Why We Need Hobbies

These creative outlets give us a way to unwind and re-energize
By Donna Martelli
Donna Martelli
Donna Martelli
Donna Martelli, formerly a professional dancer with the Harkness Ballet of New York, served on the dance faculty at Butler University, Indianapolis, and is now also a certified personal trainer, and certified Pilates instructor in Indianapolis, IN. She conducts classes, seminars, and workshops in the U.S. and Europe. She is the author of “When God Says Drop It” and “Why the Dance,” available on Amazon and wherever books are sold.
August 30, 2021 Updated: September 2, 2021

Filling out various questionnaires and applications in life, there is often this one nagging question:

Hobbies? ____________________________________________________

I never had real hobbies, so when I came across that annoying question, I would write in something nondescript like reading or decorating. I’ve always wanted to make lovely things but that is a vague concept that can cover many activities that might be classified as hobbies.

The COVID-19 quarantine of 2020 transformed by hobby situation. “Making things lovely” was still the foundation but now I had two new bona fide hobbies that were born during the pandemic.

Somewhere along the way, a proverbial light bulb illuminated my brain and I realized how hobbies enrich our lives like nothing else can. I feel happy and at peace when I am working in these newly beloved hobbies. I have friends with this same testimony of discovery during 2020. Many people took this unsettling time to weigh what matters most in life and get rid of frills, embrace a healthier lifestyle, and start something new, be it course, business, or hobby.

There’s nothing like creativity. In fact, the literal definition of being creative is to bring forth something new and unique. I used to think that hobbies were for retirees who had nothing more to look forward to in life. With their quiet and relaxed lives, maybe hobbies could fill the hours and even add a little flavor to their days. I’ve since discovered my view of hobbies was shallow indeed.

Even busy people, with mega-stressful lives, need hobbies—maybe even more than the average person. Why? People who engage in an interesting hobby for at least twenty minutes a week tend to be more energetic for their other activities. That’s a small investment for the rewards that a hobby promises.

Need your batteries recharged? Work in your hobby and let it strengthen you even as it fills your heart and mind with something you genuinely enjoy. Our hobbies give us a desperately needed break from routines and let us connect with something life-affirming inside us. Hobbies give us permission to relax in the present and engage all our faculties. Hobbies can provide a break with a purpose as we use our downtime to do something productive. And hobbies come with wonderful side-effects, besides a new winter hat or box of cookies to share (depending on your hobby), we gain immense satisfaction and overall joy. Hobbies can give us quiet time to relax our minds as we occupy our hands, or social time to connect and create with like-hearted people who share our passion.

For people with somewhat dull, uninspiring lives, hobbies break up the monotony without feeling like work. They can provide a little challenge and excitement about life without being overbearing.

Hobbies are gratifying to our souls. It is delightful to be in the zone and lose track of time, totally removed from the stressors of life and fully engaged in what we are doing. This has happened to me more times than I can remember.

When I was quarantined in 2020, I learned about landscaping and gardening and began my new outdoor adventure. I had to be creative where I was, and I was at home. Pulling weeds, clearing my yard of sticks, arranging stones, and adding mulch and borders became my new hobby and it gave me such pleasure.

Hand-in-hand with landscaping and gardening, I am also delighted to have discovered “rockhounding.” If you are unfamiliar with the term it means “the activity of searching for and collecting rocks, fossils, or minerals.” I have done this since childhood. I remember my mom was often frustrated with all the rocks I brought home from my adventures and hoarded in my bedroom.

Rock display 4 w bird
Display author made in her back yard with rocks and a ceramic bird. (Photo by Donna Martelli)

During lockdown, I fell in love with rocks again and began collecting any that seemed interesting or odd in some way. Then I made displays and pretty things with them. Déjà vu! I heard the words of my mom but this time they were coming from my husband, “You know if we move, those rocks stay!” I just looked at him, like I had looked at her.

So, what is your hobby? If you have one that you love, see where it will take you. Try new ideas or approaches and develop that hobby to the hilt! You can discover new potential in it right where you are.

If you are like I was and think that you don’t have, or even need a hobby, think again. Hobbies give you a rejuvenating and uplifting outlet for creativity. What do you love? What are you especially good at? What brings you pleasure? Don’t be afraid to experiment. If something sounds interesting, take a class, learn something new, or try some previously unknown activity each week. I am confident that you will find a fulfilling hobby that will bring your soul peace and joy.

Donna Martelli
Donna Martelli
Donna Martelli, formerly a professional dancer with the Harkness Ballet of New York, served on the dance faculty at Butler University, Indianapolis, and is now also a certified personal trainer, and certified Pilates instructor in Indianapolis, IN. She conducts classes, seminars, and workshops in the U.S. and Europe. She is the author of “When God Says Drop It” and “Why the Dance,” available on Amazon and wherever books are sold.