The Definition Of A Hobby May Surprise (And Delight) You


Life is stressful enough without stressing about what we do in our downtime. Even just trying to answer the question “What do you like to do for fun?” can make some people anxious. Maybe you were once a great photographer or phenomenal knitter, but life got in the way of things you used to enjoy.

Or perhaps you never took to any particular hobby. That’s okay too. You might not have the time, energy, or motivation to go on that hike, finish that scrapbook, or start on that memory quilt.

It turns out, maybe the idea that a hobby has to involve a certain skill is truly the root of anxiety around pastimes.

Why Do We Feel Anxious About The Idea Of Hobbies?

It can be hard to embrace a “hobby-less” life when your social media feeds are filled with friends who embroider, do woodwork, and bake beautiful pastries.

Even more so when it seems like everyone is turning their hobbies into a profitable side hustle—couldn’t we all use a little extra cash? But when hobbies morph into work, are they even still considered a hobby?

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And putting pressure on yourself to be the “best” at a particular art form is unproductive. Seeing these perfectly-curated Instagram pages from people who’ve spent countless hours honing their crafts might make you feel like you’re not “good” enough or “artsy” enough to even try, which can put you in an even bigger rut.

What Are Hobbies Anyway? 

According to Merriam-Webster, a hobby is “a pursuit outside one’s regular occupation, engaged in especially for relaxation.” Okay, so binging a season of The Great British Baking Show while drinking copious amounts of hot tea technically counts, right?

Your hobby/hobbies don’t have to look a certain way, they just need to make you feel a certain way. And if watching television is your way of relaxing, then, by all means, claim that as your hobby!

Hobbies don’t have to require a lot of skill, practice, or creativity. Doing a puzzle, relaxing on the porch, or taking your dog for a walk are all equally valid. But it’s also okay if you don’t enjoy those activities or feel relaxed doing those things.

A Life Without Hobbies

So do we even need formal hobbies? We all remember the “hustle” culture that dominated before 2020—the burnout that many people experienced was palpable. And during the pandemic, many realized they needed to slow down and find joy in small things.

According to a 2009 study published in the National Library of Medicine, partaking in activities you enjoy can be good for your mental and physical health. But that doesn’t mean your hobbies have to be some elaborate, grand, or physically demanding undertaking. Choosing something simple to do in your spare time (granted you have some) is a great way to unwind.

You can meditate, take a nap, or listen to a podcast—as long as you feel relaxed, we (and Merriam-Webster!) say it counts as a hobby. So next time someone asks you, “What do you do for fun?” you can likely think of several things you enjoy.

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