There’s a longstanding debate about whether you should monetize your hobbies or simply enjoy them as fulfilling creative pursuits. The truth is that there’s a time and place for both sides. However, the most important thing is that you have a hobby, period.
As an entrepreneur, it probably goes against your nature to do something “just for the fun of it.” Research shows that there’s a positive relationship between hobbies and overall work performance, and other studies have proven that even low-movement hobbies correlate to better health.
3 Ways Your Hobby is Directly Contributing to The Health of Your Mind and Business
1. It Staves Off Burnout
Burnout is a very real concern, especially in today’s “always on” hustle culture. Depression and mental health concerns have increased among entrepreneurs, and a Harvard Business Review study found that 28 percent of entrepreneurs are actively experiencing moderate-to-severe burnout.
While it’s true that entrepreneurs are in a unique position to create a job that suits our passions, it’s important to remember that we can just as quickly become obsessive and focus too much on the business.
Spending time on a hobby (whether it’s active, creative, or somewhere in between) gives you the ability to take a step back and “reset.” It can also be a reminder that your work doesn’t have to be your only source of fulfillment.
2. It Makes You More Focused and Productive
Regardless of what your hobby is, it directly impacts your productivity and performance levels. A common mistake people make is thinking that their hobbies need to be somehow related to their work in order to be useful, but this isn’t necessarily true.
For example, creative, non-work pursuits actually help you become a better problem solver and a more empathetic, helpful leader in the workplace.
In addition, Carol Kaufman, founder of Harvard Medical School’s Institute of Coaching, has found that engaging in a hobby you enjoy helps you enter the coveted “flow state.” Flow states happen when you lose a sense of time and become restfully focused on your pursuit, which actually restores your mental, physical and emotional energy levels.
Finding something that feels restorative will be unique to your situation and interests. Some people prefer group activities, like a recreational soccer league or spiritual retreats. Others are restored by quiet activities like knitting, fishing, or solo nature walks. The most important thing about your chosen hobby is finding something that feels fulfilling to you.
3. It Boosts Your Mood and Bodily Health
Engaging in a physical hobby, even a low-impact one, has excellent health benefits. Cardiovascular activities like jogging, cycling, and yoga are particularly good for mental and physical health.
For example, freediving, and the mental, physical and emotional benefits gained from it are exhilarating. Freediving requires strength, endurance, and mental fortitude, but it also has many overlapping benefits with both yoga and my other passion, meditation.
Alexey Molchanov is the top freediver in the world and the first RIFGO coach. It’s the kind of hobby that puts your entire life into perspective.
Freediving and meditation aren’t about money, success, or prestige. They’re inherently about connecting with the world and yourself as deeply as possible; pushing your boundaries, mastering your body, and realigning your consciousness.
As Alexey’s mother, legendary freediver Natalia Molchanova, says, “It’s a way to understand who we are.” That’s true of any hobby we pour our passion and time into.
From a purely research-based standpoint, hobbies are a critical component of a healthy, well-rounded life.
Hobbies improve mental health by lowering stress through reduced production of the stress hormone cortisol. In fact, a study proved that even if you’re not good at your hobby yet, you still get stress-reducing benefits.
Any hobby with a physical component helps your overall health, too. Not only do your stress levels lower, but physical activity also lowers blood pressure, heart rate, and body fat levels.
When your mind and body are sharp, healthy, and refreshed, you will be much more open to exploring new business opportunities, tackling problems with a fresh perspective, and being fully present for your employees, customers and investors. Plus, you’ll have a vibrant vitality that will draw people to you.
Don’t Have a Hobby Yet? Start Here
If you don’t already have a hobby you love, that’s okay. You’ll get the extra dopamine high of starting something new on top of the rewards of pursuing a creative outlet.
First, resist the urge to choose a hobby based on what might be “useful” or “beneficial” to other areas of your life (especially your business). Remember, that’s not the point!
Instead, take some time alone and really consider your interests. If you’re drawing a blank, think about what you loved to do as a kid. Did you lose yourself in books? Spend hours wandering in nature? Stay up late coloring or plucking out songs on a guitar?
Whatever it was, consider starting there. Maybe it will feel as great now as it did then, or perhaps it will lead you to a new, related hobby. The most important thing here is whether or not it makes you feel good because this is where all of the benefits stem from.
Hobbies are essential for balance, fulfillment, health, and success. This is especially true for entrepreneurs. Step back from the business; step into creative pursuits, and watch your business flourish.