By Mallika Bhatia
“An activity done during our free time, for pleasure,” is how the dictionary defines a hobby. It is that, of course, but it is also so much more. A hobby is an activity done for the pleasure of remaining sane, getting in touch with your inner self, finding an expression of your thoughts, indulging in alone time, being so completely involved in something that it transforms you and takes you to another world; it is an extension of who you are. It is the art of creating and collecting, it is a way of assimilating and acquiring and it is something that gives us a sense of freedom and fun. Woo, did I just use an entire paragraph to define a hobby?! I guess I did, and it deserves that description and more.
As a practicing therapist, I can tell that hobbies help in keeping stress levels under check. It is something I regularly prescribe to my clients who are dealing with anxiety-based disorders. Hobbies also help in developing patience, social skills, self-esteem and confidence. Following a hobby is something that I try to persuade everyone around me to do, not as a leisurely activity, but almost as essential.
I also take my own advice very seriously and pursue some hobbies like a second and third profession. Here is a list of things that I love to do and can easily take out the time for even after being a mother, a life coach, a blogger, a writer and an avid traveler.
Why am I sharing my own list?
Because I want to motivate you. I want to tell you that it is important to take time out for yourself. I know you can do it and it would hugely benefit you and your family as well. Involve your children if you like. I involve my child in some of my hobbies and I know she loves it. It helps us connect more, share a passion and we love doing things together. I am also sharing to give you some ideas for a hobby that you might like to pick up.
I love to cook and bake. For every birthday in the family, I try to create joy in the form of cakes. I enjoy it so much that I have been asked by my friends to do cakes for their birthdays, baby showers, anniversaries and other special occasions. I involve my child in measuring the ingredients and licking off the batter. It makes everyone happy.
I love to read. When I am travelling, you will rarely find me without a book; real books and my Kindle both work for me. Books take me another world where I am alone and yet I am surrounded by so many stories. Thankfully, my child loves to read. I can very proudly say that she has more books than dresses. Monkey see, monkey do, works very well here.
I enjoy gardening. Almost every room in my apartment has a plant or two. Growing things is something I can happily do alone but often involve my child in. I love the sound of my voice when I tell my partner ‘I need some mint and coriander, can you please pluck some from the balcony and bring it’ or when I need to pack a snack box for my child and I just go to the balcony and pluck some cherry tomatoes and radishes.
I like painting even though I am not brilliant at it. I paint anything I can get my hands on. I have painted canvases, our coffee mugs, our plant pots, candle holders, ceramic bowls and even my cake platter. I shameless display them all. They are my creations and I am absolutely proud of them. How do I involve my child? Simply by letting her paint things of her own.
I am hopelessly in love with writing, a sample of which you are currently reading. I write for newsletters, I write blogs, I write for newspapers, I contribute to websites, not to mention my book, which I am almost about to finish. Basically, wherever there are people who read, I write. Writing is very cathartic. It is also something that most of my clients are asked to do. They don’t have to share, but they must write.
I love to sing and dance. Dancing is something that my child enjoys immensely as well. Even though I am trained in an Indian classical dance form, when my child and I break into crazy dancing sessions in our kitchen and sing along to songs at the top of our voices, it is no form of dance. It is just pure joy. Trust me, we may not sound melodious, but we have fun. We also sing on the way to and back from kindergarten. The power of music is another inspiration I often ask my clients to use. I must share a personal experience here: once my child had very high fever. She was so uncomfortable that she had woken up from sleep and could not go back to sleep again. Both me and my husband were with her, trying to help her little body to relax. After about thirty minutes, which was at about 12:30am, she looked at me and said, ‘Amma, can you please sing for me?’ I sang and she slept. Such is the power of music.
I motivate and inspire. That’s the last hobby I would list, because it is what I want to do through this piece. I want you to take time out for yourself. Five minutes a day, or five hours a week; it doesn’t matter, just take time out and pursue things that make your heart happy. A happy heart is always a happy home.
Mallika Bhatia is Life Coach with a Master’s in Clinical Psychology and a Diploma in Hypnotherapy, with more than 13 years of experience in this field. She is a writer, a blogger, and a published author with regular dedicated columns in two National Dailies in India. She also manages The Hope Tribe, a platform to share true stories of people who overcame obstacles and became real heroes. She practices in Munich at her office in NeuHarlaching or over Skype/FaceTime. Her website has more details about her work & for regular doses of wisdom, like & follow her on Facebook.