Finding a creative hobby could be the key to a happy life When was the last time you felt truly happy and relaxed, and totally at ease with yourself? Hectic lifestyles and stressful jobs are the bane of our lives, and with only 24 hours in a day to get everything done, something has to give. Typically, it’s our downtime that gets deprioritised and downgraded . To bring back a sense of joy to your life, have you thought of taking up a hobby? Choosing to spend time on an activity you love acts as a fantastic stress reliever for unwinding after a hard day’s work, while a creative pastime is a great way to help you be in the moment. What can a hobby do for you? A hobby is a regular leisure activity that you do in your spare time and for one reason only: it’s FUN! It doesn’t matter if you enjoy acrylic painting or Zumba dancing, you’re not doing it because you’re getting paid for it and it doesn’t impact your career progression. What’s more, your hobby will turn you into an active participant, get you off the couch and away from the screen. If you think the idea of having a hobby is an old fashioned or self-indulgent concept, or one you simply don’t have time for, think again. Maybe the reason why so many of your peers don’t spend their downtime doing things they love is because they don’t make it an urgent priority? Put another way, if your days, weeks and months are overscheduled with work, family, chores and other stuff you ‘have’ to do, where’s the fun in your life? Even if you manage to snatch bits of ‘me time’ here and there whenever your schedule allows, is that really enough to rebalance you? Whether you’ve always wanted to make your own furniture, join a choir or go hill climbing, the right hobby should be totally absorbing. Channel your creative side and forget about all else. That way, your chosen pastime serves as a valuable mental release valve allowing you to decompress from the pressures of the day. Last but by no means least, taking up a hobby is an easy way to make new friends. Spend time with people in your neighbourhood that are on your wavelength, experience new things together and enrich your social life. How and where do you find the right hobby? If you don’t currently have a regular creative leisure activity and you’re unsure how to find one that you will enjoy, here are some useful ideas to help you look in the right places. • Think back to when you were a kid We all change as we grow older but, in the process of becoming an adult it’s easy to forget the simple pleasures of being a child. Was art your favourite school subject but you never pursued it further? Did you play an instrument but gave it up when it was no longer cool? Were you an outdoorsy kind of kid? Re-establish the connection with your younger self and tap into your childhood passions to find a great hobby you can take up now you’re an adult. • Scrutinise the here and now Take your cue from the present, which is all around you. Perhaps you still have that guitar from all those years ago – why not start playing again? Remember the sewing machine collecting dust in a cupboard – take it out and see if it still works. Or maybe there’s a room in your house that could do with some interior design TLC right now? Life events can be a good ‘hook’ to get you back into the swing of things, or learn a new skill. A new baby in the family could be the perfect excuse for learning how to knit. Moving home is a great time to add your own creative finishing touches to your new environment. • Be open to trying new things If you’re curious to learn a new craft skill, the world is full of opportunities. While the choice of activities can be overwhelming at first, it’s a good idea to start by looking wide for inspiration before you narrow down your favourites on a shortlist. Visit museums and art galleries, book shops and music shops, local artisan events and craft markets – anything you can think of that might give you a clearer idea of the direction you’d like to take. Browse around to see what grabs you. Perhaps you’ll develop a keen interest in chutney making, or blacksmithing, or hang drumming? Why not book a taster workshop or experience day to try out a few interesting sounding activities first hand? An excellent selection can be found here . How to make your hobby work for you? It is a big misconception that a hobby has to take up a lot of time. Of course, you’ll have to rearrange a few other commitments to make space in your schedule, but it’s entirely up to you how much time you want to devote to your new-found interest. If you’re doing a flower arranging course, a weekly meet-up may be perfectly adequate. Crocheting, on the other hand, could be something you do every evening. It’s a good idea to start small, particularly as far as materials and equipment are concerned. Use your teacher’s jewellery making workshop before you start converting the garden shed. Keep a close eye on expenditure too. A piano may be a huge investment, but a second-hand electronic keyboard is much more affordable. Don’t get carried away by your enthusiasm for your new-found hobby, but don’t let your sprit be dampened by any obstacles that may be in the way. A new hobby should lift your spirits in ways that things like retail therapy and watching TV simply can’t. Part and parcel of the fun is broadening your horizons, exploring new things IRL and getting a better insight of what makes you happy . About the Author: Annie Button is a Portsmouth based writer and English Literature graduate. Annie likes to share her experiences and knowledge through her blog posts and has written for various online and print publications. When she’s not writing Annie likes cooking healthy new recipes and relaxing with a good book'. Twitter: Annie Button