All work and no play makes Jack (and Jill) a dull boy (and girl)! In fact, it’s a little more serious than that – without some form of relaxation our high-pressure, fast paced modern lifestyle can lead us into a spiral of dangerously high stress levels that can have a huge impact in our long-term health. While we may feel obligated to keep our noses to the corporate grindstone 24/7, it is essential that we put a little time aside for relaxing hobbies to ensure that we don’t face the trauma of ‘burn out’.
Relaxing hobbies are a way to switch off from everyday life, the responsibilities of our jobs and even (dare we suggest it) get away from the computer for a while! From collecting teapots to mountain biking, horse riding and gardening to coasteering or knitting, hobbies allow us to switch off for a while and enjoy a bit of ‘me time’.
Passive Hobbies vs. Active Hobbies
Active hobbies can be anything from swimming and surfing through to riding a motorcycle, rock climbing or going to the gym.
Passive hobbies can include collecting things, genealogy and an interest in local history. A passive hobby includes the act of actually going out and tracking down a rare porcelain figurine, for example, or a Troika vase.
Before we are going to share some of the most relaxing hobbies, there is one question that needs to be answered.
Does Watching TV Count?
While watching TV could be regarded as a relaxing hobby, it doesn’t have the same effect as a more challenging activity has, and it certainly doesn’t tax you physically or mentally. The physical aspect of a hobby has been shown in numerous studies to be extremely important to our well being, and is key in the release of the feel-good hormone endorphin. This brings stress levels down to more normal levels and gives the body a chance to repair some of the damage that prolonged exposure to stress can cause.
Getting out of our computer chairs or off the couch and into the fresh air can fight off fatigue, depression and even health conditions such as high cholesterol and obesity.
Great Relaxing Hobbies that Help You to Kill Stress
Pottering About in the Garden
A relaxing hobby that crosses over between active and passive is one of the world’s most popular pastimes – gardening. If you’re lucky enough to have a garden then getting out and pottering around, pulling up the weeds and digging over the vegetable plot can be one of the greatest relaxing hobbies there is, as well as keeping you physically active.
Exploring Our History
Every country has a wealth of historical sites, monuments and houses to visit, and learning more about your local history can be a great way to usher in a complete change of scenery in your life on a regular basis. It can be incredibly relaxing to wander around a rambling country house or ruined castle and let your imagination run riot, especially if you’re a fan of historical novels or swashbuckling tales. Switching off from the everyday and escaping into a completely different environment is a great way to bring those stress levels right down.
Not only is yoga good for you physically, it’s ideal for combating stress too. Gentle enough to be done by anyone, regardless of age or current physical fitness, yoga gives you the time you need to stop for a while and focus on yourself and your own physical, mental and spiritual needs, rather than on what other people want from you. Yoga has been used for centuries to instill a sense of calm and serenity, so it’s not surprising that it’s one of the world’s most popular relaxing hobbies.
Here is a relaxing yoga exercise to start with.
You can’t move for cookery programmes on television these days, but instead of watching someone else do it, why not get into the kitchen and start rattling some pots and pans yourself? Cooking can be incredibly therapeutic and relaxing hobby, and not only that – you also (hopefully!) end up with something delicious to share with the family, even if it’s ‘a bit crispy’ around the edges!
One of the most relaxing hobbies, even in urban environments, is horse riding – and no, you don’t have to own a horse to do it. There are plenty of riding stables up and down the country, and the physical challenge of riding a horse gets those endorphins flowing. The connection we feel with an animal such as a horse has also been shown to dramatically reduce stress in all age groups.
Hobbies, whether it’s an hour’s yoga or a gallop across the downs, a wander around a country house or an afternoon’s baking, are our way of saying ‘this is my time, free of responsibilities, deadlines and pressure.’ Not only is it a pleasurable way to spend our time away from the daily 9-5, but it’s essential for our well being too.
Photo: Richard Roche