Pursuing our passions is good for us.
A study of 115 people published in the Annals of Behavioral Medicine found that when pursuing hobbies, participants’ moods were more positive, and they had lower stress and heart rates. That’s a pretty good result just for doing something you enjoy. The study’s conclusion? Leisure activities can improve a person’s health and well-being.
Our health is an important consideration throughout our lives, but as we age we start to pay even more attention to how to help our bodies and minds function as well as possible. Eating well, making friends and getting exercise are an important part of staying healthy in old age.
Pursuing passions also can play a big part in maintaining good health as we age. Studies have shown that pursuing our passions does wonders for the health of our brains. According to Total Brain Health, pursuing hobbies that we enjoy and that we’re good at can be a buffer against memory loss and can lead to improved neuroplasticity, our brain’s ability to form new connections. Pursuing passions also can help improve sleep quality, lower blood pressure, and lower our risks of heart disease, stress, anxiety and depression.
But what kind of leisure activities should you pursue? How do you find your passion?
For starters, try to remember a moment when you’ve lost track of time.
“Life just feels better when you have things in your hours that you want to do,” said productivity expert Laura Vanderkam in The New York Times. “There’s moments where time almost has no meaning because we’re so happy about what we’re doing. The more time you can spend in that zone, the better life feels.”
Is there anything you love to spend hours doing or that you have to be told to stop? That’s probably something you’re passionate about, something that could be developed into a hobby that lasts long into old age.
Consider the inspiring story of the ballet dancer who’s still going strong at age 77. Why? She loves what she does.
“Life is too short not to do what you want to do,” she says in a video produced by BBC One. “It’s never too late, so start doing what you love doing now.”
Other ways to identify your passions include taking an inventory your talents (what are you good at?) and thinking of what you liked to do as a kid. Those, too, might be hobbies worth pursuing that could lead to joy and contentment long into retirement years.