January is National Hobby Month
Hobbies can take many forms. For example, chess is one of the oldest board games and one of countless games players can play in competition against others or against themselves. (Photo Credit: Courtesy photo) VIEW ORIGINAL

FORT LEONARD WOOD, Mo. — January is National Hobby Month, a time when Americans of all ages are encouraged to celebrate their hobbies, share their favorites with others and discover new ones to enjoy.

COVID-19 cancellations and lockdowns notwithstanding here in 2021, the month is often accompanied by cold temperatures, inhospitable weather and a lack of organized events, making it the perfect time of year to engage in constructive personal activities.

Whether collecting or creating items or learning new skills, multiple studies have shown that engaging in hobbies is a great way to ward off feelings of isolation and depression and connect with others who have similar interests, according to the National Institutes of Health.

For those who might need a little inspiration to get started, here are five types of hobbies you may enjoy:

1. Collecting: From stamps, coins and comic books to fine art, auto parts and kitchen knickknacks, nearly all items made by human hands have a group of people dedicated to collecting them. The nice thing about collections is they can start small and grow to be as all-encompassing or selective as you wish. Just remember, whatever you collect, it’s a good rule of thumb to prioritize healthy financial practices over investments in collectibles, and it never hurts to do research and consult with other collectors through message boards or social media groups before diving in too deeply.

January is National Hobby Month
Stamp collecting is enjoyed by more than 5 million people in the U.S. alone, according to the American Philatelic Society. (Photo Credit: Courtesy photo) VIEW ORIGINAL

2. Arts and crafts: Fine arts, such as painting, drawing, sculpture, photography, music and writing, can be great avenues of self-expression and self-discovery. While most fine arts take years to master, they can be an enjoyable pastime even at the most basic level — and who knows? You may have a hidden talent you didn’t know you had. Like the arts, crafts also involve levels of self-expression, but often result in practical products and usually involve skills almost anyone can learn with enough time and dedication. Crafts include a range of hobbies from knitting to woodworking, pottery making, jewelry making, scrapbooking, beadwork, basket weaving, making your own candles, soap and more.

3. Gaming: From card games to board games to video games, it’s no secret that human beings love to compete against each other and themselves. Some classic board games, like early versions of chess, have been around for thousands of years, yet still enjoy resurgences in popularity, while other, lesser-known games (even video games, which have only been around 50 years) are all but relegated to obscurity. Learning new games can not only be fun, but can sometimes train your brain to employ new strategies — including some of use when playing other games. Even if you’re home alone, there are many games you can play, and not just online. There are, for example, more than 1,000 versions of solitaire alone.

4. Fandom: Have you ever heard something called a “cult classic?” While the term is mostly used to describe movies, certain books, comics, TV series, games and even video games also have groups of people dedicated to perpetually celebrating them. Fans of these properties often recreate costumes, sets or entire scenes from these works. Some create drawings, paintings or other illustrations of their favorite characters or create their own movies, known as “fan films.” Others spend hours creating “fan fiction,” short stories or sometimes even whole novels — none of which can be legally sold, but are often shared with other fans via dedicated websites or social media groups.

5. Get physical: Fitness is an extremely healthy hobby and one that can easily be combined with New Years’ resolutions. While there are a multitude of exercise options available, physical activity doesn’t necessarily have to involve calisthenics or a set workout regimen. Mildly physically demanding activities like home-improvement projects, interior decorating or indoor gardening can also be beneficial and rewarding. Time can also be spent researching and learning about physical activities that can be done or that require some training, such as martial arts, yoga or scuba diving.

Whatever hobby interests you, remember that the main goal is to have fun.

For more information on the health benefits of hobbies and activities, the National Institutes of Health has a collection of studies and articles on its website at https://bit.ly/2WuwW7y.