How to Find a New Hobby as An Adult – I Tried 5 New Things So You Don’t Have To (But Might Like?) & 20 More Ideas

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Have you got to your thirties and realised that, hang on a minute, I don’t have a hobby!? As life marches on and time gets away on us we sometimes forget to indulge in the things that bring us joy. So, Kelly Bertrand set out to find a hobby as an adult with… mixed results! (Plus she has 20 further ideas for you if you’re on the hunt for a new hobby too!)

This story is brought to you thanks to the support of Resene

A stark thought occurred to me the other day as I stood in my kitchen. It was bucketing down outside on a stormy Sunday afternoon, and I was at a complete loss at what to do. The house was clean – not just clean actually, it was clean – the shopping had been done, the meals prepped for the week. My partner was out, the house was quiet. And I was at a complete loss at what to do.

I mean sure there’s always something to do – my work inbox was overflowing, I could have cleaned my gross car out or gone for one of those glorious, freeing walks in the rain. But I knew what I wanted to do, but I just didn’t have any idea how to do it.

I wanted a hobby.

How is it that I, at 33 years old, don’t have a hobby? When I was a kid I had them coming out my ears – gymnastics, reading, scrapbooking, dancing, journaling, baking. Where did they all go? (Well I can tell you exactly what happened to gymnastics – my body decided to stop *bending* the way it was supposed to).

Adulthood is a true robber of the hobby – our business, our tiredness, our WTF-ness gets in the way constantly as we just do our best to get through life, one to-do list at a time.

Turns out having a hobby is actually quite important for your overall health – this study found that 75% who created art had lower levels of stress home cortisol after doing so (sign me up STAT). It’s about being present, centring yourself and lowering your stimuli.

But on this rainy Sunday afternoon, the need to rediscover a hobby was unignorable. Hobbies for us weary adults are another form of self-care where we can drop all other thoughts and feelings, and channel everything into an activity we find enjoyable. Basically, I needed some ME TIME that relaxed me, centered me, and filled me with that same unbridled joy and satisfaction I had when I was a kid.

So, in my quest to find a new hobby, I figured going back to my childhood (in a non-therapist way, here’s hoping) was the first place to start:

HOW TO FIND A NEW HOBBY AS AN ADULT – THE FOUR THINGS YOU SHOULD THINK ABOUT ACCORDING TO THE INTERNET

1.    Remember what you loved to do as a kid:  Oh god, the inner child. I was a really sporty kid and a lot of my hobbies revolved around netball, lawn bowls (seriously) and any other sport my school was short of people for (hockey, tennis, badminton…). But two ACL replacements later, 33-year-old me simply can’t go back to my Sporty Spice days. However, reflecting on my ‘lil athlete era made me era made me realise just how much I missed netball. It’s always been my happiest place and I still absolutely adore it. Revelation number one, complete. And then when I reflected on everything else I used to love to do – scrapbooking, cross-stitching and baking (look there was a period there where I was a 15-year-old grandmother who maybe didn’t have a huge amount of friends) I realised they all had one thing in common – creating. Revelation number two, check.

2.    Think about how much time you ACTUALLY have to devote to a hobby: My schedule is erratic at best, crazy at worst. I don’t keep regular hours at work, I travel a lot and socialising with my friends, while I don’t think I can be cheeky enough to call a hobby, is also really important to me. Ergo, I need something I can pick up and put down, and then pick up again when the hobby mood strikes me. A regular, time-hungry hobby? Not for me. Revelation three.

3.    What are you looking for in a hobby? Is it for stress relief? Alone time? Social connection? Think about what you need more of in your life, and tailor your hobby search accordingly. For me, who is constantly around people, I want solo hobbies that help me relax and zen out. Revelation four!

4.    What are you interested in now? What gives you joy in your adult life? What else in your life can you extrapolate interest from? For example, if you love your daily walks, perhaps they can be transformed into nature hikes or birdwatching, or if you already love cooking, something else in the creative space, like pottery, could be for you? As I mentioned above, I’ve always liked making things, and this has carried on into my adulthood – something I actually realised when completing an art therapy story for our partnership with Resene. And there you have it, revelation five!

So, based on all this research, my own interest and limitations, here’s what I decided to do, and how it went:

1.    Candle making: I’ve done this before during lockdown when I had all the time in the world and money to feed my candle addiction (two birds, one stone) and really enjoyed it, but it somehow fell off my radar. So, with my love of creating things in the back of my mind I re-ordered some wax and fragrance, rinsed out some old candle containers and got to work with creating my own scents. If you’ve ever had just a cursory glance at Capsule you’ve probably seen my love for scented candles, so this hobby truly ticked all the boxes! After playing around for a few weeks and a lot of trial and error (be VERY cautious with French Pear fragrance, my God it’s strong and I stunk out my whole house and not in a good way) I found my ‘signature’ scent, coconut and sea salt and honestly, this just fed my soul. Paired with my favourite wine and a good playlist, I was in heaven. I’d recommend this for most people to be honest – it’s not ongoing, you can pull it out when you want a solid afternoon of ‘hobbying’ and you have something to show for it after (plus it sorts out all Christmas and birthday presents!).

