While growing up, my mother always pushed me to play a musical instrument. “Learn to play the violin” she instructed me. “A lot of doctors and lawyers play the violin!”. I’m not sure how exactly she was able to conduct such a poll that would offer that kind of information, raising three boys alone while my father was away at work and grad school. “They all play the violin because it relieves stress from how busy their important jobs are” she would explain. My mother had a habit of pimping things she thought were good ideas to us.
Something we all learn at some point or another is that eventually, the weighted scale of problems in life will gradually tilt from “Which color crayon will I use today” all the way to “I really hope I don’t get fired today and loose my job that pays for my apartment” direction.
Not that it’s never possible to right a ship, the situations we face as our ages grow in number continue to become more and more stress giving than they were yesterday and even the day before that. The case, as it lies, is “What do we do to combat these stresses?”
Do we just let stress hit us, knock us down, and beat us with sticks? Or do we fight back?
Is it even possible to combat stress?
In a boxing match, if you are not the most skilled fighter in the ring, a proven method is to keep the gloves up, cover yourself, and protect the face. In this stance, you can take a beating for a much longer a time than you would if your gloves were down, exposing your sensitive face. You’d be out and down for the count in seconds with your gloves lowered.
Like in boxing, we need to find a way to protect ourselves and give ourselves a barrier from the waves of stresses that are getting thrown at us every day, and we can do that by hobbies. Simply turning our brains off from struggling over the endless river of Rubik’s Cubes that is our daily lives and finding an engaging outlet with which to zone out on.
Small pockets of time here and there where we can detoxify our brains of the stress and focus on something else to relax on can increase how much of a beating our brains can actually take. A fulfilling hobby relaxes our brains and will make our happiness level higher, and that is where our defense against stress lies. If you don’t enjoy anything about your current situation, then it will be that much easier for stress to overtake you and knock you out once things get difficult.
When we enjoy what we are doing, like sketching, or scrap-booking, or cooking or baking or even as my own mother would advise, playing the violin, it boosts our endurance of just how much we can take it situations outside of the hobbies.
Strength to carry on
We gain endurance because we have a joyful feeling that this problem (i.e. a situation at your stressful job, a difficult issue with your child or family member, etc…) is not my whole life. I have things to look forward to outside of this problem, and once I get through this time of hardship, I can relax and enjoy my (Fill-In-The-Blank-Hobby). A hobby gives you something solid to cling to and look forward to.
When we are immersed in a world of nothing but problems, it is easy for us to lose sight of what it was like to enjoy simple things.We can’t completely get rid of the stresses unless we hit the “Force Reset” button on our lives and quit our jobs, cut ties with family members, and go off the grid to live in the woods in a cabin built from twigs and driftwood. As tempting as hitting that “Force Reset” button is, it would be best to ignore that impulse for now.
We can lessen the impact of daily stresses by having a mental safeguard set up around us in the form of a stress relieving hobby, an activity that makes us forget about the scary issues for a little while and just relax our brains by setting it to accomplish simple tasks.
Revisit your childhood passion of sketching or coloring. Start writing, or even wood working if you have the means for it. You can even take up my mother’s advice and pick up a violin…or do as I did and pick up the Ukulele. It’s not quite a violin, but it looks like one from far away, and either way, she’s proud that I took up something along the lines that a doctor or lawyer probably would.