Love shouldn’t hurt – ever

Fan your spark
I read this quote recently: “You often feel tired, not because you’ve done too much, but because you’ve done too little of what sparks a light in you” Alexander Den Heijer.
Let’s face it. Life, even on a good day, can be challenging. There are many things we are required to do and not a lot we get to really choose to do. Tiredness and just getting through the day becomes the norm. So how do you disentangle from the day’s requirements and fan the spark of joy inside?

Having a hobby is a great way to unwind from a demanding day. Spending time on an activity that you enjoy can improve your mental health and well-being. Research shows that people with hobbies are less likely to suffer from stress, low mood, and depression. Activities that get you out and about can make you feel happier and more relaxed. Recent studies have shown that spending time on creative activities during the day promotes a sense of well-being and has a positive effect on the day.

Loneliness is so prevalent in today’s society and can lead to multiple health issues, such as high blood pressure and obesity, and can increase your odds of early death. According to Julianne Holt-Lunstad, one study found that a long-term lack of social connections carries health risks equal to smoking 15 cigarettes a day. And that’s just physical health. Spending too much time apart from others can also put your brain at increased risk for depression, cognitive decline, and even dementia.

However, Ning Xia and Huige Li give us some good news: Positive relationships can make us happier and healthier. People with strong social relationships can even decrease their odds of early death by as much as 50%.Even better news: Your hobbies can help you build those relationships.

Hobbies are as varied as people. Interests can include athletics, music, creative outlets, or whatever personally interests you. It can be hobby you do alone or it can be part of a group. Whatever your interests are, there is sure to be a hobby out there for you. What matters is that it is something you find meaningful and enjoyable. When you get to choose to do something you enjoy, it does spark the light inside of you and lifts your mood. One study found that people who engage in the arts for about 8.5 hours a month report significantly better mental well-being compared with other types of engagement (BMC Public Health). Due to the creativity and focus that come with activities like these, they have long been linked to benefits like reducing stress and enhancing confidence.
How do you find a hobby? Start by thinking of your favorite interests. What do you enjoy? Do you enjoy art, drawing, photography, calligraphy? What about the theatre? Most communities have a theatre group so you could audition for a play. Do you love music? How about learning to play an instrument? Local libraries often offer craft groups where you can learn various skills such as crocheting, knitting, card making, etc. Do you enjoy baking breads or cakes? Maybe you can share your baked goods with charities or shelters near you.

What if you haven’t found your niche in the things mentioned above. Don’t give up. Try a different skill. Maybe quilting, woodworking, gardening, or preserving food is up your alley. Check out classes offered at your local community college, library, or community center. Options may include learning a new language, creative writing, website development, culinary classes, or ceramics just to name a few. And if you prefer time with furry friends over people friends, that’s OK. Pets can help improve your health, too. Check with your local animal shelter for volunteer opportunities.
So, what’s the bottom line? Don’t just go through the motions of each day and allow the life to be sucked out of you. Pursue your passions! Find your niche! And then you will be able to enjoy all the benefits that come with doing what you love.

Crisis Services of North Alabama offers free services to victims of intimate partner violence or sexual assault in a safe, confidential setting. You may reach us at our Jackson County office for an appointment at 256.574.5826 or speak with a trained crisis counselor on our 24/7 HELPline at 256.716.1000.

-Teresia Smith

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