Relax and make some memories


How do you relax?

We all have hobbies – activities that make us forget the stress and strain of everyday life. Perhaps we need them now more than ever. Our 24/7, connected lives seem very stressful at times.

We play golf, hike, knit, bake, garden, collect things or read. Even those of us who don’t have much free time usually find an hour to commit to some sort of hobby. It helps us cope, although sometimes our hobbies themselves can cause some stress!

My father loved to tinker with radios. He got that bug early in life. After high school, he enlisted in the Navy, as did many of his generation. They sent him to radio school at Great Lakes Naval Base, north of Chicago. But World War II was nearing its end, and my dad never served beyond his training period. However, for the rest of his life, he had his amateur radios to keep him busy during down periods. I still remember sitting with him as he spoke to people all over the world. And I was fascinated by the postcards he received from people he talked to via the radio. I still have his framed license in my den.

He played golf too. Started that as a youngster. But you can’t play golf at night or in the snow. The radio was always there.

According to my not-so-scientific internet research, the most popular free-time activities in the United States include reading, gardening, photography, jewelry-making, hiking, sewing, crocheting, writing, painting, coin collecting and fishing.

Each hobby industry gathers its own information so it’s difficult to get into specifics. For example, there’s an association for crafters that is separate from the organization for those who love radio-controlled cars and airplanes, while there are other groups for video games, golf, gardening and photography enthusiasts. You get the picture.

In January 2016, Ask Your Target Market polled Americans about their hobbies. Of those surveyed, 66 percent wished they had more time for hobbies, 56 percent had multiple hobbies, and 24 percent had only one pastime they participated in regularly.

None of this takes into consideration the answer to a question about how Americans actually spend their free time. Hobbies, as we know them, didn’t get high rankings here. Screen time is the winner, with 54 percent of respondents choosing to watch television most often during their free time. Other top activities that people use their free time for are playing video games and social networking.

Now, I don’t know about you, but I don’t consider watching TV a hobby. Ditto for playing video games or social networking. Sometimes those things help us reduce stress, but often they do not. And it certainly does not get you out of the house or result in creating anything.

The coming cold weather will keep us at home and indoors more. What will you do with that time? Do we really want to sit in front of the television?

Maybe this winter, we should consider something beyond staring at a screen. What hobby do you wish you had more time for? Maybe you would have the time you need if you just turned off the TV or closed the computer for a while.

All of this information has put me in the mood to find something more to do with what little free time I have – something beyond screens. I get plenty of screen time right in my office. My father and those of his generation had more active hobbies.  And that made for some wonderful memories.