Starting New Hobbies in Retirement

According a recent article published in The Conversation, retirement initially brings excitement as it frees us from strict work schedules. But, over time, it can be difficult to fill free time because idle activities like watching TV lose their appeal. It’s also important that we stay physically and mentally active.

Hobbies time are said to enhance our well-being by enhancing brain function, social skills, and motor skills. According to a 2022 study, hobby time is associated with reduced depression symptoms and increased sense of health, happiness, life satisfaction. Many older people reportedly don’t take up new hobbies at their older age, fearing that they are not like they were when young. This “fear of trying new things” may lead to an increased feeling of loneliness and isolation.

Alison Bishop, a lecturer in Positive Psychology Coaching, University of East London, and author of the article, recommends the following five tips to help pick up a new retirement habit:

  • Broaden your strengths. From a young age, our perception of our strengths is often influenced by subjects in which we excelled in school. Positive psychology’s “theory of strengths” suggests a broader definition, including traits like curiosity, kindness, and bravery. When choosing a hobby, this theory encourages considering strengths beyond traditional skills. For example, if kindness is seen as a strength, one might explore hobbies involving outreach, charity work, or spending time with those who are housebound.
  • Find activities you already enjoy. According to the “broaden and build theory,” experiencing positive emotions such as joy or love enhances our openness to new experiences and behaviors. Reflecting on moments of happiness or affection in life can serve as a catalyst for starting new hobbies. For example, if someone finds joy in countryside walks, this theory suggests they might be inclined to join a rambling club.
  • Remember moments you’ve lost track of time. Using “flow theory,” find activities that fully engage you, striking a balance between challenge and personal significance. Reflect on moments where time seemed to vanish during activities. Identify common themes like creativity or physicality to uncover hobbies aligned with your interests.
  • Be kind to yourself. “Self-compassion theory” stresses treating ourselves kindly, avoiding self-criticism and unrealistic standards when evaluating strengths. Acknowledging our imperfections as part of humanity fosters connections with others. Emphasizing kindness over performance in activities offers a more meaningful motivation to engage.
  • Imagine your perfect day. Positive psychology advises crafting your ideal average day narrative and actively living it, integrating hobbies aligned with your expanded strengths and fostering kindness towards yourself and others. Setting goals, for retirement or hobbies, adds depth and meaning, revealing the interconnectedness of life aspects. Short-term goals, like seeking help from fellow club members, emerge, igniting hope and guiding a fulfilling retired life.

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