Finding time for your hobbies at university

...and the benefits of taking a break from work

517
Photograph by Ellie Borgman

University is a stressful and busy time, there is no denying that. What with finishing off your deadlines, finding the time to go food shopping, as well as working up the energy to do that laundry which has been sat on the floor staring at you for the past week, it might seem difficult to fit in the things you really enjoy.

It may at times even feel quite disheartening that the things you used to do for fun and relaxation now take a back seat. But as we approach the summer term and the new challenge of exams, it is even more important that we all find time to do things we really enjoy so we feel that sense of a break from the stresses of university life.

But, I hear you cry, isn’t spending time on my hobbies merely procrastinating from doing the things I should be doing? And yes, there is always a danger that we can use hobbies as escapism. But if hobbies are properly organised into our lives then they can have real benefits for our mental health.

To find the right time to do your hobby, it is worth thinking about when you are least productive. For me, this is in the evening which is when I pursue my love of painting and drawing. It does also help if you take a complete break from university, by organising a complete day off so you can do whatever you want and put yourself first. And it is these complete days off when you can find the time to pursue your passions.

As someone who has seen mental health advisors at various times throughout my degree, I know that the one thing advisors will always ask you is what activities you enjoy and how often you pursue them. I therefore feel it is incredibly beneficial to have downtime from university, whatever our stresses may be.

Personally, I go horse riding as it is something I have enjoyed greatly throughout my life. It allows me to get out in the fresh air, do some exercise and spend my time doing something completely different from essays. The equestrian society on campus was therefore incredibly beneficial to me as a fresher and throughout my degree. I’ll always be grateful for what the society has given me.

For those of you who don’t currently have a hobby you pursue on a regular basis, it is important that you develop one. Using your brain for something creative or active, as a complete break from being sat in your room or the library focusing on work, really helps. I have also found that spending time on my hobbies at the end of the day helps me to sleep, as this break stops me worrying about all the things I have to do for my degree.

The new thing that you spend your free time doing does not have to be anything drastic: even reading for leisure can provide a sense of a break from work. But for those who feel that trying something new could be the way forward to a more stress-free university experience, the many societies offered through LUSU are an important place to start. So have a browse and try something new – you might be surprised by what takes your fancy.

Whatever your hobby might or could be, make sure you do it at university. Our hobbies make us who we are, so embrace what you enjoy.