If you’re not improving you’re falling behind.
This is one of my maxims. It has proven useful as it always encourages me to learn, grow, and try new things. I’m always on the lookout for a book I should be reading. Or working on side projects to improve my skills.
My maxim leads to an attitude that the day should be spent being productive. While I have no intention of changing this attitude, there is a drawback in that it causes stress. I’m not against leisure time. The body and mind need rest to recover so that they can be productive. But with my maxim when I try to relax I feel like I’m wasting time. I feel something gnawing at me to do something. I should be improving my fitness, gaining skills to be better at my job, or studying the Bible, if I’m not improving I’m falling behind.
This usually leads to a pattern of high productivity for a given period of time followed by a crash. This is a detrimental cycle to have in life. It’s emotionally unstable with highs and lows, plus it makes it difficult to execute long-term goals. It shortens your time frames. In the end, this type of emotional instability is unproductive.
As a strategy to deal with this, I have discovered a few activities I enjoy.
I describe a hobby as something you do for its own sake. There’s no goal to it, except maybe to get better at it. Getting good at a hobby is unlikely to have any major ramifications on your life. It’s not going to lead to promotion. It’s not going to improve some other aspect of your life. It’s just something fun you like to do. A hobby gives you the opportunity to focus on, and forget about all the other predicaments you have going on.
There are other ways to relieve stress. Meditation is big right now. I feel like every week I hear about some new meditation app that will help me to focus and calm down. I’ve done them and I just find them weird. People will also tell you to go for a walk, but this feels unproductive. And then there’s the advice to go have a drink, which will relax you, or more likely numb you, but drinking is hardly a long-term solution. They actually have a name for when drinking becomes a long-term solution: alcoholism.
A hobby is a nice middle ground. You can feel accomplished, but you still get your mind off things. My hobby of choice has been relief carving. It’s not possible to multi-task while carving it requires both hands and focus. When I’m done, I have a carving to show for my efforts.
I’ve heard people claim that watching TV or playing video games is their hobby. Sure, okay. But to me, TV is not engaging enough. I feel unproductive and end up on my phone or looking for something else to do. With video games I have the opposite problem, they’re too productivity-based by design. I end up getting stressed out because I need to unlock that next thing. Also, a good hobby can make you interesting, which can help with conversations and dating. TV and video games is hardly a hobby worth bragging about.
If you’re the type of person who struggles with stress having four good productive weeks followed by a crash week. Or constantly worrying about failing or not getting things done, let me suggest you find a hobby.
A few tips for hobbies. I would pick something you have to focus on. Multitasking is not relaxing. Finding a hobby that Includes a physical or tactile element helps. Something that involves multiple senses can immerse you in what you’re doing. And it should be somewhat frivolous. The more utility you get out of a hobby, the less of a hobby it is.
Hopefully, you have a method for recovering and refocusing after a hard day’s work. If you do please put it in the comments below, don’t keep your wisdom all to yourself.
If you don’t and you find yourself overworking and burning out, consider picking up a hobby.