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Why hobbies are important

Having a hobby that we enjoy brings us joy and enriches our lives. It gives us something fun to do during our leisure time and affords us the opportunity to learn new skills. We are very fortunate to have so many different options out there today. In fact, there are entire websites devoted to hobbies and interests. 

The best way to cultivate a new hobby is to try something new. The world is full of wonderful, exciting activities that we can explore and adopt as our own. Of course, all of us are unique and, therefore, our interests and hobbies vary. But once we find a hobby that we truly enjoy and are passionate about, we become hooked. It becomes part of our lives and captivates us in a very personal way. 

There are many reasons why all of us should have at least one hobby, but here are the main advantages: 

1.It makes you more interesting. People who have hobbies have experiences and stories that they can share with others. They also have specialised knowledge that they can teach to anyone who also has an interest in the same topics as they do.  

2.It helps to relieve stress by keeping you engaged in something you enjoy. Hobbies give you a way to take your mind off the stresses of everyday life. They let you relax and seek pleasure in activities that aren’t associated with work, chores or other responsibilities. 

3.Hobbies help you become more patient. In order to develop a new hobby, you have to learn how to do something that is brand new to you. The odds are there will be a learning curve, and you will need to be patient in order to build your skills. 

4.Having a hobby can help your social life and create a bond with others. A hobby is something that you can frequently enjoy with other people. Whether you join a club, play in a league, or just gift others with the fruits of your labour, a hobby is a great way to meet and get closer to people who have the same interests as you do. 

5.It increases your confidence and self-esteem. The odds are that if you really enjoy an activity, you are usually pretty good at it. Any activity that you can excel in is an opportunity for you to build your confidence and develop pride in your accomplishments. 

6.Hobbies help reduce or eradicate boredom. They give you something to do when you find yourself with nothing to fill your time. They also give you an activity that you can look forward to and get excited about. 

7.It helps you develop new skills. A hobby that you really dedicate your time to will lead you to build new skills. As you spend more time at your hobby you will become better and better at it. 

8. It increases your knowledge. Along with building new skills, you will also gain new knowledge through the development of your hobby. 

9. It enriches your life and gives you a different perspective on things. No matter what type of hobby you choose, you will definitely be exposed to new ideas. Hobbies help you grow in various ways, including exposing you to new opinions and to new ways to look at life.  

10. It challenges you. When you pick a new hobby, you will be involved in activities that are novel and challenging. If you don’t find your hobby challenging, then you also won’t find it engaging, and it will be less enjoyable. That means you need to find a better hobby. 

11. It helps prevent bad habits and wasting time. There is an old saying that “idle hands are the devil’s workshop.” If you have good hobbies to fill up your free time, then you will be less likely to spend that time on wasteful or negative activities. 

Why not spend time on your hobby or find a new one to get involved with? If you don’t know what to try, take a look here – 20 questions to help you find a new hobby!

Your Safety

Sadly, the reported levels of domestic abuse have increased during the Covid-19 lockdown.

There are different kinds of abuse that can happen in different contexts. The most prevalent type of domestic abuse occurs in relationships. But the definition of domestic abuse also covers abuse between family members.

If you are affected or you are concerned for someone’s welfare you can get up to date advice on the links below.

UK Gov

IE Gov

Twitter

#MakeYourselfHeard

#SilentSolution

MINI CHALLENGES

This week we have added a few different hobby-based challenges. You could choose one or more from the list below.

  • Camp out in the garden
  • Watch 3 documentaries with 3 different themes
  • Start a virtual book club
  • Read a book in a new genre
  • Have a board game championship at home
  • Learn a new recipe
  • Start a scrap book 

PODCAST

Looking for inspiration? Player FM has a range of podcasts available for lot of hobbies, everything from keeping up with news from Marvel to photography and gardening! Take a look here for more ideas.

GARDEN BIRDS TO SEE AND HEAR WITHOUT LEAVING HOME  

by Paddy Woodworth 

Use this chance to get to know the species that come to almost every garden daily  

Full article available here. 

Common blackbird  

Birds are potent symbols of unconfined liberty. And even the caged bird sings. 

At this exceptional moment, with our freedom of movement drastically but necessarily constrained, we are likely to feel a particular envy for the flight of seagulls beyond our windows, and also to understand something of that compulsion to keep singing when our wings are clipped. 

But we can’t live by symbols alone. The actual birds that most of us can still see and hear, even from city flats, can enable us to focus on attractive creatures still going about their daily business, untouched by the crisis that overwhelms our world. That alone is a benefit. 

If you have never much noticed birds before, this is a chance to learn the pleasure of getting to know some of the species that come to almost every garden daily. They may even be lured to apartment windows by attaching a seed or nut feeder, though supermarket supplies are, naturally, more limited every day. 

And if you are an avid birder, this period is an opportunity to get know very familiar species much better. Have you always thought a male and female goldfinch are identical? Look more closely at their vividly multi-colored plumage – you’ll need a minute or two, and binoculars – and you may find tell-tale differences. 

Common garden birds fall into several broad groups: blackbirds and thrushes, tits, finches, as well as the robin, wren and house sparrow. Many other birds may frequent gardens, depending on the plants and habitats they offer. Lucky people may find woodpeckers, sparrow hawks, and even herons. You could also look and listen for migration overhead at this time of year. 

You can find good advice on attracting and identifying garden birds, on https://birdwatchireland.ie/irelands-birds-birdwatch-ireland/, where you can also record your sightings, contributing to conservation efforts. 

A plethora of visual and audio aps and guides are available, but for an introduction to common songs try this: https://greennews.ie/know-your-birdsong-click-through-our-quick-guide-to-the-calls-of-common-irish-birds/Here are brief introductions to some of your most likely visitors. 

