I recently received a text from a lawyer friend telling me she wants to take hip-hop classes.
“But I’m afraid I’ll make a fool of myself,” she said.
As with many other attorneys, my friend regularly works 60+ hour weeks. When we get together, she can’t help but talk about her never-ending workload. How can she not? This is an all-consuming profession, as most lawyers will admit.
Which is why I told her she has to take those dance classes.
“You need a hobby that will completely take your mind off work,” I said.
Career coaches and business leaders alike say that having a hobby is key to being able to handle work-life stress. Take Facebook co-founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg, who says that having a hobby shows a prospective employer that you have passion and drive — not to mention give you an edge in interviews..
Having a hobby is a great way to relieve stress. Hobbies provide a creative outlet and opportunities to meet new people.
And they’re crucial to have if you want to (finally) maintain the work-life balance you’ve heard so much about.
What is a hobby?
Hobbies are simply anything you do that’s for fun. They’re not about getting paid or boosting your portfolio. It is simply an activity that you do in your free time that helps you decompress and connect with other people.
Boom. It’s that simple.
Not only will hobbies make you happier and provide you with something fun to do, but they can improve your life in three simple ways:
Hobbies improve physical health
A hobby doesn’t have to be physically demanding to improve your health (though many of our Leaders in the Law have said that running is their ultimate vice.)
In a study by the National Institutes of Health, researchers surveyed about 1,400 people who said that when they engaged in “enjoyable leisure activities” (i.e., a hobby) they had lower blood pressure, total cortisol and their body mass index dropped.
In other words, even low-movement hobbies such as knitting, crafting and or playing an instrument are connected to better health.
Hobbies reduces stress
Engaging in a “mentally stimulating hobby” reduces stress, according to research by Matthew Zawadzki, a health psychologist at the University of California, Merced.
Zawadzki’s study shows that leisure activity can provide immediate stress relief, which has been shown to have numerous health and psychological benefits, like improved focus, happiness and a longer life.
This is partially due to the mental respite hobbies allow your brain to take from other stressors in life, like errands and taxes.
Or the law.
Hobbies can improve work performance
As an added bonus, having a non-work-related hobby can improve your professional life, as well. A study of 400 employees published in the Journal of Occupational and Organizational Psychology found many differences between workers who engage in hobbies and those who don’t, including feeling more creative in work-related projects and having a better attitude on the job.
Other research shows that employees with hobbies are more satisfied with their jobs and have a lower likelihood of burning out.
Choosing your hobby
The sky’s the limit when picking up a hobby. But if you’re struggling to choose one, write down a list of things that you enjoy. Write down a list of jobs that you wanted to be when you grew up. Write down a list of things that you’ve always wanted to do.
Then make plans to finally do them.
Boom. Hobby acquired.