That thing you’ve been meaning to try for ages? Here's why you should ditch your excuses and do it.
If you’ve ever wanted to try something new, whether it’s a sport, hobby, or recipe, you’ve probably questioned your decision: Will it be too difficult? Do you have the time? Will you make a fool of yourself?
Here’s why you should quell those questions and act on the urge: Taking up a hobby is beneficial for your health. A study in the Annals of Behavioral Medicine showed that people who took part in leisure activities, no matter if it was cross-stitching or trail running, became 34 percent less stressed and 18 percent less sad while they did so, and the calming effect lasted for hours.
For me, diving into a new interest came last year when I tried a Yin yoga class, a gloriously gentle form of practice that mostly revolves around long, slow, prop-supported stretches and deep breathing.
After years of unshakeable conviction that being a Lululemon-wearing yogi definitely wasn’t for me, I’ve become hooked on this meditative form of yoga. Yin yoga found me at a point in my life when being calm and counting breaths was just what I needed.
I’ve always drooled in envy over friends’ beautiful photos of preserves on Facebook, so I decided to give it a go recently and I loved it! I wished I’d done it years ago. But like so many things we miss out on in life, it looked a little too hard and a little too easy to mess up, so I gave up before I’d even begun.
1. It doesn’t have to terrify you.
I asked Farzana Jaffer Jeraj, motivational speaker and author of I Cheat at Meditation, for her advice on fighting fear of failure: “I believe that failure can be beautiful. Excitement and anxiety create the same response in our bodies, but we perceive one as negative and one as positive. If you believe in a journey of growth and learning, there is no failure—just figuring it out as you go along.”
There’s something wonderfully liberating about the thought that failure could just be learning. If you open yourself to that, the world shifts a little and becomes a little lighter. Letittia King agrees: She recently packed up her life and moved across Canada from Calgary to Ontario to attend the Wine Business Management graduate program at Niagara College.
“Working in Calgary is where I found a true passion for wine. My hospitality job was amazing; however, I wasn’t challenged.” After taking on the role of teacher’s assistant for the Wine Spirit Education Trust Program, King applied to grad school. “I was accepted six weeks out from the start date. I knew it would be a huge life adjustment, but I knew it was the best decision for me.”
That doesn’t mean it’s been without challenges.
“I’m still fighting off the homesickness, adjusting to being a student and being broke, but I already had a ‘dream come true’ experience: spending a day harvesting with one of my favorite producers,” says King.
2. It doesn’t have to consume your life.
Not all change has to be profound, and every hobby doesn’t have to redirect your life’s trajectory. If you’re lucky though, it will help you bloom in some new way.
Not sure what sort of project or pastime will help you grow? Here are a few activities with proven benefits.
Join a choir. It’s hard to feel sad and sing at the same time. Add in a social component and that happiness factor just increases. Research from Bath University shows that participating in a choir gives people a greater sense of togetherness than others experience in different social activities.
Try crafting. Whether it’s quilting, crochet or cake decoration, the repetitive motions of crafting can help those who suffer from anxiety, depression or chronic pain, giving health benefits similar to meditation.
Exercise with others. And no, going to a crowded gym with your headphones on doesn’t count. There’s plenty of research to suggest that social isolation can be incredibly debilitating. Try paddleboarding with some buddies this summer. Or find something a little more quirky, like a roller derby squad, circus skills school or disc golf league.
3. It doesn’t have to feel easy.
We talked to holistic nutritionist Louise Racine, owner of Thirteen Moons Wellness retreat center, about how—and why—we can grow into our best selves when we try something new.
Holistic health covers our physical, mental, emotional and spiritual well-being. Each is equally important, and when we open ourselves to trying new things, we nurture ourselves on one or more of these levels.
Stay open to possibility. The whole point of our lives is to live to our potential fuelled by our passion. The best way to connect to that is to be continually open to learning and doing new things, even if they initially make us uncomfortable.
Push through fear. Fear is often behind a resistance to trying something new. When we push through that, we build courage, self-belief and confidence.
Challenge self-imposed limits. When it comes to physical activity, sometimes we think we’re not capable because we don’t like a certain activity, so we may resist trying it. Being open to thinking beyond our beliefs about ourselves can lead to a strong, flexible body.
Balance your brain. Trying something that challenges your intellect and engages both sides of your brain results in whole brain thinking. This improves physical coordination, creativity and intuition.
Take care of spiritual health. Spiritual health is often overlooked. Commit to a summer of growth by increasing your connection to yourself, to others and to the universe. Try walking in nature, meditating, drumming or journaling for a set amount of time each week.
Someone once wisely (and anonymously) said, “Find three hobbies you love: one to make you money, one to keep you in shape and one to be creative.” Do that, and you’re bound to grow in ways you never imagined possible.
PHOTOS BY Denny Dias