FLOURISH consists of: Food, Liquid, Oxygen, Use, Relaxation, Interest, Sleep, Happiness. This is a model I invented some years ago and which schools love because of its simplicity, practicality and good sense. (You can download FLOURISH resources. Click here and scroll down.)
Having a hobby ticks the following boxes:
The brain works on a “use it or lose it” principle, meaning that if we don’t use certain parts much we lose connections (or don’t grow them in the first place) in those areas. So, it’s a good idea to do a wide variety of activities. Hobbies can help us do that. If I’m at my desk writing and reading all day, I need a hobby that uses different areas: so I have running, cycling, cooking and gardening. I keep the variety going even within those things, too. For example, I’m learning to preserve the food I grow in the garden, by learning to pickle things, make jams, jellies, cordials, other drinks and fruit leathers.
Most hobbies would have a relaxation benefit because they are different from our work. They are things we’ve chosen to do. They tend to be engaging, helping us take our mind off whatever troubles or stresses we have. They re-charge our batteries, even if the hobby is quite energetic. As I’m always saying, “relaxation is not a luxury”: it’s important!
Our brain works better when it is interested and we tend to have hobbies that interest us – otherwise, why would we have them? A hobby is something we look forward to doing and it’s different from our work so it feels fresh each time we come to it. Also, we tend not to do it every day or at least not several times a day so we don’t quickly get bored with a hobby. And, if we do, we can just stop, because it’s voluntary.
To have good well-being, we need enough periods of time when we have positive feelings – active happiness, you might call it, when we genuinely are enjoying ourselves. (The P in Martin Seligman’s model of PERMA stands for “positive emotions”.) It’s likely that our hobbies will give us those moments. When I’ve had a hard day or week doing school events or speaking at a conference involving lots of travelling, as I walk up to my vegetable garden and start watering or picking produce, I get a real, physical feeling of happiness. I feel it in my heart.
So, if you’re starting a long school holiday, think about your hobbies. Maybe you don’t have time during term-time but you do now! You’ll have all sorts of benefits and do your brain a power of good, making it better able to work well next term. If you don’t have a hobby, get together with a friend and think about what you could start. There are hundreds of things out there and something to suit everyone. It could be physical or mental, quiet or noisy, solitary or social, outside or inside, and creative in countless ways.
Hobbies can lead to careers, too. If you want to be a writer one day, get writing now – most writers started writing as a hobby. In fact, I can’t really think of any other way to start!
The only rule is it needs to be something you want to try. Go for it – your brain will thank you!
For all the other 52 WAYS to WELL-BEING for people of all ages, put “52 ways” in the search box at the top of this page.