Running was very important to me as a new mom. When my son was born, life revolved around him. Feeding, changing, rocking, googling whether something was normal. “Is he breathing?” Phew. The person I was before him almost flew out the window. But running was my me time. It was an old familiar comfort where I was myself again and helped me to reconnect. It helped me be a better mom.
It’s easy for us to let work, busy schedules, and even parenting take over and lose our sense of self in the process. We find ourselves stretched thin with little time to recharge. Because of this, it’s become more popular for people to tell you how important it is to say no to things more often. I know I’ve written about it before.
While it’s true that maybe you should say no more often, I don’t only encourage you to say no. I encourage you to say no and then use that time to do something for yourself, such as a hobby. Whether it’s a physical activity such as running, or something else such as sewing or playing piano. It’s your “me” time, and not just something else you need to get done in the day.
Making Time for Yourself
Making this time for yourself will benefit you in so many ways, including:
1. Encouraging a state of flow.
Hobbies have the power of putting you into a state of flow. Flow is a mental state in which you are fully immersed or “in the zone.” It’s often associated with enjoyment and happiness. It’s a state that leaves you invigorated and has been found to increase concentration, self-esteem, and performance.
Writing, drawing, riding a horse, playing a game of chess, all of these things can put you in a state of flow. And, when you are in this state, you are present. Which, means you aren’t worried about a conversation you had with your boss or what you are going to cook for dinner.
As crazy as it might sound, running can put me into a state of flow. Whether I’m doing intervals and trying to keep a certain pace or focusing on my breathing. It leaves me feeling energized and refreshed.
2. Promoting positive stress.
Hobbies promote positive stress while relieving bad stress at the same time. Positive stress is a good type of stress that makes us view problems more like challenges. It keeps us excited about life. When engaging in a hobby you are destressing by taking a break from all the other stuff you have to do. Yet, you’re still doing something with a purpose. Something that has it’s own challenges, which promotes positive stress.
The stress relief is good for both physical and mental health. Meanwhile, the sense of purpose will leave you much more fulfilled.
This feeling will carry over into other areas of your life as well. You’ll be passionate about something, which energizes and lifts your spirits even when you aren’t doing that activity. It’s something in your day to look forward to.
3. Helping with self-identity.
Participating in a hobby makes you feel better after a tough day, but not just because it distracts you and helps with stress. It also positively affects your sense of self. Feeling defined by one thing can lead to anxiety, depression, and burnout. You don’t have to be a new mom to experience this. Life can easily become all about work, or clothes, or whatever else you are chasing.
If a certain area of your life defines you, it’s going to be a bigger blow to your self-esteem when things aren’t going quite right. For example, perhaps you had a tough day at work or someone made an offhand comment about your wardrobe.
If this area is only one aspect of who you are, it will be much easier to get past. Maybe you are also a wonderful baker or enjoy playing tennis. That tough day at work or bad remark won’t be as hard on you because it’s not your entire self-identity. There are many more pieces of your life that make up who you are.
4. Fostering social connection.
I enjoy talking, reading, and hearing other people talk about running. When someone else enjoys running, I feel a little more connected to them.
Whatever the hobby, chances are, there are other people that are also interested in it. These interests will connect you to them. You may find yourself in conversation with someone that you wouldn’t normally be in. Not only will it give you something to talk about, it will be something you enjoy talking about.
Is there something that you’ve always wanted to do but you just don’t have the time? Put yourself first for a bit, and make the time. The benefits are worth it.