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Hobbies are not just to the pass the time of day or a way to kill time. They serve an important place in our psychological tool kit as a way to relieve and cope with stress. They are also a way to keep mentally active, creative, and give a sense of accomplishing and fulfillment during periods of anxiety, depression, and circumstantial stress. I have noticed that even people on skid row have hobbies that

When I was a boy, I built model airplanes, collected stamps and coins, and of course, baseball cards. As an adult I engage in woodworking and photography. These are my hobbies. I differentiate hobbies from recreational activities such as exercising, tennis, golf or other physical activity, reading, or learning a language.  Hobbies are activities that don’t require much physical exertion and occupies my mind and requires me to focus.

Hobbies can be done alone or in participation with others with similar interests. There are stamp and coin collecting groups, wood working classes both live and online, and photography workshops. Hobbies are activities that I do regularly in my spare time. There is no specific amount of time that I spend with my hobby. And I can read about my hobbies in magazines or books; hence, I may not be actively engaged in a specific project, but I can still be engaged in my hobby.

Some people are able to make a recreational activity into a hobby as well. They kill two birds with one stone.  For example, a person may enjoy target shooting or golf as a recreational activity, but also engage in collecting guns or golf clubs and other paraphernalia, thus making it a hobby as well as a recreational activity.  Hobbies do not require a specific season of the year or certain weather conditions. It can be engaged in any time of day or night. It can be pursued with little money and while on vacation.

I find engaging in a hobby relaxing and fulfilling. When engaged in my hobbies I rarely worry about anything that may be troubling me. They serve as a tranquilizer and a distraction, giving me time to re-group. We all experience times of frustration, stress, feeling blue or down, and generally out of sorts. By turning to one of my hobbies I can feel an immediate surge of endorphin, natures natural pain killer, and feel better. It like being in a bubble where nothing else seems to matter.

Hobbies do not have to be expensive, big, overwhelming, or highly sophisticated. Some people finding collections satisfying where they can hunt for treasures or research them online. Others enjoy manual type of hobbies such as cooking and organizing recipes, painting, sculpting, or knitting and needle point (the former NFL player, Rosie Greer enjoyed his needle point while sitting on the bench during a game). Other folks love to take photograph everyday scenes on the streets (such was the case for a homeless woman I met on skid row in Los Angeles; she claimed that it kept the voices at bay).

What you do, find a hobby that you enjoy doing and make it a part of your week. You will find that engaging in it is more stress relieving, satisfying, fulfilling and long lasting than sitting in front of the TV with a bowl of ice cream to chase away stress and the blues.

*****

[Dr. Dreyfus is a nationally recognized clinical psychologist, relationship counselor, sex therapist, and life coach in the Santa Monica – Los Angeles. The profits from his latest book, LIVING LIFE FROM THE INSIDE OUT along with his other five books, are being donated to charity through the website Book Royalties for Charity and can be purchased through Amazon.com. Please become a fan on his Facebook Fan Page by indicating “like” on the page by clicking here. You can also find more tools to help you experience a more fulfilling life by clicking here to visit his website.]