve back time in for themselves. Sometimes clients haven’t allowed themselves to participate in their hobbies for so long due to their professional life, that they have forgotten what it even is they truly enjoy outside of work.

The interesting fact I point out to clients is that participating in their hobbies not only decrease their stress and/or depression they could be experiencing at their job, but it also increases their productivity. I recently read an article that touched on this very topic from Fast Company, “How hobbies can improve your happiness and productivity at work” by author Aytekin Tank.

Below are some key points from Tank’s article that discusses the benefits of having hobbies and also how to rediscover your hobbies.

  • What exactly are the benefits of having hobbies? Tank discusses they can actually make us more competitive in the work place. Physiology professor Root-Bernstein studied the effects of having hobbies for 40 male scientists for over 20 years. Professor Root-Bernstein found the most successful scientists were those that were more likely to engage in hobbies that were imaginative, hands on activities, music, and art. It is also noted that different hobbies can provide different positive outcomes. For example, those that did doodling improves memory by 29%. Those that read books have more activity in their brain associated with language and intelligence. Creative hobbies have been shown to increase problem solving capabilities. Lastly, hobbies such as running increased mental performance and cognition.

Clearly, there is evidence shown that having hobbies to be incredibly beneficial for people in the workplace! What if you don’t quite know what your hobbies are?

Below are some key questions to ask yourself to get you started!

  • What were meaningful childhood hobbies? When I talk to children and ask them what they like to do for fun, they give me immediate responses from riding bikes, reading, drawing, singing, dancing, and the list goes on. Thinking of what you once enjoyed as a child is a very good starting place to remember what it is that truly brings you joy today as an adult.
  • Tap into a new part of your brain. Maybe attempt to tap into a part of your brain that you don’t typically use during your day to day. This could look like tapping into some dancing, music, sports, strategic games like chess, scrabble, or sudokus, playing an instrument, meditating, or learning a new language.
  • Find something that you lose track of time. Find an activity that you enjoy so much that you almost lose track of time because you are fully immersed into it. Maybe it is running, cooking, or writing. Not only will it be something to get your mind off of work, but it will also give your brain to have time to switch from doing work all day long, which in result will help you be able to perform better at your job, simply due to allowing your brain to have the ability to do something else.

If you are currently struggling with finding your hobbies or passions, it may be a good idea to connect with one of our skilled counselors at Symmetry Counseling today. You can contact them at 312-578-9990 to set up an appointment.