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A little bit of what you love….

No I’m not talking about cake. Finding fulfilment in life is important for our happiness but also for our health.

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In the short term and the long term. A great way to find fulfilment is to pursue your passion.

Indulging in that passion regularly has been found to reduce stress, improve our immunity, our mental health, our memory and even delay the onset of Alzheimer’s.

Work to live or live to work?

We all want to find fulfilment in our jobs, our studies and our sport. ‘Make your passion your work’ they say. ‘That is the route to success’, they say. But this isn’t possible for everyone. Not everyone has a passion through which you could pursue a career. A growing body of research suggests that pursuing your passion does indeed improve your well-being but that where you do it is far less critical. In fact, several studies show that doing something you are passionate about outside of work rather than in it benefits both your career and your personal life. Particularly useful to know if you haven’t started working yet!

So, let’s explore the unexpected benefits that might be hiding in your hobbies and how you can exploit that knowledge for a happier and healthier life.

Hobbies’ hidden powers

Studies have proven that people who pursue their hobbies enjoy a number of health and wellbeing benefits. They feel more positive and optimistic, they experience reduced stress, reduced blood pressure and improved heart health, they sleep better, they have improved neuroplasticity, brain function and memory and have a lower risk of developing Alzheimer’s. Not bad for doing something you love.

But I’m not good at anything

At Welfy, we define a passion as something that challenges you, intrigues you, motivates you and evolves you. And yet, it is often these things that go on the backburner when we are under pressure or feeling anxious. But there is now evidence to suggest that we should fiercely protect the time we spend doing what we love, especially in times of pressure.

It could be a sport or it could be something creative like art or music. It could be something challenging like climbing or something relaxing like yoga or walking. It could be something alone or something you do with others. It might be something that benefits others like becoming involved with a charity. And this has multiple other benefits for your wellbeing.

Pursuing your passion isn’t selfish, it isn’t about procrastinating from what’s important. It IS what’s important to keep us happy and healthy. The lower our stress the better our immune system can function.

The most common excuse we all make for not pursuing our passions, is a lack of time. So here are Welfy’s top three tips on making your passion your priority:

1. The 7 minute rule

What if I told you that 7 minutes a day is enough? Evidence now suggests that we can get all of the benefits of our passions by indulging in them for just 7 minutes. Ok, this may not suit every hobby, you’re not going to load the car up and travel 24 hours to go kayaking for 7 minutes but doing something you love daily is really important. So try to find something you could dip into for just 7 minutes.

When we want to form new habits, we know that the most important piece of advice is to keep it tiny. This gives us a dopamine hit every time we achieve that goal, it makes it easy and it leaves us wanting more.

2. Keep learning

Learning is key for keeping us engaged. Autonomy and competence (or mastery) are also important needs that we have but just because you get competent at something, doesn’t mean we should stop striving to learn more. It’s best to operate just on the edge of our comfort zone.

This continuous learning is the unlocker for our brain health, giving us improved neuroplasticity, improved memory and reducing our risk of Alzheimer’s.

3. Engage others

There are so many reasons to engage others in your commitment to pursuing your passion. You may need to contract with your loved ones that you get the time you need to pursue your passion, in return for protecting their time to pursue theirs.

You may want to involve your friends or family in pursuing the passion together. Evidence now suggests we get a special kind of high from moving alongside others. It also works to have an accountability buddy, in fact you are 95% more likely to stick to your goal.

So, if you’re not sure what your passion is, try asking yourself a few simple questions: What did you love doing as a child? What could you lose track of time doing? What could you read loads of books on and not get bored of?

Get inspired, prize yourself away from Netflix and get out there. Or in there. Or on there. Or off there.

Passion is energy. Feel the power that comes from focusing on what excites you.

Oprah Winfrey

This month’s Personal Wellbeing Report content has been supplied by Welfy, a workplace wellbeing training consultancy supporting individuals and businesses to redefine success. We specialise in workplace wellbeing workshops, wellbeing strategy consultancy and leadership development helping people to live happier, healthier and more productive lives.

To find out more, visit www.welfy.co.uk.

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