When was the last time you did something for you – just because you like it? Too long? It might be time to think about taking up a hobby! In addition to enjoyment, hobbies have lots of benefits in a surprisingly wide range of areas.

1. Hobbies help you to structure your time. Let’s face it, your time will be filled with something – so why not make it something enjoyable? Hobbies help to make the time you spend worthwhile because you’re almost guaranteed of a positive outcome. Also, you won’t be tempted to do things like answer e-mails and catch up on a bit of work if you have to go to a class or attend a club meeting, for example.

2. Hobbies create something called ‘Flow’. This is something where you lose yourself in whatever you’re doing. Those times when time passes without you noticing because you’re so involved in whatever you’re doing. They’re invigorating, because they are usually caused by what’s called ‘active leisure’, where you’re fully immersed in whatever you’re doing.

3. Hobbies help to create and strengthen social connections. They not only help us to meet people, they help us to meet people with whom we share interests, so we have a good foundation of compatibility. We have people with whom we can share our passion – people who understand our passion. So, we can develop new friendships and increase our overall happiness.

4. Hobbies make you more interesting! They give you something to talk about, and something about yourself to share with other people other than what you do for a living. They give you ‘layers’ because there are more aspects to what you do with your life. They also help to strengthen your self-concept, because you can see yourself as a player, an artist, a photographer, or an actor, for example. They also set a good example for your children, your family, and your friends.

5. Hobbies help you to cope with stress. They help you to unplug from the things that are bothering you, and from the mundane routine of everyday life. They provide a space where the whole point is for you to relax, and you know that it will be beneficial for you.

6. Hobbies spill over into the rest of your life. Your enthusiasm for your hobby can be infectious, and they will probably help you to engage in a wide range of areas in your life.

So, why not try something new, or take up something again that you stopped a while ago? Join a club or an organisation. Take a risk with something you haven’t tried before. You never know, you might just surprise yourself with what you can do.

But – do it now! Don’t wait until you ‘think’ you’re going to have time for it – and especially don’t wait until you retire!