I've been doing research recently for an upcoming book on digital decluttering and spending less time online.
One thing I learned is that we spend an average of about 23 hours a week on email, texting and social media. That's a full day on your digital devices — and that doesn't count the time you use your devices on your job.
I shouldn't be shocked by these statistics, but it is mind-blowing that we devote so much time to something that didn't even exist not too long ago. When I was growing up, and even as a young adult, my free time was spent pursuing my favorite hobbies rather than surfing the net.
There are so many benefits to having an actual, real world hobby. Obviously, any physical or athletic hobby is going to make you stronger, more fit, and healthier in general. But hobbies have many mental and emotional benefits as well.
When you perform your hobby, you're in that state of “flow” when time disappears, and you're completely present with the activity. This flow state has been shown to reduce stress and provide a sense of well-being and happiness.
Also, any hobby that involves some level of challenge or concentration will improve your mental strength. This is particularly important as we age, because the more mentally active we remain, the less prone we are to mental decline and dementia.
If you don't have a hobby now, or if you haven't practiced it in a long time, you'll be doing your body and mind a favor by engaging in one or more of your favorite activities on a regular basis.
Here are 40 hobbies for women you can check out:
You don't have to be a professional thespian to take up acting. Nearly every community has a local theater group or acting school. If not, create your own group. Acting helps you communicate better, feel more confident in your speaking skills, and lets you meet new, interesting peopleBeading
Biking is one of my favorite hobbies. It's great exercise, easy on your joints, and tons of fun. If you live in a community with some great trails, you might consider mountain biking. There are plenty of easy trails that are simply beautiful all over the U.S. Here's a good entry level Women's Mountain Bike and a Women's Hybrid Bike for road or trail cycling.
An estimated 85 million Americans enjoy feeding, observing or photographing wild birds. Only one other hobby, gardening, has more fans. All you need is a decent pair of Bird Watching Binoculars and a bird field guide to get started. Or you can using a birdwatching app on your phone if you prefer. You can enjoy it anywhere, at any time. And you can meet other bird enthusiasts in groups and meet-ups.
Ok, I know this puts you back online, but I had to add this hobby because I know from personal experience how rewarding and fun it is. You're not just randomly surfing the net. You're creating your own online magazine or guide to share ideas, inspiration, information, and strategies with people all over the world. You get to do many creative activities as part of blogging from writing, to choosing photos, to designing the layout of your site. Check out my new site, Work From Home, to learn more.
Bowling seems like such a throwback to the 50's and 60's, but it is actually an extremely popular hobby. If you haven't bowled since you were a teenager, give it a try again. It's a really fun group hobby, it's affordable, and anyone can do it. OK, so the shoes are ugly, but that's part of the fun too!
Did you know that Steve Jobs based his first computer typography on the calligraphy skills he learned in college? Calligraphy was regarded by Confucius as one of the “six arts,” and is considered a way to refine one’s temperament. You can learn calligraphy for fun or to begin a small business designing cards and invitations. Check out this book on calligraphy: Learn Calligraphy: The Complete Book of Lettering and Design, and here's a nice set of calligraphy pens.
You don't have to be Wilderness Woman to enjoy camping. There are so many beautiful national and state parks that have well-equipped, safe, and affordable campsites. Imagine a beautiful fall or spring weekend when the weather is temperate, sleeping in a tent near a stream or in the woods, cooking over a campfire, and just enjoying the peace of nature. Bliss.
Think about all of the fruits and veggies you end up throwing away because you forget about them or don't eat them for some reason. Canning stops the natural spoilage and allows you to keep and foods much longer. It's easy, inexpensive, and so rewarding to see your pantry lined up with delicious items you've canned yourself. Here's a book with some amazing recipes: Ball Complete Book of Home Preserving
Years ago, my older sister taught me how to play bridge, and we'd sit at the beach in the evenings and play for hours after dinner. It's so much fun to have some friends over and just play card games. It doesn't require too much concentration, and you can enjoy a fun social evening with a bit of friendly competition.
I know, chess seems like one of those games brainiacs play — a boring, tedious mind drain. But anyone can play chess, and yes, it will improve your IQ. It also exercises both sides of your brain, helps prevent Alzheimer's (women are particularly vulnerable), and increases your memory and creativity. It's simple to learn, no two games are ever alike, and believe it or not, it's really fun. Here's the chess set we own.
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Collecting can be a fun pastime for relaxation, a way of enjoying the aesthetic of whatever you're collecting, or a way to appreciate history or antiques. Simply the hunt for something — old books, rare stamps, or beautiful art — is exciting and interesting.
