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  • Writer's pictureMonique Gaddy

Unwind With: New Hobbies

picture of water color paints

I have been exploring the world of new hobbies for at least six months now. There is something about not being able to travel that really got me exploring my more creative side. While there are still a ton of things I would like to explore, just knowing that there are numerous benefits to learning new things - as well as allowing myself time to play and explore - has helped me keep my sanity while cooped up at home.

Why New Hobbies?

So, why pick up a new hobby? Why not just continue perfecting old hobbies or perhaps just spend time watching TV or relaxing? What about adapting old hobbies? While I did spend some time working on hobbies that I was already invested in - for instance, I had a ton of hand-painted cards that needed to be mailed out around the world and they had gotten pushed aside due to my busy work schedule - I found that NOT challenging my mind to learn something new was really adding in a layer of extra depression. So then I decided that I would pick up playing my flute again, surely my neighbors would enjoy some endless practice runs. But then I realized that what I wanted to do was learn something entirely new.

So, I began learning how to play the ukulele by using self-teaching techniques. The fantastic thing about learning a new instrument is that it really requires so many layers of absorbing new information. For instance, I needed to learn basics, like which tools I needed to utilize and what techniques I needed to learn. Then I needed to make sure I had the right supportive equipment. Then I had to figure out what songs I would like, and what styles of strum and finger-picking I would like. There was also the process of keeping up a good practice schedule. The entire process was not only fun and entertaining, but challenging and all-absorbing. The gloominess I was experiencing had really started to lift and I was able to feel like I was experiencing a fresh view on life again.

silhouette of a woman doing a martial arts kick on the beach

Benefits of Lifelong Learning

Starting up a new hobby has so many benefits and is useful for everyone no matter what age they are. The process of learning something new requires time and effort, patience and risk-taking. The great thing about hobbies, though, is that they are structured around your obligations. The pace is more leisurely than something you would learn for a career path, and often times is encouraging: stress relief, joy, determination, and/or exercise. When you begin to train yourself to learn a new process or series of processes, your mind ignites with creative thought. Your problem-solving skills work harder, you begin to carve out familiar paths as you practice your craft or activity. If your hobby includes physical activity, your body is benefitting from the new ways that it is being challenged. Your coordination, metabolism, and strength/flexibility may all be boosted from these new process it's learning. For more information on the benefits of lifelong learning, check out this blog I referenced.

Benefits of Play

Taking some time to explore and be a part of new experiences - without any real agenda - is something that can be incorporated into your new hobby. Maybe you have decided to learn how to paint. Sometimes you may want to learn really specific techniques or learn how to make a complete painting. Other times you may just want to explore how complimentary colors go together or you want to try out a new brush. Even though not everything you work on will be a cohesive thought, the incomplete, practice attempts, or just the pieces that you used to play with colors or new tools, are all part of the process and bring life to your new hobby. There are so many other benefits to allowing yourself to play, and sometimes these benefits can also make your work life easier or more successful, too!

a collage of supplies - yarn, paintbrushes, tools for various woodworking, a person learning about pottery, a camera for photography

Some Fun, Creative Hobbies

Our library has many books and kits that you can check out to support your growing interests. There may even be some programs or program kits available, too, that will spark your interest. For instance, did you know that Tai Chi is back? Join this fun outdoor program every Friday morning at 10 am! Learning how to paint is featured in a lot of our library collection and can be learned in a variety of forms - reading/written instruction, DVD, electronic book and electronic magazine! You can also learn how to draw, or learn how to sew! If you wanted to play with equipment, but you didn't want to make an investment in it, or you were not wanting to pay for a class just yet, try out one of our take-home kits. There are so many different types of kits and some libraries have different ways to check them out, so feel free to ask a staff member more questions about them if you are interested. I personally think a crochet starter kit would be a lot of fun! Happy hobbying!

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