Pursuing a passion for your mental health and wellbeing

Mental healthArticleMay 6, 2022

You probably hear talk of work/life balance, and you might wonder what it all really means. Is it possible to find an equal balance between the two? And does it mean just drifting between work and family responsibilities? If you suspect there might be more to it than that, then you’re right. There are a range of aspects to the concept of living a balanced life, and one of those is giving yourself some time out to do the things you enjoy.

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Finding a hobby

Is there anything you do just because you love doing it? Mental Health Clinician and Educator Geoffrey Ahern says there are lots of benefits to finding some fun passions in life. “One of the amazing benefits of having a hobby is that our bodies reward us with good chemicals and hormones when we lose ourselves in something,” he explains.

If you don’t already have a hobby, there are some ways to find something you love. Here are some ideas:

Do more of what you enjoy. Deep down, you probably know what it is you’d really have fun doing
If you’re not sure what those potential hobbies might be, get out and try some things. Try gardening, doing an art class, tinker with your car, go to a cooking class, volunteer at a nursing home, join a gym or any number of other activities that may or may not become a new part of your life. The point is to try. “Just keep trying new stuff until you find the one thing that sets your soul alight,” says Ahern.

Creating fun when you’re down

If you’re already experiencing some mental health challenges, you might feel some disinterest in taking on a hobby or trying to inject some fun into your life. There are ways to dig yourself out of that feeling, including:

Your family and friends can help encourage you. “One of the beautiful things about having a good community or network of friends and family around us is that they can help drag us up out of the gutter when we are feeling low and unmotivated,” Ahern says.
Talk yourself through it. “Self-talk is actually really important when we're struggling. And if you can't tell yourself, then write it down. Put up post-it notes on the back of the toilet door or the mirror in the bathroom with uplifting, thought-provoking and challenging words,” Ahern suggests. “Exposing yourself to these will help you.”

“But I’m too busy”

It’s normal to feel stressed or pressured in a world filled with peak hour traffic, bad news broadcasts and countless demands. Getting away from that stuff can help. “When we're engaging in something that we enjoy, the world becomes a better place, we lose ourselves in it and experience flow,” says Ahern of the things that take your mind off everything else around you.

And if you’re too busy to fit in a hobby, well, that’s a sign that you need to make the time now more than ever. Ahern says it’s better to stop now to do something you enjoy, rather than wait for what he describes as the inevitable warning signs. “If you don't somehow, in the midst of your busy lifestyle, find the time to slow down and start doing things that you enjoy, things that bring you a sense of pleasure and fulfilment, then your own body and mind will eventually rebel against you and force you to stop,” he says.

Quite simply, Ahern adds, you’ll be a better person, and a much better partner, parent, friend, community member and employee. And that’s worth taking a little time out to achieve.

This article was provided by our workplace mental health and wellbeing Partner, SuperFriend, and reproduced with their permission. SuperFriend, a national mental health organisation that helps workplaces. promote and support improved mental health and wellbeing for their employees.