Tuesday, 3 November 2009

Rehabilitating hobbies

Now that the days are drawing in and everything looks so gloomy, it's a good time to think about taking up a hobby.

We've had a bit of a rant before about how boozing seems to have become the hobby of choice for so many people and that the concept of hobbies has become corny and nerdish, which is a great pity.  >> Has drinking replaced hobbies?

So Make it and Mend it is going on the campaign trail for the rehabilitation of hobbies! Or maybe it's not so much hobbies themselves that need rehabilitating, rather the word hobby? It's been the subject of too many curled lips and rolled eyes - let's make it cool again!

Why do we need hobbies? When you have a hobby, you never need to be bored. As well as the pleasure of the activity itself, the sense of achievement that making things can give you is both lasting and self-affirming.

It was Laurence Stern in The Life and Opinions of Tristram Shandy who first coined the term hobby - or hobby horse. His usage was not exactly positive though - being something the idle rich indulged in to the point of boring the pants off other people! Hobbies as we know them really took off in the years following the second world war - and it seems to have been the cynical go-getting 1980s that marginalised them.

There's  lots of evidence that having hobbies helps reduce stress. This is particularly important for those whose work can be all consuming. Doing something completely different helps takes the mind off your worries and can provide a bit of space and calm. Hobbies can improve self-esteem - as well as self-efficacy: the belief in your own ability to achieve a certain goal.

Hobbies can give people the opportunity to have more personal control over something when this is denied to them in everyday life or work and so it can be very self-affirming.

Hobbies can also be opportunities to fulfill our otherwise thwarted personal aspirations - hence the popularity of amateur dramatics, Karaoke and talent contests for wannabe "slebs".

So this is a call to action! Let's celebrate hobbies and make them sexy again!

Please let me know what hobbies you have and how long you've been doing them. Have you rediscovered a childhood passion? Taken up a long cherished dream? Is it related to your work or completely different? Do you do it alone or with others?

Either post a comment here or drop me an email to claref@makeitandmendit.com

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