THE BLOG
09/07/2012 03:52 pm ET Updated Nov 07, 2012

You Need a Hobby! Find the Ideal One Now

For Women & Co. by Paula Bernstein, PaulaBernstein.com

My father sang in a barbershop choir, researched the Civil War, and rode horses. My mother knits and does crossword puzzles. My husband plays guitar. Me? I still haven't found a hobby that grabs me.

I tried baking, but I ended up gaining weight. I have no knack for music and can't get into Sudoku. Besides, between taking care of business and taking care of my kids, I complain that I don't have time for a hobby. But the truth is, if I found the right hobby, I'd find time for it.

I used to think that hobbies were just a way to pass the time. But I realize now, having seen my mother beam at the sweater she created, that having a hobby you're passionate about can give you a sense of satisfaction and purpose. In fact, hobbies are good for your overall health and sense of well-being in many ways:

1. According to one study, focusing on a specific task, like knitting, helps keep your mind off everyday worries and can relieve stress and ward off depression.

2. Hobbies are a great way to bond with your family, especially if it's a hobby you can all do together, like bike-riding or hiking.

3. Having a hobby can boost your self-esteem and self-confidence. Just think how good you'll feel when you finish that quilt you've been working on!

4. Physical hobbies like running or bike riding are a great way to make exercise fun.

5. Whether you're into bird watching or bonsai, you can make new like-minded friends through your hobby.

6. Engaging in mentally challenging leisure activities such as reading or doing crossword puzzles can help reduce the risk of dementia.

As if all of the health benefits aren't enough, hobbies can also advance your career by teaching you skills or helping you discover new talents. In some cases, an avocation can even turn into a vocation.

Doing something that is challenging and stimulating can help you tap into your creativity or think of a new approach for solving a problem at work. Plus, many employers want well-rounded employees who have a creative or athletic outlet.

So how do you find the right hobby?

1. Think about what you liked doing as a kid. If you spent your childhood molding Play-Doh sculptures, why not take a pottery class? Did you get a kick out of finger painting as a toddler? How about watercolor painting?

2. Be realistic about how much time you have to commit. Are you looking to take a regularly scheduled class, so you know how much time to allot each week? Or do you want a hobby like knitting or doing crossword puzzles that you can do at home whenever you have spare time?

3. Ask friends what they like to do and then see if you can join them. Make an effort to try new things and see which one sticks.

So what about me? As a kid, I loved riding my bike. Lately, I've been looking for a way to get exercise and get out into the great outdoors (well, at least our local park), so I've recently started biking and plan to do it regularly. In addition to keeping me fit, it's also a fun activity I can do with my family.

For those times when I can't get outside and I find myself with some time to kill, I'm going to start painting by numbers. Or maybe I'll try making jewelry or origami. Who says I can only have one hobby, anyway?

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