Blackbird 
Easy-peasy, right? (see main photo above). Well, the male is certainly distinctive: glossy black all over, except for a Day-Glo orange-yellow eye ring and beak, the latter most vivid in spring. Unlike the crows – jackdaws and rooks, also black – that are likely to visit you, the blackbird is elegantly slender, and has a liquidly musical song. The female, however, might be confused with a thrush: nondescript brown, with variable lighter streaking on the breast, and a duller beak. 

 

Song thrush 
Same size and shape as the blackbird, but chocolate brown above, and arrowhead small spots on contrasting buff breast and white belly. Loves to sing conspicuously from high perches, a wide repertoire of rich notes, typically repeating them individually or in small groups. Like the blackbird, hunts for worms in lawns, and partial to berries. 

Chaffinch 
Half the size of blackbird, with the stout seed-eating bill typical of finches. Male has rich pink breast, throat and cheeks, a grey hood and black and white flashes on wings. The female is a grey-brown echo of the male’s patterns. He sings frequently, repeating the same loud, descending phrases. Birders will focus on the red-brown mantle (back), distinguishing our version from some continental and African sub-species, where it is greenish. 

Goldfinch 
Our showiest and most exotic garden bird. Chaffinch-sized, with a bright red ‘face’ around a pinkish bill, framed boldly framed in black and white. It has striking yellow-and-black wings, which also show strong smart white spots while perched. Light brownish back and breast. Sexes appear identical, but birders can find details that may betray gender, find out more here. 

Great tit 
The largest of this somewhat unfortunately named but very common group (etymology: titmouse- ‘small bird’). It displays an olive-green back, dramatic black and white contrast on the head, and a broad black stripe on its bloated-looking yellow breast and belly. Constantly active and acrobatic, usually in small flocks with other tits. Its most typical high-pitched call sounds like “teach-er, teach-er”. Birders will look for the female’s broken, weaker breast stripe. 

Blue tit 
So common that some birders, unforgivably, dismiss it as a “trash bird”. This endearing bird is like a smaller version of the great tit with blue wings and tail, and blue replacing black on the crown, especially luminous in the male. Often seen with coal tit, similarly sized, but patterned like a great tit, in drab brown-greys. 

Long-tailed tit 
Less common than the other tits, only likely if you have woods near or in your garden. But a party of these birds hanging on a single feeder is a magical sight: cute black, white, and rusty puffballs with tails – longer than their bodies – at all angles, giving the impression of a single and bizarre sea creature. 

Wren 
One of our smallest – and most common – birds, this tiny brown bundle is more often heard than seen, but still visible enough. It trills with a voice five times its size from the heart of a bush, before shooting low, straight as a bullet, to another. It sings in more exposed positions, too. Watch for the minuscule tail, held proudly erect at right angles to the body, and seeming to vibrate with its song. 

House Sparrow 
Almost a synonym for small brown bird, this sparrow has declined in rural areas, but is still very common in suburbia. The stocky male is a rich brown, with a contrasting grey cap. The size of the black patch on its grey breast reflects its social and sexual dominance. The much duller (to our eyes) female resembles the female chaffinch but has bold black and buff streaks on its back. 


Robin 
Probably the best-known bird in European cultures, its fearlessness around gardeners gives it a name for kindly friendship. I’m afraid it’s just using you to dig up its dinner, while scaring away its predators. Its iconic red breast – actually fringed in the most delicate blue-grey – gave rise to legends: it was washed in Christ’s blood when it gently removed a thorn from his crucified brow. Or it got burned fanning the embers to keep the baby Jesus warm. 

USEFUL LINKS

With so much information out there, here are some that have been suggested that might help you…..

The best meditation and mindfulness apps to help you de-stress and stay calm 

Mindfulness is a technique anyone can try to help calm their mind - and it can help to manage depression, anxiety and stress according to mental health charity Mind. This can be beneficial if you are working from home or dealing with furlough / lay-off. 

Here's our pick of some of the best. 

Calm - Meditation and Sleep  

One of the most popular meditation apps on the market, Calm's library of audio content helps users to tackle stress, anxiety, insomnia and depression.  

Its most popular feature is a 10-minute meditation called The Daily Calm, which explores a new mindful theme each day.  

The Calm app is free to download but you'll need a paid subscription to Calm Premium (£29.99 a year) to make the most of it.  

Headspace: Meditation & Sleep 

There are more than 100 hours of guided practices to choose from, tailored to everything from managing stress and anxiety to improving sleep. 

You can give it a try with its free Basics pack, a 10-day beginner’s course that guides you through the essentials of meditation and mindfulness.  

After that, a subscription costs £9.99 a month or £49.99 a year. 

Stop Breathe & Think 

This app is centred around three simple principles: encouraging users to Stop and check in with what they are thinking and feeling; Breathe, in a mindful way to create space between your thoughts, emotions and reactions; and Think, with personalised meditations and activities that broaden your perspective.  

Oak - Meditation & Breathing  

Oak offers guided meditation practices ranging from five to 30 minutes in length. 

You can choose to sit in silence or listen to a soothing background track - think bells, streams and other gentle sounds. 

It also teaches you simple yogic breathing exercises that can easily be performed on-the-go, as well as ones that can help you drift off to sleep. 

The app is free to download, and most features are included, but you can pay for optional courses too. 

Lumosity Mind  

An offshoot of brain training app Lumosity, this new app promises clear and approachable mindfulness practices. 

It features daily meditations based on your interests and experience that can help you relax, focus or improve your attention.  

There are also guided courses like Cultivating Kindness and Inviting Sleep to explore. 

 

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