Hobbies that will teach you new skills for free
A hobby is something you engage in for pleasure or fun. It’s something you do in your spare time, and you don’t get paid for it. Since hobbies are ways to spend free time, many people think of them as “luxuries” they can’t afford. Right? Who has the time?
But it turns out that a hobby is more than just something fun to do. Picking up a hobby has a lot of benefits, such as:
Self-efficacy can come from having a hobby.
A hobby can help you express your creativity.
Having hobbies will keep your brain engaged.
When you have a hobby, you have something to look forward to.
Having a hobby can give you something to care about.
THERE ARE MANY WAYS TO LIVE IN a curious way, but one of the most satisfying might be to learn a skill that not many people know how to do. Learning how to do something that few people even bother to try, whether it’s a nearly extinct skill like blacksmithing or a unique art form like paper marbling, gives you both rare knowledge and a sense of community.
This is a winning combination: it’s fun and good for you. Here are 16 habits that will help you live a better life:
1. Say your prayers. Everybody should learn how to meditate. Is meditation a hobby, though? I say that it is. Meditation will help you feel less stressed, lower your blood pressure, boost your immune system, and even help you focus better.
Is meditating fun? When I meditate, which I do for ten minutes a day, I put on an Enya CD, light a candle, and lie down on my yoga mat. Once I’m completely calm, I feel so good that I would say that meditating is fun.
2. Make something grow. Gardening is a hobby that is surprisingly good for you. There are obvious benefits to growing your own fruits and vegetables as well as pretty flowers, but that’s just the tip of the iceberg. It also helps you with all of the following:
It lowers your levels of the stress hormone cortisol.
Taking care of a plant from seed to fruit gives you more confidence in your ability to make the world a better place.
It counts as working out (and we all need to get at least 150 minutes of exercise a week).
Studies have shown that gardening cuts the risk of getting dementia by 36%.
Plus, gardening gets you outside in the fresh air. In this post, “8 Reasons You Need to Spend More Time in Nature,” I talked about eight of the many benefits of being outside.
3. Get to know your kitchen again. Studies show that people who cook their own meals are healthier and live longer than those who eat out a lot. Kimberly Snyder, a nutritionist, says that when people choose their own food at the grocery store, they buy less processed, sugary, and fatty foods. Instead, they choose food that is better for them.
You can also save money by cooking at home.
4. Grab a book. Reading is so much more than just a fun thing to do. Reading improves your vocabulary and helps you understand what you read better. It also makes your brain stronger. Just like jogging works out your body, reading works out your mind.
Also, research shows that reading can cut stress by 69%. Reading also helps you sleep better, so right before bed is a good time to do this hobby.
5. Play a tune on the piano. Playing an instrument, like the piano, can help your brain grow. It also helps improve hand-eye coordination and fine motor skills. And here’s the kicker: playing a musical instrument raises both kids’ and adults’ IQ by seven points. Kind of makes you want to run out and get a keyboard, doesn’t it?
6. Get the chess board ready. You probably already know that playing chess is a great way to improve your brain’s ability to think. First of all, playing chess works both sides of the brain. First, players need to train and use the left side of their brain, which is responsible for recognizing objects. Second, they need to use the right side of their brain, which is for seeing patterns.
Chess also helps you remember things and think strategically.
7. Take Up the Mambo. Dancing is not only fun, but it also has a lot of good effects. When you dance, you are, of course, working out your body. Dancing also lowers stress and raises levels of serotonin, a neurotransmitter that makes people feel good. Dancing also increases cognitive acuity, which means that it makes you smarter.
8. Finding Nemo. Scientists are finding more and more evidence that having a pet can make us healthier. Animal-assisted therapy is becoming more common in hospitals, nursing homes, and mental institutions because of this. Even though dogs and cats are mostly used, fish are also used.
Dogs and cats can’t always be kept, but there’s always room for fish. Fish also don’t need a lot of time or care. Lastly, no one can deny that watching fish swim calmly through the water is soothing. I’ve had a few goldfish in my life, and they all died after living long, healthy lives. I’m thinking about getting another one.
9. Put the ball over the net. You can meet new people and make friends by joining a sports team. Signing up for intramural sports is a fun way to spend time with other people, which is one of the keys to happiness. Volleyball is an easy team sport to learn how to play well. Studies show that being alone is even more dangerous than being overweight.
So, instead of going home to watch TV by yourself, you should go to the YMCA and play volleyball with other people.
10. Take Online Classes. Knowledge gives you power. By making taking online classes a hobby, you can do all of the following:
When you learn new skills, you feel more self-efficacy, which means you have more faith in your ability to get the results you want.
Getting new skills can make you more valuable at work, which could lead to a promotion.
Learning new things keeps your brain active and your mind sharp.
11. Study a new language. Learning a new language is useful because it lets you talk to people who speak that language when you travel. Also, it looks great on a resume if you can speak two or three languages.
The cherry on top is that studies have shown that bilingual people’s brains work differently than the brains of people who only speak one language. Learning a second language will make you smarter, more decisive, and even help you speak your first language better.
And here are two more benefits of learning a new language: it makes you more perceptive and it helps you avoid dementia.
12. Connect to your inner Karate Kid. There are real benefits to studying and learning a martial art like karate. By learning a martial art, you will learn how to protect yourself. You’ll also learn to be more disciplined and improve your ability to concentrate. Martial arts will also help you improve your balance, stamina, coordination, and strength, and bring your body and mind together.
13. The Waves. You’ve probably heard of the state of flow, which is when you’re so into what you’re doing that your ego disappears, time stops, and you become one with what you’re doing in the present moment. Surfing is a great way to get into a flow state.
In his book The Rise of Superman: Decoding the Science of Ultimate Human Performance, Steven Kotler talks about what he calls “flow triggers” in surfing. Some of these flow triggers are listed below:
A difficult environment: Riding a wave is always unpredictable, so you have to pay full attention to what you’re doing.
Having clear goals: what could be clearer than the goal of riding a wave without falling off the board?
You get immediate feedback: either you successfully ride a wave or you don’t.
14. Grab your knitting needles. Crafting can help people with anxiety, depression, or long-term pain, say experts. In fact, making something has some of the same benefits as meditation. Victoria Schindler, an occupational therapist, says that the repetitive movements of knitting, for example, stimulate the parasympathetic nervous system, which calms down the “fight or flight” response.
15. Put Pen to Paper. Keeping a journal can help you get your thoughts in order, plan how you’re going to reach your goals, solve problems, and relieve stress. James Pennebaker, a psychologist and researcher at the University of Texas at Austin, says that writing in a journal regularly makes immune cells called T-lymphocytes stronger.
Lastly, writing in a journal can help you learn more about yourself. You can find out what makes you happy and what makes you feel tired. With that knowledge, you’ll be able to do more of what makes you happy and stay away from people and situations that aren’t good for you.
16. Let your inner clown out. Try juggling. Juggling makes you more focused and helps you coordinate your eyes and hands. It’s also a form of active meditation, since you have to pay full attention to the objects you’re juggling. This puts you in the same relaxed state as when you sit cross-legged on the floor and chant.
Also, a study from the University of Regensberg in Germany in 2004 found that learning to juggle makes some parts of your brain grow. If you stop juggling, the brain will go back to its normal size, so you need to keep it up.