Winston Churchill’s favorite pastimes were landscaping, painting, reading, and playing polo. He once said, “To be really happy and really safe, one ought to have at least two or three hobbies, and they must all be real. It is no use starting late in life to say: ‘I will take an interest in this or that.’”
Activities purely for enjoyment’s sake are essential to personal growth. Plus, offline recreation helps prevent technology addiction and its key symptoms of restlessness and distractibility. Replacing some social media time with unplugged leisure will pay dividends in health benefits.
Minimalists are uniquely equipped to pursue hobbies. Minimalism rejects the clutter, distractions, and skewed priorities that steal attention in consumerist society. Minimalist lifestyles free up time and energy for high-quality leisure activities that are vital to our mental and physical health. Hobbies are especially important because the creative, intellectual, and physical skills we strengthen during recreation carry over to improve our personal and professional lives.
Our chosen pastimes don’t need to burden us with clutter or deplete our bank accounts and environmental resources. Here are six strategies for approaching hobbies with an eco-minimalist mindset:
1. Choose leisure activities wisely
Prevent clutter from abandoned hobbies by picking the right activities for you. Explore interests that provide a sense of flow. The flow concept was introduced by psychologist Mihály Csikszentmihalyi as a highly focused mental state. Activities we can fully immerse ourselves in allow us to separate from our stressors.
Follow Churchill’s advice and seek multiple hobbies, perhaps a combination of solitary and social activities that will develop a range of cognitive, creative, and physical skills. Churchill also cautioned against pressuring ourselves to be interested in areas that don’t really appeal to us. It’s okay to be the only one in the office who isn’t into golf or CrossFit.
2. Aim for attainable accomplishments
Set specific intentions for your leisure activities. Whether your goal is mastering the guitar solo from “Let it Be” or the science of chocolate soufflés, meaningful objectives are motivating. We’re more likely to stick with a hobby when the results are personally satisfying.
3. Add recreation to your calendar
Scheduled leisure time can brighten an entire day. Mundane chores and errands become more bearable when a poker night, yoga class, or art journaling session is next on the agenda. If you need a quiet hour for solo recreation arrange it in advance with anyone affected.
4. Invest time before money
Try to resist buying unnecessary supplies for new hobbies. If shopping for tennis outfits excites you more than playing tennis then tennis probably isn’t the right hobby for you.
Whenever possible, save your money and conserve environmental resources by exploring new interests with borrowed, rented, or secondhand supplies. Don’t be afraid to ask around for everything from bowling balls to bread machines.
My mom and I spent years making holiday cards and scrapbook pages using a box of secondhand craft products that a neighbor destashed. It rarely makes sense to invest in high-end gear before you’ve made a long-term commitment to your hobby.
5. Set boundaries
Recreation should help us recharge without causing unnecessary stress from decision overload. Establishing parameters for your time, materials, and budget actually increases creativity and focus. Challenge yourself to create artwork in under an hour with limited supplies or choreograph a dance using whichever song is next on your playlist.
6. Donate and share materials responsibly
Durable hobby supplies that you only use occasionally are perfect additions to your community’s sharing economy. My dad lends woodworking tools and my husband does the same with photography equipment. Some neighbors loan camping and snowboarding gear.
Items you don’t use or admire are just clutter. Admit to yourself when you’ve outgrown a hobby and then give someone else an opportunity to benefit from your supplies. Sell or donate excess recreation gear that is still in good condition. Although it’s tempting to quickly dispose of everything in a thrift store’s donation bin, spend an extra minute making sure they’ll accept your art supplies or sports equipment. If not, the ideal recipient could be right around the corner. Send a quick email to a local school, sports team, or senior center to ask if they’re interested.
Hobbies are a form of self-care that add immeasurable value to our lives. This eco-minimalist approach offers additional bonuses of clutter-free homes and positive environmental impacts. Enjoy your leisure time!
About the Author: Leslie Watson is an elementary school teaching assistant also pursuing environmental journalism. She writes articles and Instagram posts about sustainability, low waste living, minimalism, non-consumerism, and daily uniform dressing. For more of Leslie’s articles and updates visit her Instagram handle, @LessHasteAndLessWaste, and Linktree.