The joy of the ukulele and all other hobbies!

I’ve still got self-care floating around as a theme so wanted to add some more on the subject. In particular why it’s great to have new hobbies or interests. 

Learning new things is a key action that the organisation ‘Action for Happiness’ recommends. From their site: ‘Learning affects our well-being in lots of positive ways. It exposes us to new ideas and helps us stay curious and engaged. It also gives us a sense of accomplishment and helps boost our self-confidence and resilience.’ Who would like some of that?

That’s the research but I thought I’d share my experience as someone who has tried a zillion new hobbies. I get bored easily and love learning new things so generally take up probably 3ish new hobbies a year. This term I have joined a class to learn the Ukulele and it is great. Here are the benefits of my new hobby:

* I can literally feel new brain connections happening (thus helping reduce the chances of dementia etc). One hand has to strum, the other has to change chords and my mouth has to sing an entirely different melody. It takes full concentration.

* I love the group learning. As we came in for the second session we’d all really struggled with home practice and were all feeling hopeless. The coaching term for this is ‘consciously incompetent’ – we knew we weren’t doing it right but couldn’t correct it ourselves. But the shared experience of incompetence gave instant connection and a sense of ‘we’re all finding this tricky’ and for some probably ‘I’m not a total failure after all’. 

* Everyone knows that singing makes you happy. I’m not a natural singer, far from it, but none of us feel confident in our singing so we all just give it a go anyway and together it sounds just fine.

* It’s a very mindful activity. Whether in the class or practicing at home, you can’t really think about anything else while you’re doing it. 

* Never a dull moment. Our teacher encourages us to pick up the Uke (that’s what us musicians call it) even while waiting for the kettle to boil. And it’s very relaxing on account of the mindfulness aspect mentioned above. 

* I love hobbies that will help me in old age. Once I improve a bit more I can join the local monthly Uke jam at a pub in town! 

* Added bonus, my singing and playing is so bad that, if the kids take too long to eat their food, I get my Uke out and that gets them scoffing. It certainly beats shouting.

Learning new things exposes us to new situations, gives new brain connections, we meet new people, we have a shared group experience and it helps to bring happiness and joy. For other hobby ideas here’s some other classes I’ve enjoyed over the years: Art, Watercolour painting class, Shiatsu massage, Thai cookery, Wine tasting, Meditation, Netball, Yoga, Circuits, Running, Pilates, Nia, Vegan cookery, Raw Food cookery, Pottery, Pottery on the Wheel, Ballroom & Latin dance Class, Salsa dance class, Book club, Rock Choir, Adult Glee singing club .. and probably lots of others that I’ve forgotten too. 

If you’ve had an urge or quite fancied giving something a go I really encourage you to try it. It can be hard to find the time but is so worthwhile. Please like / share to encourage your friends to get out and expand their hobbies too. Many thanks, Sue X