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Hobby Development: It's not just for kids!

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"We don't stop playing because we grow old, we grow old because we stop playing" Benjamin Franklin

Life is short, and each day we only incorporate things we value into our lives. For many adults, with and without disabilities, the benefits of play is not recognized and thus not valued and does not become a part of their life. Play can be a spontaneous activity with no identified purpose other than "just for the fun of it," or it can be a planned, structured activity such as golf. The value of play gives opportunity for developing friendships, staying physically active, being creative, relaxing, learning, and getting along with other people.

But too many adults stop playing or feel guilty playing once they have the responsibilities of work, starting a family, and adjusting to the busy life of a "grown up." But not engaging in active play has its consequences. The American Journal of Preventive Medicine recently released a study that compared men who play video games against men who are not video gamers. They found that the men who played video games had a higher body mass index (BMI) than those who did not play, and found that women who played video games had more depression and a poorer self-health perception than women who did not play. The study also indicated that both genders who played the video games relied on the Internet for social support.

So, perhaps you are beginning to think about your own play behavior. The most important thing to look for is finding balance. There are three areas to assess to find that balance.

First, explore your interest in current hobbies that fall into the following four categories:
1.Collect hobbies (coins, baseball cards, miniatures, buttons, snowmen)
2.Make hobbies (woodworking, quilting, baking, crafts, painting)
3.Do hobbies (skating, play the guitar, golf, fish, walk, workout, chess)
4.Learning hobbies (read, travel, Discovery channel, history buff)

Second, look at the basic needs we all have, and see if your play meets the needs:
1.social needs Unlike animals, we need a certain amount of interaction with others.
2.physical need We have a need to move for our health.
3.expressive need Our need to express ourselves through music, art, poetry, baking, writing
4.intellectual need We have a need to learn and grow throughout our lives. Keeping the mind alert can slow down signs of dementia or Alzheimers disease.

Third, look at who you play with. The areas to look for to find balance is:
1.Individual play reading, cooking, walking
2.Leisure partner movies, plays, concerts, hikes, dinner out, vacations
3.Family play your parents, your children, grandparents, siblings
4.Friends socials, spectator sports, cook outs

Lastly, find activities or hobbies that achieves "flow". Psychologist Mike Csikentmihalyi describes "flow" as a "heightened and pleasurable sense of concentration with an optimal experience." This "flow" is what children experience during their typical play. So the next time your child says, "Dad, will you play with me?" take the opportunity to experience the "flow" with your child. You won't regret it!

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