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How To Reclaim a Lost Hobby

If you asked me what my hobbies were in elementary school, I would probably rattle off a long list of my favorite after-school activities. Reading? Sure. Drawing? Obviously. Bike riding, cookie baking, jewelry-making and obstacle course running? Yes, yes, yes and YES. There’s one thing for sure—I never didn’t have a good answer.

Now, whenever I’m asked that same question, I have to stop and think. What are my hobbies? I love to run and have been competing on teams for eight years, but beyond that, I don’t know what to say. I still enjoy the same things I did as a child, but now, I do them so rarely that I would feel like a poser to claim baking or drawing as an actual hobby.

At the beginning of the year, I set a goal to be more intentional with my time. I wanted to feel like I had enjoyed myself each day and used my time in a way that was beneficial to my mind, body and heart. Particularly, I wanted to bring back some of my favorite hobbies, the things that I love to do but just “don’t have the time for.” I chose to focus on reading and crafting. While I’m still in the process of reclaiming these activities as my hobbies, these are the steps I am taking to intentionally bring them into my regular routine. 

planner and computer and plant on desk
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Get inspired

For college students, adding a new hobby to your routine should be something fun that you look forward to! There is no use trying to convince yourself to do an activity if in the back of your head, you are truly dreading it. That being said, any sort of change can be hard, and it may take some extra effort to get started. That’s why it’s important to get inspired in a way that will make you excited to begin your hobby. If you want to get into reading, there are hundreds of podcasts and YouTube videos filled with book recommendations for any genre. I also love to spend a rainy day wandering through a library, picking up whatever book looks good. If I’m feeling crafty, I’ll explore Pinterest for inspiration on clothing DIYs I want to replicate, friendship bracelet patterns or gifts I can make for my friends. When I have a big collection of projects I’m loving, I can’t wait to get started!

iphone on planner on white wooden table
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Put down the phone

Once we’ve been inspired and are ready to get started, it’s seriously time to put the phone down. I hate to put the blame on smartphones, but in my own experience (and those of most of my friends as well), mindless scrolling has filled up much of the little time I have to spare, making it much harder to actually focus on whatever hobby I want to try. Setting time limits on the apps that you spend the most time on can help keep your screen time in check and encourage you to find a new way to pass the time. You may want your phone to play some music or follow a recipe, but it’s best to be mindful about how you spend that time. When possible, I like to turn my phone off and throw it across the room so I can focus on my hobby without many distractions.

planner and pink flowers on desk
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Set a time

I work best when I am following a schedule, so if something is not in my planner, it probably won’t get done. Each night, I plan out my to-do list for the following day. Some of these commitments have set times (like classes, track practice or club meetings), while others just need to get done throughout the day (like homework or cleaning). I have learned to build in free time to enjoy a hobby that same way. For example, I committed to reading 10 minutes each night before bed, and on days that I have less work to do, I may block out an hour of my afternoon or evening and dedicate it to a bigger project. One of the hardest parts about getting back into a hobby is making it a routine, so it is helpful to start by actively planning it into your day. Once you get the hang of it, though, you’ll find yourself naturally gravitating towards it during your free time.

woman sitting at window reading book
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Go with your gut

What do you do if you find yourself dreading your hobby after a month of trying to get inspired, shutting off your phone and scheduling it into your day? Maybe you’ve gone a bit overboard in a short amount of time and could use a little mental break. Or, maybe that hobby just isn’t your thing. You can paint for an hour each day, but if it makes you more stressed than relaxed, it’s okay to realize that you’ve outgrown a hobby (or never felt drawn to it to begin with). A hobby should be an enjoyable outlet to keep yourself happy, balanced and entertained. If your heart isn’t with it, it’s time to try something else.

If this article has got you thinking about your own hobbies (or lack thereof), I encourage you to think back on your favorite hobby from 10 years ago and how it made you feel. If you want to bring back the joy of a simple hobby into your busy college life, follow these steps and see where they take you!

A thrifting enthusiast studying Civil Engineering and Environmental Science at Saint Louis University. You can find her running, reading, cooking, and probably running again when the sun comes out.
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