It can be challenging to keep occupied in a fun, productive way, whether at home, in the hospital, or in a clinic waiting room. However, these times can be the perfect opportunity for patients, siblings/offspring and parents/caregivers, to acquire a hobby, to develop new interests, and to learn something new and different.
In researching this topic for The Dragonfly Foundation, I learned:
- there is a positive connection between having a hobby and self-esteem.
- there is a mutual benefit for parents who share their hobbies and interests with their children
- hobbies are just as important to good health as exercise, as they promote a “greater positive mood, well-being, or life satisfaction, less negative or depressed mood, less stress and/or more stress-coping, and better cardiovascular health.” (Source: https://www.ucmerced.edu/sites/ucmerced.edu/files/documents/zawadzki-paper-2015.pdf)
According to a University of Cambridge, UK website, titled brainychild, “A hobby provides an opportunity for you to acquire a number of rare and special skills and knowledge. By learning a hobby, you will be acquiring an ability to display your talent or skill by performing a series of activities that are special to that particular hobby. “
With some advice from gooseling.com, let’s take a look at some tips about hobbies and where to start:
Test the waters with short-term, low-commitment options. This makes a lot of sense, especially when someone is in treatment or when a family is financially challenged. What may be of interest today, may change over time. For example, activities a patient might find interesting in the hospital, may be less so when they have more energy or want to do something more physically challenging.
Remember that everyone will find things they love to do, but not everyone is meant to be professional or an expert. It is important to have patience and to focus on the journey — not the outcome.
Explore different opportunities and find what resonates. Don’t be afraid to try different things or to fail. There is no such thing as wasted effort.
When helping others explore hobbies, be supportive and understanding. How many of us have been through an illness and didn’t even feel like reading a book? Stress makes everything more challenging, even things that are supposed to stress relievers.
Remember that all hobbies have therapeutic benefits. One of my favorite artists, Frida Kahlo, did some of her finest, most poignant creations when she was confined to a bed for months at time while recovering from surgery following an accident. (Note: Her paintings are really graphic, but they are an illustration of how she felt.)
Share or learn a skill from person rather than from a video on YouTube. You will benefit from the relationship and from doing something together. Nothing like having a good memory result from a challenging time!
Use the time to do things together. For example, reading is a wonderful hobby. One thing I used to do with my grandchildren is what I called our “Family Reading Circle.” At first, the kids rolled their eyes and begrudgingly joined me, but then they began to look forward to the camaraderie of sitting together and enjoying a good book. Recently, we had a long-distance book club. We all read the same book and had a FaceTime (video conference) discussion about it. I was amazed by what I learned from listening to their perspective about certain things that happened in the book. You can do this with kids and adults; everyone could read the same book and then arrange a time to connect. It could be a fun, enriching way to get together with friends, when you can’t be together in person.
Hobbies can fuel mental and physical growth: Sometimes it is easier to rely on electronics for entertainment. Games and movies can be a fun distraction, but wouldn’t it be better to encourage an interest that could last a lifetime?
Ask The Dragonfly Foundation for guidance: Dragonfly has incredible volunteers with a variety of skills and talents. These registered and background checked expert volunteers can help teach you, if your schedule is already crammed or if you don’t have a hobby to share (like me beyond reading!!). No doubt there are community artists who would love to teach your child how to do pottery or, perhaps, learn how to watercolor, sew or play the guitar. Connecting with the volunteers over video conference or at the Landing could also assist in providing needed support.
All the best, as you and your family explores new interests.
Elaine Plummer, RN, Contributing Author for The Dragonfly Foundation