There’s a reason that people spend time enjoying hobbies. Doing something that gives us positive feedback, a sheer thrill, or something that fulfills a deep-seated need to be creative can improve your mood, confidence, and self-esteem. This is particularly important for someone who is dealing with the pain and challenges associated with a chronic condition like arthritis. 

Engaging in a hobby can be a mental escape, help us hone a skill, or just provide an opportunity to socialise and connect with others. Hobbies are a great way to disconnect from work and break away from the monotony of daily schedules. 

Also, even though it may seem daunting to add another item to your to-do list, having a hobby has been shown to be a great stress reliever. One of the main reasons why hobbies are important is that they open you up to doing group activities and, as we know, social connection is crucial for longevity and health.  

So, what are you waiting for? Consider trying some of our ideas here to get inspired: 

  • Reading: It costs nothing, and you can even go to your local library. Reading is a great way to exercise the mind, and expand your thinking, opening yourself up to new and exciting worlds. Visit Libraries Ireland to sign up for a new library card and to access your local services: 
  • Gardening: Shown to help lower levels of stress and anxiety, gardening can be enjoyed by almost anyone, even if you only have a small space, with just a few outdoor pots. If you’ve no outdoor space, looking after some ferns or other indoor plants can be just as enjoyable. If you’re concerned about air quality in your home, a Peace Lily would be a great investment – this plant works by absorbing the airborne 'toxins' through its leaves, thereby purifying the air we breathe. Visit An Bord Bia to get expert tips and tricks on gardening. 
  • Painting/drawing: These will perk up your creative skills and you’ll find yourself thinking and looking at things in new ways – all you need is your imagination, and you can create almost anything. Also, as you see yourself improve, your confidence is likely to develop and, soon, you’ll hopefully have your very own piece to frame! Check out a workshop near you at Visual Artists. 
  • Writing: You don’t need to be James Joyce to pick up a pen, or laptop, and write a story. Contact The Irish Writer's Centre for a workshop, or consider joining a critique group, where you can connect with other writers, such as the one run by Irish crime writer Sam Blake: 
  • Cooking: Although it can seem a little daunting at first, all you need is a shiny new book, or a laptop/iPad to follow some videos online to get inspired. Check out BBC Good Food for a huge bank of easy, delicious recipes. Better still, join a class where you’ll meet others and you’ll get to specialise in all sorts of cooking, from Indian and Thai to Italian or French. Find out more about local classes on Google or Eventbrite.  
  • Dancing: It’s not only great exercise for your body, it’s also a lot of fun, and good for the mind and soul as it releases pent-up tension. You can take part by yourself or, better still, enlist a friend to sign up for a weekly class. Find out more at Dance Ireland. 
  • Hiking: We live in one of the most beautiful countries with stunning walkways and hiking trails throughout. Start small, by hiking close by to where you live and, hopefully, in time, you’ll be able to set yourself a challenge of a 5, 10 or 20K walk with friends and family. Visit the Irish Heart Foundation’s Slí na Sláinte Walking Routes here. 
  • Golf: There’s a reason that this sport is so popular – it’s hugely sociable, gets you outdoors and provides much-needed physical activity for overall health. Consider some private lessons with a pro to get started – they’ll help show you how to position hands and feet when striking the ball. For more information, including a beginner’s guide, contact the Golf Ireland. 
  • Meditation/yoga: This has gained in popularity, particularly over the past decade, as a great way to improve relaxation, sleep and mental health. You could do a meditation-only course, or a yoga course that has a specific focus on meditation and relaxation. If you are short for time, you could download an app, such as Calm, to do it yourself at home. If you still struggle, you’ll be reassured by this this video from the highly respected Mayo Clinic, which shows how meditation can be easily built into daily life. All it essentially means is becoming more conscious, more compassionate, and more grateful in our lives.  
  • Woodwork: Hobbies like woodworking, which are hugely rewarding and fulfilling, have been shown to help your brain in its production of the ‘happy hormones’ – dopamine, serotonin and endorphins, thereby helping to regulate your mood and wellbeing. You can start with easier beginner-type projects and then gradually work your way up to something more complex. Check out local classes on 
  • Pottery: Many people attest to the therapeutic and relaxing nature of spinning clay. Take a pottery class at your local college or pottery studio. You’ll be provided with all the materials you’ll need and will have access to equipment, such as pottery wheels and kilns. You’ll also meet like-minded people who enjoy being creative! Check out local classes on Eventbrite. 
  • Volunteering: Giving your time to an honourable cause can help increase confidence and a sense of purpose and satisfaction as a result of being part of a wider community of volunteers. Get in touch with Volunteer Ireland to discover opportunities available or check out the online network for Irish nonprofit organisations. If you are interested in volunteering with us at Arthritis Ireland, please get in touch with Peter Boyd, the Arthritis Ireland Services Support Officer: [email protected] 


Start this Month!

Think you don’t have time for a hobby? Think again. So many of us don’t think twice about spending lots of time on social media or watching television. Consider whether you can use some of that time to enjoy a hobby instead. Carving out time for a hobby is satisfying and it’s also a sign that you’re prioritising yourself and your own needs (despite other demands, such as those from family), which is healthy! 

September is a great time to embark on a new hobby, and to give yourself the gift of time to do something you enjoy. We’d love to hear from you about your hobbies and ones you’ve recently been enjoying! Get in touch via our Instagram page.