Most times, ‘leisure’ doesn’t mean sitting around doing nothing. Often, leisure can refer to an activity that rejuvenates you and helps you step back from the things that build up stress (work, relationships, pondering life, etc.).
In the book Pope Francis: His Life in His Own Words, the leader of the Catholic Church noted, “Together with a culture of work there must be a culture of leisure as gratification. To put it another way: People who work must take the time to relax, to be with their families, to enjoy themselves, read, listen to music, play a sport.”
Basically, you need a hobby. (Btw, Pope Francis’s hobby is being an avid fan of the San Lorenzo Football Club.)
Most people probably associate a hobby with an artsy or creative activity like painting, photography, or playing an instrument. But if you aren’t artistically inclined, you might be left wondering how to make the most of your free time. Creative hobbies aren’t the only options. So if you need a new activity to help even the scale of work-life balance, try one of these instead.
Learn a new language
Taking on something completely new may not sound like a leisurely activity — but there are so many health benefits! And learning something at self-paced speed removes a lot of the stress you might associate with school-based learning. Research has shown that learning new, mentally challenging skills as an adult can keep your mind sharp and slow the rate at which your brain will age. Instead of binge-watching Netflix, tune into some Spanish 101 instead, watch your favorite movie with foreign subtitles, or check out international cuisine restaurants. You’ll broaden your knowledge without adding work stress, and your brain will thank you later, too.
Play video games
Video game players are not as socially isolated as many people think. In fact, 70 percent of all gamers play with at least one other person. Many games, such as World of Warcraft, connect a network of millions of players. More recently, e-sport games have made it all the way to the college stage as a spectator sport with national competitions.
Multiplayer games offer an infinite virtual reality — not only a place to connect with others online but also participate in an alternate story. In the video game “Re-Mission,” child cancer patients can control a tiny robot that shoots cancer cells and other things related to treatments. The average age of a gamer worldwide is 31, but games allow you to be almost any character you can dream up.
Think playing video games is as lethargic as watching TV? Think again. Multiple studies have shown that video games require attentiveness and occasionally even demand problem solving skills. Another study seems to prove that playing video games is actually good for your health! What better way to spend your free time?
Join an adult sports league
Everyone knows that exercise is good for both your physical health and a good stress reliever, but did you know that you can take up a sport as a hobby? Organized sports aren’t just for youths — there are adult leagues for dozens of sports in large cities and small towns. You can find them everywhere from your gym to your church. Not to mention the awesome benefits of getting fit in your 20s.
Have you thought about giving your free time to someone else? If you volunteer, chances are it won’t feel like you’re giving something away. The benefits of helping others are for real.
Service might lead you to interact with people you aren’t used to interacting with — but don’t be intimidated! Research has shown that stepping out of your comfort zone is very important for growth at any time of your life. There are endless opportunities to donate your time and talents to make a difference in your community. Contact your local Catholic Charities office for ideas on how you could volunteer your time.
If you’re worried about trying something new on your own, try a site like Meet Up, dedicated to connecting people with shared interests — without a focus on romance.
Whatever you decide to do this weekend, a new hobby will benefit you in more ways than one. So turn off the screen, and find something fun to do instead!