By Leanora Minai
February/March, 2018 Issue
Hobbies Make a Healthy Blue Devil
When I was a kid, I collected postage stamps. I also liked to build and launch Estes model rockets with my neighborhood friends. And I dabbled in audio production, recording interviews and conversations on a clunky Panasonic cassette recorder.
My hobbies evolved in later years, and as an adult, journalism became my all-consuming passion. In recent months, with the launch of Healthy Duke, I've given a lot of thought to the connection between hobbies and mental and emotional well-being.
Mental and emotional well-being is a core theme of Healthy Duke, the campus wellness campaign aimed at helping us make changes to live healthier, improve our quality of life and meet our full potential.
In this issue, we address emotional well-being with the story, "Power Your Mood with a Passion," which starts on page 8. Six employees share their hobbies and how the activities help them.
Hobbies help us disconnect from work and rebuild our mental energy, says Dr. Jon Bae, Assistant Professor of Medicine and a co-convener for the Mental and Emotional Well-being arm of Healthy Duke.
"We are constantly inundated with new demands on our brain wave capacity," he says. "There's all of this multitasking that happens throughout the day and that's exhausting. Your brain needs time to recharge from that."
A hobby is a gateway into shared experience with others, which is a powerful way to cultivate community and define a personal identity for yourself, Bae explains.
"Having hobbies allows you to grow and share those social connections," he says.
Bae recharges by exploring music and reading something unrelated to work for 20 minutes every night. A Stephen King fan, he's currently in a Western fiction phase.
I no longer collect stamps or build model rockets. These days, I consider all of the activities associated with learning to be a passion – everything from exploring near and faraway places on foot to combing through archival papers and photographs as part of my master's degree studies at Duke.
Your hobby doesn't need to be complicated; it just needs to be something you love to do.
"It has to be organic," Bae says. "It just has to be something you like doing a little bit each day."