Everyone loves great food and social aspect of eating a beautifully and lovingly prepared meal. Cooking and baking are creative, satisfying, and relaxing. There's nothing like hearing the “oohs” and “ahhs” from people savoring the meal you just prepared. My favorite meal to prepare from scratch is a big pot of soup. Here's a great Williams and Sonoma Soup of the Day cookbook.
Whether you join a ballroom class, practice ballet, or simply go to a club dancing, you'll find so much joy and fun from moving your body to great music. Dancing is not only a great form of exercise, but also it improves coordination, memory, and flexibility. You don't have to be Ginger Rogers to enjoy dancing. Just get out there and move to the beat! Here's a DVD teaching you ballroom dancing.
When you think about embroidery, you might imagine characters from a Jane Austin novel sitting around the fire while the menfolk are smoking cigars. But embroidery continues to grow in popularity, and you can join an embroidery group to make it a social event. It is a great hobby for dexterity, mental acuity, and creativity. Needlepoint is a wonderful way to relax and create something beautiful at the same time — whether it's a pillow, hanging art, a handbag, or a Christmas stocking.
15. Floral Arranging
Studies show that flowers have an immediate impact on happiness and emotional health. So why not spend some time around flowers and create a beautiful arrangement at the same time? Flower arrangements are wonderful gifts or great for decorating your own home. Here's a bestselling flower arrangement book.
Gardening also has emotional and mental health benefits — along with the physical benefits involved in digging around in your yard. Gardening helps you connect with nature and the cycles of growth and decay. Whether you plant flowers, trees, or vegetables, you'll get great satisfaction in seeing the fruits of your labor and enjoying sharing your bounty with others. If you have a small yard like we do, you'll enjoy this gardening book.
Tracing your family roots is a deeply satisfying hobby that will serve not only you and your immediate family, but also you future relatives for years to come. It involves organizational skills, research, and curiosity, and leads to more understanding of who you are and where you came from. Here's a guide on using the genealogy website, Ancestry.com.
Hiking is another one of my favorite hobbies, especially since I've moved to Asheville, NC, and I'm surrounded by the Blue Ridge Mountains. Hiking is great exercise, it reduces stress, and allows you to connect with nature. You'll encounter a wide variety of plants, birds, and animals along the way, and it's a great activity to enjoy alone or with other people. You can visit Trails.com to find local U.S. trails to hike.
19. Jewelry Making
My youngest daughter took up jewelry making in her teens, and I was surprised at the beautiful things she was able to create with some simple tools. Just about any craft store has a variety of beads and wires for making jewelry, and you might emjoy going to specialty stores that have a bigger selection of interesting and more precious stones and beads. This is a great hobby for creativity, and a great way to make your own gifts for people you care about. Check this set of jewelry making tools to help you get started.
Like jewelry making, knitting is another creative craft that is relaxing and fun. There are so many beautiful things you can make, even from the most basic stitches. Knitting is a mind stimulating activity that is known to to alleviate symptoms of depression and to help improve motor functions. Knitting has a calming effect and gives you a sense of pride, satisfaction and accomplishment. Here's the top rated book on knitting available on Amazon.
21. Learning A Language
Learning a new language does take time and dedication, but it has so many benefits, especially for your brain health. It significantly delays the onset of brain decline and dementia. It also opens up a world of new opportunities for your job and when you travel. It gives you a greater global understanding of the world we live in, and a sense of achievement and accomplishment.
Meditation is more than a hobby — it's a practice. And the practice of meditation is deeply satisfying and calming. Medication has been proven to reduce stress and anxiety, improve depression, and help prevent a variety of diseases. It gives you a respite from the demands of your day and helps you focus better throughout your day. You can read more about meditation in my book, Peace of Mindfulness: Everyday Rituals to Conquer Anxiety and Claim Unlimited Inner Peace
23. Mosaic Art
I have a friend who creates the most beautiful mosaic art from sea glass, tiles, and bits of broken ceramics. It's a great way to make use of materials that might otherwise be thrown away, and allows for a very unique kind of creative expression. You can make garden art, wall hangings, tile inlays, decorative platters, jewelry, or just about anything you can imagine.
If you're a naturally organized person, or you'd like to be, why not put your abilities to good use? Use your hobby time to get your home or someone else's in tip top shape by clearing out clutter, streamlining your stuff, and neatly organizing what's left. Check out my book, 10-Minute Declutter: The Stress-Free Habit for Simplifying Your Home, for detailed instructions on decluttering every room of your house.
I used to be fascinated with origami when I was a child. I loved how you could take a flat piece of paper and simply shape it into something beautiful. It has has many benefits like developing eye hand co-ordination, sequencing skills, attention skills, patience, and temporal spatial skills. You can use your origami creations for so many things like decorations, boxes, toys, and art. Here's a beginner's guide to origami.
