Hobbies for Everyone
Having a hobby is good for us. Busy lives, stressful schedules, and trying to please everyone at once without a thought for our own health can mean we often get run down, ill, and tempers can flare. A hobby can help to prevent all that, and it doesn’t matter what it is, or whether we’re any good at it or not.
Hobbies are something – anything – that isn’t work, and that we enjoy. They aren’t something that we necessarily make any money doing (although sometimes hobbies do become careers), and they aren’t even something that anyone else really needs to know about if we don’t want them to. Hobbies are simply a way to escape from normal, everyday life, and do something different that makes us happy.
And what makes a hobby even better is that it can actually help our health too. It’s a stress reliever, and an important outlet for our creativity which might not get used on a regular basis otherwise. A hobby allows us to be someone else and do something different, even if it’s just for an hour a week. In the end, that can be the difference between high blood pressure and a healthy level, a tense and stressful home life and a happy one; taking time out to do something we really enjoy is, some researchers say, absolutely essential to a long and happy life. A hobby can even decrease depression and allow our bodies to rejuvenate.
Even if it feels as though you should be doing something ‘more productive’ (surely gardening can wait if the bed clothes need changing? That report needs to be finished, there can’t be any time for your judo lesson…) the experts say missing out on your hobby will only increase your stress levels. And if you take the time to enjoy yourself, your body and brain will be more focused on whatever daily task it is you choose to get on with afterwards.
Everyone should have a hobby; they’re good for our health in both body and mind. There are so many different options out there, here are just a few to give you an idea of something to try…
Pottery is, perhaps, the oldest hobby around. Pieces of ancient pottery in the form of vases, tiles, crockery, and more have been found all across the country and date back thousands of years. Pottery had a resurgence after Demi Moore and Patrick Swayze had a go in Ghost, and recently, after the BBC’s Great Pottery Throw Down, it’s become popular once more.
If you want to throw down some clay and make some gorgeous designs, remember it’s important to be able to laugh at yourself – it will go wrong, especially at the beginning. And it will take a lot of practise. But it’s fun, a great way to block out everything else and just focus on what you’re doing. Plus you can go totally traditional or make some really weird and wacky designs; let your imagination go wild!
In Kent, why not check out Aylesford Pottery (www.aylesfordpottery.co.uk) in Aylesford, A Touch of Clay (www.atouchofclay.co.uk) in Sevenoaks, or Heavenly Glaze (www.heavenlyglaze.co.uk) in Tonbridge.
In Sussex there is the Geoff Pittman Pottery Studio (www.geoffpittman.co.uk) in Hailsham, Skelton Workshops (www.skeltonworkshops.co.uk) in Ditchling, and Hummingbird Studios (www.hummingbirdstudio.co.uk) in Brighton.
Judo (which means ‘gentle way’) is a Japanese martial art that combines physical prowess with mental agility. Lifting, throwing, pinning, and holding are all part of judo, but unlike karate and similar techniques there is no punching or kicking, and no weapons – hence the ‘gentle way’. Judo is an excellent martial art to get into, and there are amateur competitions across the country throughout and the year. Belt colours run from white to black, but other dans (ranks) can be won and worn as bands.
The best way to begin with judo is to take a look at www.britishjudo.org.uk which will tell you more about the sport and show you videos of competitions. If there is an event going on near you why not go along and speak to the experts as well as watch judo in action.
If the last time you tried woodworking was in school, perhaps it’s time you picked up a chisel and tape measure once more. There is something beautiful and relaxing about making something new out of a piece of wood, and when it comes to getting involved and lowering your blood pressure, woodworking has it all covered.
There are lots of woodworking classes for both beginners and those who know their way around a claw hammer including The Goodlife Centre in London (www.thegoodlifecentre.co.uk), Colin Searle in Kent (www.routercourses.co.uk), and cabinet making with Marc Fish in Brighton (www.marcfish.co.uk). Another good place to look is your local adult education centre.
Knitting is a totally absorbing and soothing hobby that, unlike some others, can easily be done at home. Plus the materials are inexpensive (wool and needles, plus a pattern once you get going, and some of the patterns can be downloaded free online), and there are dozens of ‘how to’ videos online such as How to Knit: Absolute Beginners (www.youtube.com/watch?v=ONVQCK_-rKc).
There are also many reference books that are very useful when it comes to knitting including How to Knit: The Definitive Knitting Course by Debbie Bliss (RRP £8.99). If you don’t want to purchase the book, ask at your local library; while you’re there see if they have any knitting classes or groups that meet there, as this is always a popular option.
If you are looking for a new hobby that will not only get your brain working, but will get you out into the fresh air as well, then geocaching could be exactly what you need. It’s an exciting, thrilling, sometimes exasperating, always entertaining way to explore not only new places, but your own doorstep too, with the added bonus of that frisson of adrenalin that comes with unearthing secret caches that most people have been walking past for years without ever knowing they were there. It’s a worldwide treasure hunt that uses GPS technology (through a mobile phone app or by using a specialist GPS device) to allow people to locate ‘caches’ that had been hidden by others.
It’s incredibly addictive, and it’s social too with monthly cachers meets and walks arranged throughout the year.
If you’re keen to get started you don’t need much at all; sign up on the website (www.geocaching.com) and download the app (it’s free). Wherever you are, check the app and, when you have a moment (perhaps it’s your lunch break, or you’re early to meet someone for example) you can add a new cache to your total. If you have more time to spare, take on a caching loop. Ranging from two to more than 10 miles, these loops take you on a beautiful country walk where you can pick up dozens of caches as you go.
Birdwatching (or birding) is, simply put, the hobby of looking at birds. But there is more to it than that. It’s also about identifying the birds, understanding their habitats, and learning more about them. Whether you prefer using manmade ‘hides’ to spot the birds or you like to walk through the countryside and search for them, there is a place for you. You can even birdwatch from home – setting up a birds’ feeding station and some nesting boxes will ensure you always have plenty to look at. If you are really interested, you can even put cameras inside with a feed directly to your laptop, TV, or tablet.
If you’re keen to get started, you could subscribe to Birdwatch Magazine (www.birdwatch.co.uk) which won the Birders’ Choice Award in 2015. It contains all the information you’ll need to get the most out of your new hobby.
Collecting is a great hobby – human beings are natural collectors, so it really does fulfil a need that many of us have. Choosing to collect minerals is fun because it’s more than simply collecting something pretty to look at (although there is that too); it’s the thrill of the hunt, the science behind the minerals, building the collection to something you’re proud of. The only downside to collecting minerals is that your collection could soon start spilling out of the display cabinet and make itself at home in other rooms around the house too!
Take a look at Rocks & Minerals: The Definitive Visual Guide by Ronald Bonewitz (RRP £15). This book will teach you how to identify over 450 different rocks, gems, crystals, and minerals, as well as detailing the history behind them.