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Why Is It Important For College Students To Have Hobbies?

“No, I can’t go to that school club tonight. I have so much homework!”

“No, I can’t go running. I have to study and do a group project tonight!”

” I can’t go to that event. I’m exhausted from studying!”

Similar phrases, such as these, used to constantly leave my mouth.

As a college student, I once believed the lie I was too busy to do anything but school and work. I thought I did not have time for something like a hobby. Many college students feel this way.

This is a myth.

In Brigid Schulte’s book, Overwhelmed: Work, Love, and Play When No One Has the Time, she argues we have convinced ourselves we are too busy – but do not buy into it. We do have time for hobbies.

Over the past couple of months, Schulte’s words have rung true for me. I’ve learned the importance of being involved in activities outside of the classroom. And no, I am not talking about having a social life and going out on the weekends.

I have picked up a few new hobbies and revamped some old ones. For example, I played intramural basketball this semester after not playing for a few years. I enjoyed it and met some amazing people in the process. Some new ones I enjoy are knitting, taking care of plants, and graphic design.

A positive shift in my mental well-being happened from the beginning of the year to now. I am way happier and more productive.

It’s no secret college is demanding. College students have this part right, but outside activities are possible to do.

I encourage everybody to find a hobby they enjoy, especially college students and here’s why.

But First, Some Context: Mental Health

Mental health concern has become a significant issue for college students across the country. The transition into college and adulthood challenges students’ emotionally.

According to mental health research done by the National Alliance on Mental Illness:

One in four students have a diagnosable illness

40% of students do not seek help

 80% of students feel overwhelmed by their responsibilities

 50% of students have become so anxious that they struggled in school

Some common mental health concerns among college students are anxiety, depression/suicide, eating disorders, sleep issues, ADHD, and bipolar disorder.

As shown in the data above, many students suffer from mental health, but many do not seek help. I have been guilty of doing this myself. No one wants to admit they need help and, more often than not, people see it as a personal failure.

The stigma associated with mental health and treatment is dangerous. Students should not embarrassed or ashamed to ask for help.

In addition to getting help and ending this stigma, picking up a hobby would be extremely beneficial.

Infographic by Anxiety and Depression Association of America.

The Power of Hobbies

Of course, hobbies will not completely cure mental illness. But, research has shown people with hobbies have a lower risk for depression and dementia, in addition, to being generally healthier, according to the Washington Post.

They serve as a creative outlet and are something for you to look forward to. Here are some examples: juggling, blogging, video editing, crossword puzzles, sports, video games, baking, chess – the list goes on and on.

According to Psychology Today, some benefits are:

Better Time Management

Typically when someone has an unscheduled evening, people tend to procrastinate more and things become the last minute. A hobby may require you to rearrange your schedule a bit. With a more structured schedule, people tend to use their time more efficiently.

New Social Connections

Many hobbies can lead many to interact more with their communities. This can lead to new friendships and relationships.

Reduces Stress

Everyone gets stressed out. Some experience stresses more frequently than others. Regardless, hobbies allow you to escape and become involved in an enjoyable activity.

Other benefits include: improving self-awareness, satisfaction, saving money, and more, according to Best Medicine News.

No matter what you enjoy, or what your interests are, there is most likely a hobby out there for you. College students can pick any hobby that works best with their lifestyle.

Hear From A Student

Mikayla Goss is a junior at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, studying media and journalism. This is her first semester on campus after transferring in from a community college. The transition was tough at first; This is her first time living on her own, away from her family, and the academics are more challenging. But, her love for taking photos helped her navigate through this new environment and cope with the stress. For more about Goss’s story, click on the video below.

Video Edited/Produced/Shot By Jackie Sizing

Sources

Washington Post; Psychology Today; National Alliance on Mental Illness; Affordable College Online; Best Medicine News