I went years without really having any hobbies at all. I dreaded the question, “So, what are your hobbies?”, because I felt like I was somehow violating a code of society to admit that I didn’t have any. Maybe this is part of my INTJ-ness, but I always sort of viewed hobbies as being a waste of time. But since really working on cultivating contentment over this past year, I’ve learned that hobbies are actually a very important part of overall happiness.
When chosen wisely, hobbies give you a sense of self. They help you stay connected to who you are. Hobbies can also be a stress relief and provide you with mental breaks that leave you feeling refreshed. Even better, they can give you a sense of accomplishment and pride.
But finding a new hobby can be so daunting. The hardest part for me is that so many hobbies are actually pretty costly or difficult to fit into an already busy schedule. I really enjoy crafts, for example, but making a hobby out of crafting can be so expensive AND take up lots of time. My crafting energy comes in spurts and is usually prompted by some (perceived) necessity rather than an urge to create. Like an empty space on a wall that is begging for a new piece of wall art.
I’ve recently found three hobbies that are a perfect fit for people who, like me, don’t want to spend a ton of money and can’t dedicate long expanses of time to a new hobby. And the best part? These three hobbies are wonderful for stress relief, indulging your need for creativity, and providing yourself with moments of quiet. I sort of think of them as a way to massage the brain and rest the soul.
Three Hobbies that Soothe the Soul
I went to a “Ladies and Letters” class a couple of months ago and fell in love with hand lettering. This class was set up just like those “Wine and Canvas” parties, but instead of the painting portion, we learned how to do a few different styles of hand lettering. Each gal left with a few pieces of hand-lettered art that she created herself. It was a fun way to gather with grown-ups while learning something new.
But you totally don’t have to go to any sort of class to learn how to do this! There are lots of hand-lettering guides and workbooks for beginners to help you get started. And what’s really great is that it isn’t something that takes a long time to learn. Once you get the basic method down for a certain style, you just get better and better with practice.
This is a hobby you can do at almost any time and almost any place. I find myself lettering names or quotes in my planner while on the phone or in the waiting room at the doctor. You can just pull out a piece of paper and letter your favorite quote or song lyric any time you have a spare 3 minutes. And if you get really into it, you can hone your skill enough to be able to create beautiful hand-lettered cards or gifts for loved ones. You could even turn this into a business!
I stumbled across Zentangle by total accident. I was looking for unique hand-drawn art on Etsy and some Zentangle pieces came up in my search results. According to Zentangle.com, “Zentangle is an easy-to-learn, relaxing, and fun way to create beautiful images by drawing structured patterns”. Here’s an example from an Etsy shop.
There are tons resources for getting started. You can follow a tutorial, watch a video, or even buy a book with step-by-step instructions and ideas. The great thing is that you don’t have to be great at it to do it, and despite what you might read elsewhere, you DON’T need any fancy or expensive pens or paper. I draw tangles (the term used for the drawings you create through Zentangle) in the unused squares in my planner, in the borders of my notebooks, or just on a piece of paper while contemplating a new idea at my desk.
Like hand lettering, you can do Zentangle just about anytime and anywhere. And remember how I mentioned I discovered this art on Etsy? If you really enjoy Zentangle and become great at it, you could turn it into a business!
Adult coloring books are ALL. THE. RAGE. And I’m not normally one to jump on the bandwagon, but this one really struck my fancy because I always loved coloring as a kid (even into my teens, I would draw elaborate scenes and color them with pens or markers).
This is a terrific hobby if the first two felt a little too creativity-intense. You can still be super-creative with coloring, but you don’t have to come up with an actual design. So it’s not nearly as intimidating. And yes, you can spend lots of money on fancy markers or colored pencils, and you can buy nice coloring books (here are some really cool ones). But you don’t have to.
Unlike the first two, this hobby isn’t quite as mobile. But it is still very easy to work into the small spaces of time you have throughout the day. Sitting in the car line at school, while talking on the phone, or between chores or other tasks. I like to color while listening to podcasts. I don’t particularly enjoy listening to podcasts while I drive, and I can’t do anything that requires reading or writing while listening to podcasts, so this is a great way to keep my hands busy but my mind free to listen and contemplate.
Another way to enjoy coloring is to use it as a sort of guided meditation. Color in complete silence or while listening to meditation-friendly music (no words, soft, soothing, etc.) and focus only on coloring. Don’t allow your mind to wander, and when it does, simply turn it back to your page and pencils. If you find meditation to be challenging, this is a great way to start.
Hobbies are truly an important part of contentment and happiness, but they can also over-complicate your life. These hobbies are easy to fit in, affordable, and have the added benefit of being great stress relief and quieting your mind. Have you tried any of these? Which do you love? I’d love to hear from you in the comments!