Girl, you need a hobby

“So, what do you do for fun?”

Whether it’s a job interview, a first date or an intro to your new moms group, you’ve likely been asked this question before. And why not? It’s a great way to get to know a person beyond what they do for a living and how many siblings they have. But if you’re like a lot of people, myself included, it can be a tricky question to answer. Not because we don’t ever have fun (no one shuts down a happy hour quite like a moms group, thankyouverymuch), but because very few of us have actual hobbies.

While there’s nothing wrong with spending our downtime scrolling through Pinterest or watching HBO (#TeamTargaryen), there are some very serious personal and professional benefits to having a real life hobby. First, it can provide you with a hefty dose of stress reduction. From Psychology Today:

Imagine a rough day at the office, where you were harshly criticized by your boss. Coming home and turning on the TV may provide a brief distraction, but it doesn’t address your damaged ego head-on. Now imagine that after work you head out to your soccer league or pottery class. These activities are more than merely distracting. They remind you that that are many facets to your self-concept. Employee, yes, but also athlete or artist. As such, a blow to one aspect of your identity is less damaging. Simply put, your eggs aren't all in one basket.

Replace “office” with “story time” and “boss” with “toddler” and you have honestly just described my day. And speaking of toddlers, you may be wondering how you, as a busy mom, are supposed to have time for a hobby when you have a kid (and his/her activities) to wrangle, a job to keep and a household to maintain? Actually, hobbies can help with that, too. Back to Psychology Today:

According to Parkinson’s law, "work expands so as to fill the time available for its completion." More simply, things take as much time as you have. So, when the evening stretches out before you, unscheduled, you might find yourself laboring over that work project or answering emails into the wee hours. Chances are, if you had choir practice or a book club meeting that night, you would get those tasks done much more quickly. So, hobbies can seem to create more time by encouraging efficiency.

As if all that weren’t enough, hobbies have also been shown to help improve your performance at work and your overall health and well-being. Sign me up, right?

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And a hobby doesn’t have to be something you’re already good at. You can take this as an opportunity to learn something new or to pick up something you did back before you were #adulting. According to Michael Brickey, author of Defy Aging, the ideal hobby serves three purposes: a diversion, a passion and the creation of a sense of purpose. For me, in addition to calligraphy (obvi!), that’s sewing. I’m not particularly great at it, but I get better year after year. It is a totally absorbing activity (diversion), I absolutely love to do it (passion) and I am able to make clothing for myself and my daughter (sense of purpose). Matching outfits, obviously.

These are just a few of the benefits of having creative hobbies - trust me when I say there are a whole lot more. And call me biased, but brush calligraphy is an ah-mah-zing creative hobby to have. It’s inexpensive (most brush pens are well under $5), takes up very little space (unlike, say sewing or woodworking), can be done ANYWHERE (slip a pen and mini notebook in your purse and whip it out whenever you need a creative outlet), and because you already know how to hand write, you aren’t starting from zero. So give it a shot! And next time someone asks you do for fun, you’ll have something to say — besides watching Netflix.

Learn how the Hoopla! Letters Membership Program can help you maintain your own inky hobby.

Kimberly Shrack