Written by Karl Perera, MA, DipLC
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There is a very important role for hobbies to play in building self esteem. But which hobbies are particularly helpful if you want to build self confidence and self esteem?
When I experienced low self esteem many years ago I took up a variety of interests and hobbies and experienced the positive change they can bring. On this page we will take a look at how hobbies can help you improve your attitude to life and to yourself. The information here comprises both research and personal experience of both suffering from and helping others boost self-esteem.
Hobbies are a great way to build self esteem and confidence. The sense of achievement you gain from overcoming challenges in a hobby creates confidence. Taking part in a hobby you love can have both physical and mental health benefits, and is a form of self care.
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Why are Hobbies Good for Us?
In the past, hobbies were thought to help people occupy their time and do something creative with it (Gelber, 1999). Doing nothing was thought to be an evil to be avoided and so any hobby was believed to be beneficial. Women, who were generally at home with time on their hands were encouraged to take up hobbies that would keep them amused.
The times we live in are very different, both in terms of the choice of hobbies and activities that we are able to pursue, and the increased leisure time we enjoy compared to years ago. We also have very different attitudes towards lifestyle and use of spare time. Basically, we are free to choose any hobby we want, as long as it doesn’t hurt anybody else. But which hobbies are most helpful to build self esteem?
“No man is really happy or safe without a hobby, and it makes precious little difference what the outside interest may be – – botany, beetles or butterflies, roses, tulips or irises, fishing, mountaineering or antiquities – – anything will do so long as he straddles a hobby and rides it hard”William Osler, 1905.
Do you feel like life is just passing you by? Do your days consist of working, while your evenings and weekends are spent running errands or binge-watching television shows? Unfortunately, when you are so consumed with surviving the day to day routine, you may feel you lack the time or energy to enjoy life. Ultimately, you may feel incomplete, dissatisfied, or unhappy.
The solution, however, is finding a balance. Having a hobby that provides a creative outlet can help enormously with this. When you have something positive to focus on, it allows you to invest in your happiness, discover new things about yourself, connect with others, and forget about the daily grind.
In short, there is so much more to hobbies, and the benefits they offer, than just giving you pleasure and filling your spare time. Let’s consider how they can actually help you to build confidence and self esteem.
Taking Up a Hobby Can Boost Your Self Esteem and Confidence
Hobbies can develop skills which can be helpful to you in your personal or professional life, such as communication skills or problem-solving skills. The improvements you make will result in more self confidence and higher levels of self-esteem.
Hobbies are often an opportunity to become creative and explore new areas of knowledge. There is a reason why hobbies and interests are great additions to your CV or Resume. Employers love to talk about challenges you face in life and your interests indicate what kind of worker you might be and what additional skills you might be using in your free time.
Hobbies bring you into contact with like-minded people and may involve meeting and even working with others who share your interests. This network of new friends can really motivate you and support you to express yourself and cooperate in new ways. The social aspect, depending on the hobby, may also be a real help in boosting your self esteem.
Hobbies, therefore, influence our social identity, (see this article for more about this), and how we see ourselves (our self image). The fact that a hobby can make us a member of a certain group of people, you and others may see yourself in a new way. This can be another positive for your self esteem because you now have an addition to your personality and character.
Some hobbies really challenge you. I recently took up Astrophotography, which is definitely not easy to learn! There is a real sense of achievement in such hobbies as well as both technical knowledge and creativity. The sense of achievement from a hobby and the desire to develop your abilities as you progress can really build confidence.
Sharing your hobby and your adventures in it can add to your friendships as you become a source of additional interest and knowledge. Perhaps you can even introduce your passion to someone else. That would be very satisfying and intensifies the bond you have with that person.
With the right hobby you will start to become motivated and enjoy your life more. The worries of before will seem less intimidating and your new outlet for expression and creativity will improve your sense of self-worth.
Taking up a hobby can affect your sense of personal identity positively. This is directly related to your level of self esteem.
Hobbies can build self-esteem in those who are older. It may make them feel more able to do things and the value of creativity in elderly people cannot be underestimated. An interesting hobby may excite and invigorate a person making them seem enthusiastic and young again. The result of this is yes, you guessed it, more self esteem!
Hobbies are vital after retirement. It can help engage a person who now has free time and who otherwise might have felt bored or even useless after the novelty of leaving work has passed. This new sense of purpose and challenge can drive curiosity and build self esteem.