2.    Reading: I’m a really, really good reader. In fact, my skill at reading is as good as my skills at maths and knowing what kind of lightbulb goes into which socket are horrific. But because my job requires so much reading I have somehow lost all joy with it, and for those moments where I don’t want to really do much and just enjoy some peace, quiet and serenity (does that even exist!?) then reading will tick the box. So I unearthed my Kindle and got to downloading my list of books I’d been meaning to get to and cracked in (our book club picks are useful for this, trust me!). But the first port of call was to finally re-read the Harry Potter series and before you judge me and call me a child, mate – this gave me so, so, so much joy. If there’s a book series you loved as a kid or young adult, I can highly recommend going back and re-discovering the magic.

3.    Texture art: I’m a minimalist through and through, but I have been trying to bring in a little more colour and interest into my home, and after that aforementioned art therapy story, I discovered that despite possessing no talent in the visual arts, I really loved the creative process of bringing colour and texture together. So when my creative era strikes, I grab my Resene testpots, figure out my colour palette and just start putting brush (or, as I’ve discovered, a cheese knife makes a great substitute for a painter’s palette knife but I also discovered this will really piss your partner off when they go to find it when they’re laying out Sunday brunch) to paper. I go with colours that I want to include in my house because I’m still living in hope that something I make will be good enough to hang on the wall, and my advice if you’re a bit nervous? Start with a natural palette (or even just a few shades of the same colour, which you can mix together or tint with black or white). Here’s what I created on a random Friday night (admittedly a few wines deep):

Some tips for all you fellow non-naturally arty but love to give it a go gals (I see you!) – firstly, to get the gradual fade of colours, the key is to either go from darkest to lightest or vice versa, and gradually add a little bit of the previous colour to the new colour so you have a beautiful, tonal transition, rather than harsh colour differences. 

Also, learn from my mistake (classic) and paint the edges of your canvas/frame FIRST because it’s bloody annoying to have to go back and do it after, especially if you’ve blended a custom colour and that’s the one you want to use! 

And finally, don’t worry about making it perfect – I certainly did it! Plus the more you do it, the more you’ll get the hang of different techniques! It’s a hobby, after all! 
And here’s the colours I used:

(L-R) Resene Black White; Resene Half Sour Dough; Resene Blank Canvas; Resene Staycation; Resene Woodland; Resene Black 

4.    Making sauce: Anyone who knows me knows that I am a condiment queen. In fact, my fridge has more sauce in it than food. So I figured, drawing on my existing love of cooking, I’d give making sauces and pickles a go. So far, I’ve made chilli jam which was a HUGE success (try it on little sliders with chicken, cream cheese and lettuce and thank me later) and five-spiced plum sauce, as well as a traditional tomato chutney. Less successful was the apricot preserve, I still have no idea what I did wrong but I’ll tell you that the bloody apricot sugar mix took DAYS and an infestation of ants to remove) but I still really enjoyed the process. My plan is to go even further and create a condiment recipe book for friends and family that I can give as presents (there’s a real theme of cheapskate Christmas pressies emerging here and I’m into it).

5.    Gaming: I have an upcoming story on this further, but after heading a few of my girlfriends talk about their love of gaming as a stress release, I decided to give it a go myself. Further using the ‘what did you love as a kid’ inspiration, I duly downloaded Hogwarts: Legacy and promptly got lost in the Harry Potter universe, and before I knew it, three hours had been whiled away joyfully. Next cab off the rank? You best believe it’s Crash Bandicoot.

WHAT DID I LEARN ABOUT FINDING A HOBBY AS AN ADULT?

This process was truly a joyful one. I found new things I loved, I rediscovered past loves, and it’s even given me inspiration for more things to try (I think ceramics and pottery is next!). I really did realise that I need to prioritise time for me that’s not just scrolling on social media or spending money (I’m getting married next year and my fiancé has told me, in no uncertain terms, it’s the year of austerity). I love to still be productive, which is why I love my ‘creating’ hobbies and I intend to keep my painting cupboard stocked and ready to go so when the mood strikes, I’m there. But I also have really dived into my reading and gaming as my options for when I want the real world to disappear for a bit, and my brain to fully focus on something else.

If you’ve been thinking of taking up a hobby, trust me – please do give it a go! And if my hobbies and their motivations didn’t tickle your pickle, here’s 20 other suggestions!

20 Hobby Ideas:

1.    Gardening (I’m tempted to try this myself but I have been known to kill anything green within a 10 metre radius)
2.    Jewellery making
3.    Macrame
4.    Scrapbooking (digital or physical!)
5.    Photography
6.    Rock climbing
7.    Singing in a choir
8.    Learning the piano
9.    Homebrewing (could this save me a TONNE of money?!)
10.  Cheesemaking
11.  Dancing
12.  Yoga (I tried this myself the other day for the first time and surprisingly, I liked it… just not in a group of people I’d just met!)
13.  Journaling
14.  Tarot reading (My God this would be cool for parties)
15.  Thrifting and op-shopping
16.  Hiking
17.  Knitting (this is cool again, right?)
18.  Geocaching (I loved orienteering as a kid, surely this is the adult version?)
19.  Calligraphy
20.  Puzzling

Let us know if you take any of these up!

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