Hobby ruts are a result of your hobbies not matching your current needs, and given the extent to which life as we know it has changed as a result of the pandemic, it’s very much possible your personal-fulfillment needs have changed. So, how can you know if you’re in a hobby rut? Kimberly Lucht, a New York City-based life coach, suggests that if you notice an activity not exciting you, to pause and ask yourself: “Does doing this make me feel anxious or at ease?” and “Did the anticipation of doing this activity bring me more joy than angst?”
If those answers are “anxious” and “no,” respectively, there’s good news: Lucht says there are four types of hobbies to explore: physical, cerebral, creative, and community or service-oriented. Below, find a breakdown of the four types of hobbies, then guidance on how to implement what you need into your own leisure time (if you have any of that to speak of, that is).
4 types of hobbies to explore, to help you practice self care that actually fulfills you, according to Lucht.
Active hobbies like dancing, yoga, and hiking help us get out of our mind and into our bodies, which is imperative if we want to feel good on the daily.
Cerebral activities like sudoku, reading, and puzzles can help another part of our minds by activating our concentration. And that can definitely prove helpful for, say, being able to maintain focus during a three-hour Zoom meeting.
Engaging in creative activities like writing, painting, singing, or cooking may provide for a sense of accomplishment. Think about how you’ll feel upon finally perfecting a non-droopy soufflé or a stage-worthy Shakira impression, for a couple of examples.
Community-driven hobbies like book clubs, helping out at a soup kitchen, or virtually tutoring helps you engage with others socially… even at a distance.
How to decide what types of hobbies are currently right for you
If you’re not sure what kind of hobby you want practice, there’s no need to stress. To figure out where to start, sit quietly, listen to your mind and body, and then experiment—across several categories, ideally.
That’s because Lucht contends that having hobbies across multiple or all of the categories can not only be fun, but can also contribute to keeping the mind, body, and spirit healthy and fulfilled. (Try thinking about your hobbies as you would a balanced nutrition plan.) This isn’t to say that you must have a hobby that satisfies each of the categories, of course, but it is a component to consider during your self check-in, because ultimately, a balanced slate of hobbies may help you feel generally fulfilled.
So, introspect about what kind of fulfillment you may feel is missing and which type of associated hobby might be right for you. When you find something that makes you forget about time and get into a flow state, that’s how you’ll know that you are doing the kind of hobby that will fulfill you the most. “This feeling of timelessness helps your mind wash away any anxiety or mental debris that keeps your thoughts running in circles, so the more in flow something makes you feel, the better it is for your mental and physical state,” Lucht says.
Research backs up this notion, providing evidence of lowered blood pressure and cortisol levels as well as increased focus in participants who engaged in both physically demanding and low-movement leisure activities for extended periods of time. But even if you don’t have huge swaths of time to dedicate to a hobby—new or old—finding an enjoyable way to spend short windows is hugely important for your well-being.
“You can’t pour from an empty cup,” says Aimee Daramus, PsyD, a licensed clinical psychologist “If you need to, look for a hobby that can be done in five minutes or less throughout the day.” That might mean doing a short workout video, one row of knitting, watching a five minute YouTube video instead of an hour-long documentary, or doing one quick lesson on a language app while waiting in line at the grocery store. It’s important to find time to do something that “reminds you that you matter,” she says.
And, as a reminder, what works for you now might not be what worked for you last year—and that’s okay. So if you’re not feeling drawn to your half-completed knitting project right now, give yourself a break. “It’s okay to let it go for a while and let your intuition guide you back when you’re ready,” Lucht says. “Distance makes the heart grow fonder, even with your hobbies.”
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