The Clinton Herald, Clinton, Iowa

Living Well

December 16, 2012

Hobbies a key to mental health

My boyfriend and I celebrated Christmas early with his family last weekend and I got an exciting gift, a ukelele!

I have played the guitar off and on since I was in eighth grade and randomly became intrigued by the ukelele about a year ago. This new gift also encouraged me to dust off the old guitar and start playing again, something that I had neglected for quite some time.

While I have several other hobbies that I practice more frequently such as running, yoga, baking and reading, I felt bad that I had neglected something I had enjoyed for so long. I think we all get bogged down with work, other committments and the stress of being an adult that we often forget to take time to do the things we truely enjoy.

If you think about it, your entire young life from preschool through college, you are constantly involved in a variety of activities and are trying new things all the time. Once you join the "real world" and get a big kid job, it seems like many of these interests are things of the past. I went from being involved in about seven different sports, organizations and activities, to a fast-paced job in a town where I knew no one and had little free time.

In general, adults aren't really encouraged to join sports teams or partake in activities. It's almost like once you become an adult you're suppose to focus on work and little else, or it's like you've outgrown the things you used to love.

While I think exercise is a great form of release, it's equally important to have other activities that stimulate your mind and offer enrichment in different ways. Taking time to enjoy the things you love is a great escape from everyday life and even acts as a form of therapy.

Strumming my new ukelele gave me a new sense of accomplishment and ease that I hadn't felt in a long time. Now my next project is to find a way to use and practice my French so my French minor doesn't go to waste.

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Katie Dahlstrom is a staff writer for the Clinton Herald. She has been employed with the Herald since April. When she's not following the actions of the city council or other local government bodies, she's busy exploring the area.

Natalie Conrad is a staff writer for the Clinton Herald. She has been employed with the Herald since 2011. She enjoys running marathons and trying different recipes.