Dec 13, 2022 9 min read
Pursuing a Passion Outside of Work for mental wellness
The pressures of modern work culture, covid pandemic and social media omnipresence is leading to stress and anxiety leading to burn-out, depression and ill-health – both mental and physical and negatively impacts people’s wellness.
In this scenario, individuals need to proactively take efforts for their mental wellness and happiness. One of the best ways to do so is to re-discovering the joys of hobbies from the childhood days can lead to relaxation and emotional and mental healing.
While the negative impacts of social media are well recognised, apps and social media can also help individuals to pursue hobbies and wellness. Here, use of social media intentionally by curating whom to follow, what to watch and read and controlling time spent on social media platforms is at the crux of leveraging social media for hobbies and relaxation. Pursuit of hobbies outside of work can help in achieving mental wellness and a wholesome life.
Pursuing a Passion Outside of Work for Mental Wellness
A poem written more than a hundred years ago lamented the lack of time for pursuit of leisure. W H Davies poem ‘Leisure’ proffers the profound question “What is this life, if, full of care, we have no time to stand and stare”, and is more relevant today than when he wrote it.
We often hear the advice to be passionate about our work. The fad of ‘hustle culture’ pressurises people to work tirelessly, without rest, and to be constantly productive and make money. The undue pressure to maximise every second of every day to be successful and ahead of others negatively impacts the individual’s wellbeing due to the stress and anxiety which leads to burn-out, depression and ill-health – both mental and physical. Adding fuel to the fire, the reality of being constantly connected to the world through social media, constantly checking the phone notifications, the pressing need to project an ‘image’ to the world by posting selfies and pictures to avoid FOMO (Fear of Missing Out) is leading to feelings of unease, dissatisfaction, and anxiety for many.
Further the covid pandemic led to health and wellbeing emerging as one of the biggest issues of our times. While presenting this year’s Union Budget, the Finance Minister said the coronavirus pandemic has accentuated mental health problems in people of all ages and highlighted the need for better mental health care for Indians.
Research shows that Indians suffer higher stress levels than most workers globally. Multiple studies and surveys have established that Indians are in need of work-life balance and stress management solutions. Responding to the rising need for emotional and mental wellness of their workforce, organisations have put in place various initiatives to support the overall performance and health of employees. Employees feel that their companies should be doing more to support their mental health. However, at the individual level too, people need to proactively take efforts for their mental wellness and happiness.
Living in the moment, controlling the urge to be at the top of the game, valuing familial ties, appreciating the little joys of life and prioritising physical and mental wellness are some of the ways to counter the ill-effects of our modern life. This is where the importance of pursuing passion & hobbies comes to play. Re-discovering the joys of hobbies from the childhood days can lead to relaxation and emotional and mental healing.
Unlike the recognition and rewards at the workplace, which are mostly beyond the control of employees, hobbies can actually help in realising the self-actualization or self-fulfilment needs of the Maslow’s hierarchy of needs pyramid. Hobbies can further growth motivation and a sense of achievement, beyond the professional goals and targets. Though hobbies maybe viewed by many as unprofessionalism, frivolous waste of time and resources, it is far from the truth. Instead, hobbies help people to be more productive at the workplace, boost self-confidence and revitalise which positively impact the quality of work and life, itself. Some of the best hobbies that elevates people’s mood include music, painting, gardening, trekking, exercising, cooking, sports, creative writing, learning a new language or skill, social work, amongst such others.
Ironical that it may sound, but Social Media and apps (which are addictive and cause emotional and mental stress and ill-effects) can also help individuals to pursue hobbies and wellness. Social health apps are enabling people, especially the millennials and z generation to monitor eating and sleeping habits, exercise, track footsteps and running, meditation, among others. These include, amongst others, apps such as Calm, HealthifyMe, hydration tracker – WaterMinder, Pomodoro apps, etc.
The caveat while using social media, is to be not on autopilot or drift mindlessly or drown in the sea of content. Use of social media intentionally by curating whom to follow, what to watch and read and controlling time spent on social media platforms can enable people to have access to motivational posts, life-lessons, productivity hacks, management insights, learn new skills, deriving inspiration from others experiences, socialise and collaborate with others having similar hobbies, creative content including books, poems, articles and more.
Studies corroborate that hobbies can lower stress levels, and blood pressure and levels of the stress hormone cortisol. So if you had a hobby as a child, it is time to rekindle that passion or even discover newer interests. If still you feel that you have no time for hobbies, it’s time to ask yourself whether you are denying yourself of a host of wellness benefits that will enrich your life and of those around you.
As the author, William Lyon Phelps, said, “The happiest people are those who think the most interesting thoughts. Those who decide to use leisure as a means of mental development, who love good music, good books, good pictures, good company, good conversation, are the happiest people in the world. And they are not only happy in themselves, they are the cause of happiness in others”, mindfully pursuing leisure and hobbies can be the answer to a generation of people who exasperatedly exclaim, ‘Where’s the time!’ and complain about their stressful lives or lack of work-life balance. They are the ones who most need to pursue hobbies and leisure for a wholesome life. Let not what is essential to our wellness, be lost in the cacophony of the inessentials.
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