The Mental Benefits of Spending Time on Your Hobbies

woman smiling and holding paintbrush to canvas

By Sara Khaki

A divorce will leave you with a thousand questions.

  • Why did this happen?
  • Who am I now?
  • How will I move on?
  • What comes next?

These questions can be valuable, but if they take up too much time and space in your head, then that energy will become destructive. That’s when dysfunctional behaviors like overspending, disordered eating, and substance abuse pop up. I’ve seen this before with clients who look for any escape they can find to forget their circumstances and mask their pain.

Fortunately, there are other, healthier ways to move on from a divorce and get yourself out of that vicious cycle. One of my favorites is exploring new and old hobbies. A hobby isn’t an escape from your life, but it is a safe space where you can put your negative thoughts aside and truly enjoy yourself. Whether you love baking, scrapbooking, woodworking, rock climbing, running, or collecting, indulging in a hobby will help you breathe after hours, days, or months of drowning in unanswered questions.

January is National Hobby Month, and it seems only fitting because this month also has the highest divorcee rate of any throughout the year. It’s almost poetic that in a time of so much difficulty, the calendar also reminds us to do something productive and healthy. Your hobbies are the perfect outlet to turn your post-divorce energy into a creative experience rather than a destructive one!

One of the best things about a hobby is that, unlike the emotional divorce process, it has a clear beginning and end. When you bake a batch of cookies or play a tennis match, you know you’re finished when the desserts are cooling on the table or when you win 2 points ahead of your opponent. Not only is the process fun, but it’s also satisfying to finish it successfully.

Even if you aren’t facing a divorce, you could probably benefit from the creative outlet of a hobby. Divorce is just one of many situations that cause us to inflict guilt, shame, and emotional damage on ourselves. Believe me, I’ve been there! When I’m struggling with negative thoughts, I push myself to do something I enjoy like reading, running, practicing yoga, or spending time with my kids.

When I play dolls or Barbies with my daughter, I always get lost in her imaginary world, and before I know it, my problems are reduced to pulling on a doll’s tiny shirt or organizing a tea set for a party of imaginary friends. The same thing happens when I read an autobiography — I get so sucked into the character’s life that I can’t resist doing more research and completely geeking out over their story. Sometimes I have so much fun that I surprise even myself!

This new year, I have a challenge for you: Take the energy you’ve been wasting looking for answers and channel it into something you love. Find more time for yourself and your hobbies this year, either indulging in old ones or exploring new ones. No matter where you are in the divorce process — or even if you’re not divorcing at all — I promise you’ll see positive results.

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