Today’s big idea is that most people think self-care means getting a massage, or a pedicure, or taking a yoga class. But little things like doodling, cooking, and even stamp collecting can help you keep yourself in a good spot. Yep, hobbies are way more than just ways to pass the time and can totally count as self-care. Pursuing self-care hobbies brings you into this present moment, and the present is always where healing and restoration happens. They can also get your brain waves settled in to better patterns and help you think differently and entertain new perspectives.
Listen to the Podcast Here
So maybe if the thought of meditating or exercising or eating healthy aren’t appealing to you for whatever reason, you can get into self-care through a different door. And that is by allowing yourself to spend time doing one or some of your hobbies.
Two hobbies I’ve been spending time doing these last couple of weeks are playing Boggle with Friends (after Terri Trespicio told me about it when I interviewed her for the podcast in episode 364), and jigsaw puzzles. And you know what? Boggle is helping me see patterns–when a seven letter word clicks into view it’s like my brain gets an amazing stretch. I also get to engage with friends in a different way.
Boggle has brought my and Terri’s relationship to a new place because I started using the power-ups, assuming that she was too. And then she found out I was using them and was like, wait, that’s cheating! So we’ve been having this big discussion about the ethics of using power ups and negotiating which ones we would use and which ones we wouldn’t and also having this low-stakes conversation about trust…
And puzzles are something I can do alone, which I love
But also, something I can do with the kids, which I also love. When we work on a puzzle together, we get to inhabit those quiet brain waves together. It’s relaxing, it’s rewarding, and it is a very visual and tangible reminder that little bits of work here and there add up to something impressive. Puzzles also help you see that it is possible to turn the chaos of 1000 separate pieces into a cohesive whole. Something we can all use right about now.
Science backs me up on this:
A study by researchers at Drexel University looked at the EEGs of 30 students while they worked on puzzles, and found that finding a piece lights up reward systems in the brain. Working on a puzzle has also been shown to lower blood pressure, boost memory and problem-solving skills. Plus, it’s just relaxing.
But maybe you hate puzzles. That’s fine. I know there’s are self-care hobbies out there for you, or maybe one you used to do that haven’t done in forever that’s just waiting to help you relax and have flashes of insight.
I asked listeners to share some of their self-care hobbies they do that helps them feel like better people.
And I got such a broad array of responses.
One podcast listener, Kevin, shares about how stamp collecting makes him a better person:
I started collecting stamps when I was a little boy. They just show up on envelopes that came to your house or to your grandmother’s house or to your neighbor’s house. And you could ask your grandmother and neighbor to save them for you. It didn’t cost anything. And baseball cards costs money. Cutting coins, well, that cost money too. It wasn’t money, but stamps were just everywhere.
That’s the thing about stamps. They mostly don’t have any monetary value, especially after they’re used. Sure. There’s some rare, valuable stamps, like an inverted flying jenny that might be worth thousands of dollars. But most stamps really aren’t worth anything. They’re everyday objects that are printed in the millions that are available to anybody who wants to take the time to save them. Stamps can be a solitary, almost meditative activity that you can do on your own, in the quiet of your own personal space. But it could also be a way to engage with people all around the world. If you want to.
Can collecting stamps help you to become a better person?
No. Well, let me think. Here’s a stamp from the 1970s, celebrating workers unions. Here’s another one celebrating environmental protections. And here’s another one celebrating family planning. We don’t have those kinds of stamps in the 2020s, but every one of them, the good ones and the bad ones and the boring ones and the brilliant ones all exist for a purpose. And they all ask questions. And if you’re willing to seek the answers to those questions, then I think you are probably on the road to being a better person.
Daily Tiny Assignment
Your tiny assignment is to spend a little time doing something you consider to be a self-care hobby. Pretty much anything that requires a modicum of skill goes here–knitting, drawing, coloring, playing with plants. And set aside any feelings of guilt about spending your time on something non-work-related by reframing it as self-care. I’m willing to bet you have some kind of thought or insight while you do it that will help you see something in your life with new, more expansive eyes.
Come back tomorrow!
When I’m making a controversial argument–that doing household chores are a form of self-care too.
And next week, I’m covering things people have given up in the name of being a better person. If you’ve got a story about this you’re open to sharing, record a voice memo on your phone and send it to me at email@example.com, and you could be on a future podcast!