Some hobbies are good for you physically and develop the body and movements. Sports and activities not only have a positive effect on physical health but they are also good for your mental health too. Again, they offer challenge and creative expression and the joy of taking part in sports is contagious. Of all hobbies to build self esteem, sports and such activities offer many pathways to confidence and a sense of achievement.
As an example of the value of active hobbies to build self esteem, like dancing, this study concluded that dancers, (in this case ballet dancers in Finland), had higher levels of self esteem than others.
Which Hobby Should You Choose to Build Self Esteem?
Let’s now take a look at which hobbies you might choose to build your self esteem. If you have taken up a hobby, then you may like to think about what follows and check how your hobby measures up against these criteria, and how beneficial it might be for your self esteem.
A hobby should give you purpose
To narrow down hobby options you should consider the purpose. A hobby should most definitely be something that will help enhance your life. Are you looking to grow personally? Are you trying to make new friends? Do you need some downtime? Here’s a look at some aims and examples of hobbies that might be a great fit for you.
Personal Growth is important in a hobby
The more you learn and evolve, the better you’re able to navigate life’s challenges. While any new hobby could teach you something, consider looking at those that will help you improve yourself in some way. For example, if you were interested in learning how to reduce stress and find more positive energy you might take ayurveda training. Not only would you learn practices that will help you to sustain peace and balance in your own life, but you’d be equipped with the tools necessary to support others in enhancing their lives.
Choose a hobby that helps you to make new connections with others
Developing connections with others is imperative to your physical and mental well-being. When you have positive relationships, it improves your mood and extends your lifespan. So, maybe you want to participate in a hobby that allows you to connect with others. In this case, you might prefer to join a fitness class or book club.
Hobbies that involve helping others
There are lots of people who find passion and purpose by helping others or by volunteering. If you love to see individuals overcome serious problems in their lives, perhaps you should look into hobbies that will allow you to be an intricate part of their victory. Look at your own life as an example of how to help. For instance, if you have been sober after participating in a local outpatient rehab program, you may be able to volunteer your services by sponsoring or offering support to those suffering from addiction. In this way, you turn your adversity into an asset and give back to society. This a sure way to reclaim lost self esteem.
Choose a hobby that makes you step outside your comfort zone
Playing it safe isn’t always good. You miss out on opportunities that could change your life for the better. If you’re looking for a hobby that will challenge you, think outside of your comfort zone. What’s something you’ve been thinking about trying but were too afraid to or figured you wouldn’t be a success at? Maybe you could learn how to swim, go skydiving, or train for a marathon.
Life was meant to be so much more than just surviving. If you feel as if your life is missing something, perhaps what’s missing is something that brings you joy. Hobbies can be very instrumental in helping you to find passion and purpose. To find something that best suits you, remember to consider the purpose. Then, with your best intentions, go out there and try new things until you find the activity that brings you the most joy.
My New Hobby
My new hobby is astronomy and astrophotography. I have a new telescope and am learning how to use it and how to take pictures of the objects I see above. When finding a hooby you’re passionate about it’s important to choose something that fascinates you so it will be a long term project.
I hope you agree this is a fascinating hobby and one that is inspiring. It will also keep me learning about science and the universe. It also makes me think about what it means to live in this huge universe filled with beautiful and unknown objects.
What hobby would you like to try?
- Gelber, S. M. (1999). Hobbies: Leisure and the culture of work in America. Columbia University Press.
- Kalliopuska, M. (1989). Empathy, Self-Esteem and Creativity among Junior Ballet Dancers. Perceptual and Motor Skills, 69(3–2), 1227–1234. https://doi.org/10.1177/00315125890693-230
- Luhtanen, R., & Crocker, J. (1992). A collective self-esteem scale: Self-evaluation of one’s social identity. Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, 18(3), 302–318. https://doi.org/10.1177/0146167292183006
Website Author and Your Guide
Karl Perera is a fully qualified Life Coach (DipLC), Teacher (MA), and author of the book Self Esteem Secrets. He has taught at various universities including Durham, Leicester and Anglia Ruskin, Cambridge. He has run More-SelfEsteem.com since 1997 since suffering from low self esteem for more than 25 years overcoming it in his thirties.