August 11, 2020

Can A Hobby Help Your Sanity & Productivity?

John Donohue worked as an editor at the New Yorker for more than twenty years, however his job became redundant and five years ago he lost his job. What helped keep him sane as he transitioned into being a stay-at-home dad? He started doodling.

John Donahue’s Dish Rack, March 18, 2020

Eventually he got in the habit of drawing his kitchen disk rack when he was stressed as a way to reset his brain. Over the past couple years, he has drawn it thousands of times. He said that during New York City’s lockdown this spring, he was sometimes drawing it two or three times a day.

He learned the same thing that a 2015 study from the University of Merced concluded: a small hobby (such as cooking, gardening, sewing, drawing, puzzles etc.) done consistently can make a big difference when it comes to maintaining productive and focus. People with hobbies also reported improved moods and less stress and exhibited lower heart rates.

The head of the study, Dr. Matthew J. Zawadzki, “The thing that came out in the studies was this: ‘How much are you able to get outside of your head?’” Especially during this time of big changes and uncertainty, being able to take a step back and refocus is extremely valuable.

How can you learn to take mental breaks with a hobby? Highlighting the medical angle, Dr. Zawadzki suggests, “Write yourself a prescription that says, ‘I’m going to take 10 minutes, three times a week. That is my time.’” With what result? “When we come back from doing leisure, we’re often re-engaged, we’re better able to concentrate and we’re in a better mood, so the first thing is to give yourself permission to do it.”

“When we come back from doing
leisure, we’re often re-engaged,
we’re better able to concentrate”

John Donohue says, “I knew that drawing could change my mood. When I started doing it on a regular basis, I discovered it could change my life.” What hobby would you like to prescribe yourself to up your productivity?

What hobby would you like to prescribe yourself to up your productivity?

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