Today I thought we would talk about the importance of hobbies when you have chronic illnesses because honestly? They will keep you sane!
Before I got sick, I didn’t really have any hobbies, unless you count watching DVD box sets and walking. Though not walking anywhere particularly picturesque, more in order to stay fit I would walk instead of getting public transport.
When I had my first flare and had to move back to my parents, everything in my life changed, it was a real tower moment. I lost all the friends, my job, my home everything and I soon found myself looking for something to keep me sane.
This was especially so when it became clear that I could not work anymore, and my days started to merge into one. Society seems to think we all just sit on the sofa all day watching TV, but that soon gets boring as I thought people would have realised during the pandemic.
And just like in the pandemic, when people started taking up baking, or sewing etc, I soon realised that in order to survive I needed a hobby!
Luckily, we had the internet, if my life had changed just a couple of years before I wouldn’t have but everything happens just as it is meant to happen. I started looking around for hobbies I could do online, and found a few.
The first was keeping a Livejournal, which I guess would have been my first move into blogging. I loved sharing my journey and connecting with others who were experiencing the same.
As my experience grew, I would move to a website I made myself and then finally to WordPress which is where I have been ever since. This was the best hobby I could have found because it has given me a lovely community to learn and grow with. I have received so much support and I hope helped others.
I also found on MySpace, roleplaying which is where you write as a character, back then for me it was mainly as Buffy the Vampire Slayer characters. This was so much fun and I still do it now on a website that is made for it, as well as recently trying it in person. There is a Dr Who roleplaying game and I joined in a group which was a lot of fun and really helped my anxiety disorder to get out of the house.
I am also planning to learn how to draw, and I love adult colouring which really gets out my creative side. When my health allows me I am learning to sew over on my YouTube channel, which is another hobby that I love.
Hobbies can be used in so many ways to help enrich our lives but also as therapy tools, and ways to improve symptoms. I used my experience joining the Dr Who RPG, to do something away from my husband who is my carer and to get some independence.
I also had to ask for my own drink at the bar, which was a brilliant bit of therapy for me because speaking to people and social skills is not something I am good at. So, not only do hobbies allow you to find friends, and fill up a day that can be boring, they can be used to improve your health.
For me personally, I have found myself struggling with my mental health a lot over the years and I have needed to find something to help. Being involved in communities online around my hobbies have been so important to me having social time each day when I rarely have the chance to leave the house.
Often our mental health is put behind the experiences we have with our physical health, I found the freedom of finding my own hobbies really helped. It was like the world opened up again after being so closed down and made small by my chronic illnesses.
If you feel overwhelmed by how many possibilities there are, here are some tips:
- Improvements – look at what you want to improve, is it something physical, or maybe your social skills? Maybe it is your hands, or how far you can walk, no matter what you need to improve you will find something
- Get help – It doesn’t matter what calls to you, there might be charities or adaptations that make them accessible. For example, the Ablegamers charity help make gaming more accessible to prevent isolation and give people new skills. So, if there is a hobby you are interested in ask your occupational therapist, doctor, or ask in groups for your illness/disability for advice. The very thing you need to make it possible, might just be easier to get than you imagined.
- Interests – If there is too much choice out there have a think back to before you got sick. What were your interests then, and see if there is a way to still do them now or something similar that can be bought into your life.
- What do you have – I found that I already had a lot of crafting items in my home already and it helped me to get started. So, have a look around maybe an old Christmas or birthday present will suddenly take on new meaning for you?
- Go thrifting – I have found so many items in the charity shop that I can use for my hobbies. I do a thrift haul every month on my YouTube channel as that is another hobby of mine, but I find so many things in the charity shops or Ebay etc. So, if the money of a hobby makes it out of reach, see if you can find them second hand a fact many of us forget.
Don’t let worries or fears hold you back, if we have learned anything from things like Britain’s got talent or even the Paralympics humans can do surprising things! You might get told you cannot do something, but if you have the will you can find a way.
“Spending time on an activity that you enjoy can improve your mental health and wellbeing. In fact, people with hobbies may be less likely to experience stress, low mood, and depression. Activities that get you out and about can make you feel happier and more relaxed.“https://www.headtohealth.gov.au/living-well/purposeful-activity
My health does sometimes make it so I cannot do something for a while, but the importance of hobbies when you have chronic illnesses should not be ignored. There are so many things out there to do as a hobby that anyone can find something they can do.
I really hope this article helped you to see the importance of hobbies when you have chronic illnesses. Let me know the hobbies that you have and how they have helped you to improve your illness or just your life in general.
Thank you xx