Em­bark­ing on a new hobby can help re­duce stress, in­crease fo­cus and un­leash your cre­ativ­ity. So here’s how to…

Good Housekeeping (UK) - - Editor’s Letter -

Time to take up a new hobby

As a new sea­son dawns, it’s the ideal time to make a change – and what bet­ter way to en­rich your life than by taking up a hobby or learn­ing a new skill.

The ben­e­fits are clear, says psy­chol­o­gist Shahroo Izadi, whose book, The Kind­ness Method, is all about mak­ing pos­i­tive changes. ‘Even when life is at its most hec­tic, it’s not un­til you take care of and pri­ori­tise time for your­self that you become ef­fec­tive with other peo­ple. If you’re on a con­stant ham­ster wheel of re­spon­si­bil­i­ties, you won’t have the ca­pac­ity to be pa­tient, un­der­stand­ing and fully pre­sent. Your own hap­pi­ness will ben­e­fit ev­ery­one around you.’ WHERE DO I START? Work out what in­ter­ests you. What en­gaged you as a child? What ac­tiv­i­ties do you en­joy at work and at home? Is there any­thing you wish you’d had a chance to learn? Once you know the skills you gravitate towards, you can tai­lor your re­search. WHAT WILL I GAIN? ‘Of­ten, peo­ple wrongly as­sume that mind­ful­ness is all about sit­ting cross-legged and med­i­tat­ing – but in re­al­ity, it also means being lost and en­gaged in an ac­tiv­ity,’ says Shahroo. ‘Get­ting in­volved in a hobby brings a sense of con­nec­tion and mas­tery that greatly ben­e­fits our men­tal health.

‘Putting your­self in a new and dif­fer­ent sit­u­a­tion fos­ters re­silience and builds self-es­teem because it demon­strates our ca­pa­bil­ity. In turn, we’re an­i­mated and ex­cited when we have some­thing new to talk about, and this broad­ens our self-aware­ness and iden­tity. All of these things feed into our gen­eral well­be­ing, re­mind­ing us of our strengths and as­sets.’ WHAT IF I’M BAD AT IT? Think­ing that we’re not good at some­thing be­comes a self-ful­fill­ing prophecy. ‘A lot of peo­ple think that if they’re not a par­tic­u­lar ‘type’ – sporty or arty, for ex­am­ple – then they’ll never en­joy those things,’ ex­plains Shahroo. ‘But by dis­pelling and chal­leng­ing these be­liefs, we can un­cover ar­eas of our­selves we never knew ex­isted. It’s im­por­tant to re­mem­ber that when it comes to taking on hob­bies, it doesn’t mat­ter if you don’t have a nat­u­ral flair or abil­ity. If you en­joy some­thing and you turn up to learn, you will in­evitably get bet­ter at it.’ ❖ The Kind­ness Method: Chang­ing Habits For Good by Shahroo Izadi (Blue­bird) is out now

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