26. Painting and Drawing
When I turned 40, I discovered I had an ability to draw that I never knew I had. You may think you don't have the creativity to paint or draw, but everyone is capable of improving their abilities and becoming proficient as an amateur artist — or maybe even a professional. Painting and drawing are relaxing, creative, fun, and they stimulate brain to prevent age-related dementia.
Photography has gotten so much easier with the advent of digital cameras. You can take some stunning photographs just with your smartphone. But if you want to get more serious about it, consider taking photography lessons and getting yourself a really good camera like this digital single-lens reflex camera by Nikon.
28. Playing An Instrument
Maybe you gave up the tuba or viola when you were in elementary school and never went back to it. You may think it's too late to take up an instrument, but think again. Learning an instrument is a great hobby, and now as an adult, you'll have more discipline to practice and life experience to apply to your musical efforts. Learning an instrument is yet another great way to keep your brain active and healthy.
29. Playing Board Games
Remember doing this on rainy days or when you were bored as a kid? Once you started the game, it was so much fun you didn't want to stop. Board games have always been fun and are a great way to spend time with friends and family. If the game is slightly challenging, it keeps your brain active as well. One of my favorite family games is The Settlers of Catan.
30. Playing Tennis
I tool up tennis as a young adult, and even though I was never great at it, it was one of the most enjoyable hobbies I've ever had. Not only is it good exercise (especially playing singles), but it's a great way to socialize, improve hand/eye coordination, and wear cute outfits! Even if you're not a natural athlete (like I wasn't), don't be intimidated by the game. Just go out and have fun.
One of my blogging buddies learned to create ceramic pottery when she was in midlife. Now she is truly an artist, creating the most stunning pieces that she sells all over the world. Start by taking a pottery class at a local art center before investing in the materials and equipment to make sure you enjoy it. If you don't mind getting your hands dirty, this might be the perfect hobby for you.
Like board games, puzzles are activities we don't prioritize anymore because we have so many distractions. But jigsaw puzzles help cognitive processes, improving your memory, creativity, and focus. You can work on a puzzle by yourself or enjoy it as a group activity. Here's a beautiful puzzle featuring one of my favorite places in Italy.
Quilting was a very common social activity of the past. Quilts were once essential household objects, and women enjoyed the break from demanding physical work to sew quilts. Quilting is still fun, gratifying, and creative. From choosing the pattern, to selecting the fabrics, there are many aspects of quilting that make it uniquely enjoyable. Plus you'll be able to use your quilt for many years to come.
This is my favorite hobby of all time. I've loved books ever since I could read. Reading is not only fun, entertaining, and relaxing, but also it improves your vocabulary, increases your general knowledge and awareness, and keeps your mind active. Here's a good list of books I recommend.
Rebounding is one of the most fun, least painful exercises out there — especially for the benefits you get from it. It involves jumping, running, or dancing on a strong mini trampoline for a period of time. Not only does it improve your fitness level, but also it is great for your lymphatic system. It's inexpensive, portable, and easy. Here's my best rebounders review page.
Do you have stuff around your house you don't use or need? Can you find items at a store that are deeply discounted that you could re-sell? Have you created something that others might want to buy? You can make some great extra cash on the side by selling your own stuff or things you make or buy and re-sell at a mark-up. Sites like Amazon, Etsy, and eBay are great places to promote and sell your stuff with very little effort.
Just behind reading, traveling is my favorite hobby. I LOVE visiting new places and having adventures that are memorable and fun. Travel doesn't have to cost a lot of money. You can visit state parks with inexpensive cabins, do a house swap with someone, or just go on a road trip to visit friends and family. Getting out of your day-to-day environment and seeing new people and sites is enlightening, exciting, and loads of fun.
38. Wine Tasting
If you enjoy good wines, there are so many opportunities to learn about different varieties. Your local wine store probably offers wine tastings, or you could host your own wine tasting and asks guests to bring a different bottle. There are wine classes you can take, local wine events, and even wine tasting cruises. You can get started by learning more about wines from this book: How to Taste: A Guide to Enjoying Wine
Writing, whether it's a novel or just in your journal, is an amazing hobby that is so good for you. Writing down your thoughts and feelings is a wonderful way to relieve stress and worry. Writing also stimulates creativity, imagination, and focus. Through writing, you can improve your vocabulary, clarify your ideas, and improve your general communication skills. You don't have to be a Pulitzer Prize winner to start writing. Just write and enjoy the process. Here's book on writing by Ann Lamott that I really enjoyed.
Yoga is an ancient system of philosophies, principles and practices derived from the Vedic tradition of India and the Himalayas, more than 2500 years ago. Today it's practiced as a form of meditation, relaxation, and clarity of mind. It includes physical poses and stretches that strengthen and invigorate the body, and help all physical systems to work properly. Here's a good beginning DVD program if you're ready to get started.
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