HOBBIES ARE GOOD FOR YOUR HEALTH

Do you have a hobby? Hobbies can give meaning and purpose to your life in retirement. As Robert Putnam points out in his book, Bowling Alone, it’s easy to discount the importance of hobbies and social engagements. Putnam details the widespread decline in civic engagement, from PTA memberships to neighborhood potlucks and bowling leagues. Over a couple of generations, Americans have misplaced the concept of free time.

SPECIAL PLANS FOR YOUR SPECIAL PEOPLE

Lily is a beautiful, active and full of personality toddler who happens to have Down syndrome. Lily’s parents and I have been friends for years and I have the continuing pleasure of watching Lily and her siblings grow up. While Lily is becoming a physical therapy rock star and hitting all her milestones in a timely fashion, her parents have started planning for the future.

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WHY WE ENJOY OUR HOBBIES

The Merriam-Webster dictionary defines a hobby as “a pursuit outside one’s regular occupation, engaged in especially for relaxation.” Hobbies include anything from playing a musical instrument to gardening, bird watching or sewing. A hobby is a way of focusing on something you enjoy just for the sake of that enjoyment. It may also be a way to clear your mental palette. You could be stressed out by a situation at work or the challenges of raising children and need an escape.

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community through volunteering. You could go to the festival of lights at the zoo and volunteer there for a night or you could be the main character in a holiday play (even if it happens on Zoom). “It could be as simple as giving a gift to a child you do not know,” said King.


Response.

The eighth thing you should do is change your response to stressful situations. Cultivate the ability to unwind no matter what the setting may be.  Social distancing comes in handy. “If you are at a party, it is okay to not be the one in the center of attention; you might  be the one relaxing on the couch and watching everybody else,” said King.


Positive Attitude.

Ninth, do whatever you choose to take care of yourself. Last but not least, maintain a positive attitude. Try not to be anxious about seeing people you do not encounter often. Set aside differences and feel comfortable saying no if you must.


It is normal for money to be a stressor at this time of year. “One of the most stressful things for people is spending the money and then in January not knowing how they will pay their bills,” said King. Try to create and stick to a budget.


Be realistic. Realize nobody’s holiday is going to be perfect. The season can be filled with joy, but it can also be difficult for many people, and that is okay. Traditions and rituals are subject to change (how well we that know this year!). You do not want to feel overwhelmed or forced to partake in every activity. If you think you may need professional help to cope with the holiday season, make your therapy appointment now.    

The holidays can be a stressful time because people have so many obligations and opportunities going on, in addition to their usual workloads. Add in the COVID-19 pandemic, and this year you will need to be more vigilant than ever about your health – physical and mental.


“There are 10 evidence-based ways that people can build their resilience and protect their mental health during those months,” said Jill King with Mental Health America Northern Kentucky Southwest Ohio. “At the holidays there are a lot of extra expectations, whether it is related to gift giving, events, activities or the pressure of finances.”


Communication.

The first thing you should do is talk with friends and family. “Have one or two people that you can be totally honest with and have open, positive communication with them,” said King.


Exercise.

Next, get moving. “Exercise burns energy and keeps us healthy. If you do it for the next two to three days, your serotonin will increase,” said King. Most people find walking enjoyable, even if it’s for just 20 minutes in the morning or afternoon.


Sleep

Getting enough sleep is the third suggestion. The fourth is to

GETTING THROUGH THE HOLIDAYS

practice faith, spiritual beliefs, meditation or positive affirmations, King said. Staying positive is one of the greatest things you can do for your mental health during the holiday season, especially this year.


Hobbies.

“The fifth thing is to do enjoyable, satisfying things,” King said. “Some people get so tied up in their life that they do not have things they do on a regular basis that are enjoyable and satisfying.”  What works for one person may not work for another, so you have to find what helps you reduce stress.


Diet.

Sixth, improve your diet. The holidays are often filled with parties or buffets, so stay conscientious and choose items that are good for you. “Half the plate should be fruits and vegetables, a quarter lean meats and a quarter whole grains,” said King.


Volunteer.

The seventh way you can handle holiday hassles is by getting involved in the

JAMIE LOBER





Jamie Lober is a Staff Writer for Living Well 60+ Magazine