Health

The importance of hobbies …and Andy’s Art!

I’m not very artistic. I secretly hoped I might have been a creative sort, considering my lack of any ability in science and the whole maths debacle,  (see my ‘Being Bad at Maths’ blog), but I’m not.  I can draw a little, but that’s about it. Andy, on the other hand is very creative. He spends a lot of his free time creating pieces of art and appears to get a huge amount of satisfaction from it.

He’s on the beach quite a lot (see my ‘Kite Surfing Widow’ blog) and picks up a lot of things he then uses in his creations. I love this ship he made a few years ago. It’s very big and covers one of our lounge walls!

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It is so important to have a hobby, or an interest that you have separate to your working life. Mine, at the moment, is blogging,  but I have tried many, including horse riding, knitting and photography… and have loved all of them. The horse riding is pretty expensive and I can’t persuade Andy to let me keep a horse, so I don’t go very often. I enjoy knitting through the winter months, even though my creations do look like I’ve knitted them for ‘The Abominable Snowman’. I’m not quite sure why everything comes up so big, it may be because my mum says I’m a ‘loose knitter’, which is quite a label when you think about it.

Hobbies are (or should be) time out, a stress reliever and an opportunity for personal development, and there are literally millions to choose from.  Andy uses his passion for the sea and being on the beach for his artistic creations, and this seahorse was a Christmas present a few years ago.

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He has also made me a cat (obviously), which has pride of place in the sitting room, (and is pictured at the foot of this blog),  but my favourite is this beautiful elephant he recently made for his daughter.

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Andy isn’t limiting himself to driftwood though, He also creates pictures from silver foil, string and black lead!

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The point is, whatever you can turn your hand to, you can turn it into a hobby. Doing something separate from work, and away from from your usual routine will be hugely beneficial to your mental health and sense of achievement.

For some of course, it’s not the break from work that is required,  but rather a replacement – as in when retirement arrives. We look forward to our retirement,  but when it is upon us, are we more or less content than  we were when our lives were spent rushing around on the hamster wheel? I don’t know, I have a few years to go yet before I can even think about retiring, but I hope when I do, I will be just as busy as I am now, just in a different way.

Taking up a hobby before you retire can be a great transition into that state and you can continue to use your skills and enthusiasm to great advantage.  Learning something new is incredibly empowering and encourages self awareness and, apparently,  increased brain function.

Some hobbies can even make you money, though be careful with this, as relying on the money, can then turn your hobby into work and all it’s connotations, both good and bad.

A friend of mine was retired and feeling at a bit of a loose end. She had a go at Mindfulness and loved it so much, she now teaches it, which she tells me, she can still hardly believe. I know that she wishes she had started it years ago. She had moved to the New Forest from Manchester and was finding it difficult to socialise. This new hobby seems to have changed all that!

Hobbies are hugely beneficial whatever your age, and can sometimes even assist in discovering new directions in personal career aspirations through volunteering.

Volunteering is a fantastic opportunity to not only give back to the community and do something worthwhile,  but also to try out a new field without the commitment of a drastic job change.  Back in my early 30’s, I changed career paths quite dramatically following a spell of volunteering.  I was working in sales but started volunteering at a young peoples charity in Southampton.  Within six months they had offered me a job and thus started a career which has now spanned twenty years working with vulnerable people. It gave me the opportunity to try something new, without drastically changing my career, until I had proved to myself that I like it enough to do so.

Following my own experiences volunteering and later managing teams of volunteers, I am a huge fan of www.do-it.org which is an excellent UK volunteering site. Pop in your postcode and it will list opportunities  in your area.  You can even list your areas of interest and it will try and find you a suitable match locally.  It’s mindblowing how many opportunities are out there – right on your doorstep!

So, give it a go! There are so many wonderful, exciting activities out there to explore and try for ourselves, often relatively inexpensively.  Finding something unique to us that we truly enjoy the fun and challenge of,  can add unlimited pleasure, and probably years to our lives.

Andy will be at a loose end now he has finished the elephant. I wonder when is the right time to put in my request for a porcupine? ❤️

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