None of us likes it when work ruins our vacation. So the next time your boss asks you to work late, skip a band rehearsal or board game night, show him a new study published in the Journal of Vocational Behavior. Researchers have found that devoting more time to hobbies can increase people's confidence in their ability to do a job well. But be careful - if a hobby is too much like work, an increase in leisure time can lead to detrimental consequences.
A number of studies have looked at how family life can affect productivity and job satisfaction, but there is surprisingly little research on the impact of leisure. So scientist and her colleagues at the University of Sheffield brought together 129 people with hobbies ranging from mountain climbing to improv comedy to see how time devoted to hobbies affects work life.
To begin with, the team measured the seriousness of each participant's hobby by asking them to rate their agreement with statements such as "I exercise regularly in this activity" and also assessed how similar the demands of their job and hobby are. Then every month for seven months, participants recorded how many hours they devoted to their favourite activity and filled out a scale assessing their ability to do work effectively using statements such as "At work, I can successfully overcome many problems." They also filled out a scale measuring resilience at work.
The researchers found that as participants spent more time having fun, their belief in their ability to do their job increased. But only in the case when they had a serious hobby that was not like their job, or when the hobby was like work, but they did it from time to time. When a hobby was serious and work-like, more time devoted to it actually had a detrimental effect, lowering performance scores.
Why can this be? According to the authors, in order to pursue a serious hobby, people need to invest significant psychological resources, so if this type of activity has the same requirements as a daily job, people are left devastated and unable to fulfill their duties at work. But if their hobby is very different from their work, it does not get in the way but helps to develop other knowledge and skills that can increase their self-confidence. “Consider a scientist—an avid rock climber,” the scientist says. “Because climbing is so far away from his day job, he can recover from the demands of the job and replenish his resources.”
Of course, the data do not provide strong evidence about the direction of the effect: it is possible, for example, that the time people spend on their hobbies depends on their experience at work and not vice versa. And it would be interesting to know how things are with those with no hobbies: is it better to have a serious hobby that looks like work, or not to have a hobby at all?
However, the results suggest that companies may want to encourage employees to pursue interests outside of work if those pursuits differ from their day-to-day tasks. And also to give a pause to those who dream of taking and turning their hobby into a career. Go ahead - but, the authors warn, "our results may indicate that such people will have to find another serious hobby."
Scientists note that not only physical activity has a beneficial effect on physical and mental health, but a hobby like drawing with watercolor paint set can also help with this. Gardening, reading books, drawing, sewing and other activities can have a beneficial effect on a person's well-being.
Among the main modifiable factors that negatively affect the body are stress and a sedentary lifestyle, as well as a combination of them, for example, in the case of office work. This, in turn, increases the risk of developing chronic diseases such as obesity, diabetes, cardiovascular disease and even dementia. So, stress leads to an increase in blood pressure, heart rate, and muscle spasms, as well as a decrease in life expectancy.
One of the best ways to deal with stress and a sedentary lifestyle is through daily exercise. However, according to a new study by scientists from the University of California, USA, hobbies or relaxing holidays can also help improve a person's overall health, eliminate negative emotions and relieve stress.
This study involved 115 men and women aged 20–80 years. Electrodes were placed on the body of all volunteers, which measured their heart rate throughout the study. As a result, participants reported that during their leisure time they noted a reduction in stress levels and heart rate compared to the period during which they worked. Leisure time included activities such as sewing, drawing, listening to music, doing crossword puzzles and watching TV. The researchers calculated that during these sessions, the volunteers were 34% less stressed and 18% less likely to experience sadness and have a bad mood than during work. In addition, the participants also experienced a decrease in heart rate by an average of 3%. These positive effects persisted for several hours after doing what you love.
Even though the study proves that hobbies are beneficial to human health in the short term, devoting some time to such activities every day for several years can also be seen to have beneficial effects on overall health in the long term, the scientists said.