Five reasons to pursue part-time passions

MJ ANGEL
Last updated 09:00 16/08/2014
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I'LL HAVE WHAT SHE'S HAVING: Don't worry about it making you busier ... carving out time just for yourself and pursuing your passions will actually lower bad stress and boost positivity.

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Passions; those secret little desires and grandiose, escapist ideas that niggle us deep inside our bellies as we sit in our office or travel to work, taunting, teasing us with the promise of a better life, more money, fame or just freedom from the daily grind.

Some dream of making their Oscar acceptance speech instead of presenting the quarterly budgets, others imagine being on stage singing to hordes of people screaming their name, as the on-hold music plays and they're in a queue and will be attended to as soon as possible.

Daydreams can take us to far away lands; excavating for treasure in Egypt, fossicking through antique markets in Marrakesh, volunteering in Africa or hurtling to stratospheric heights on a mission to space.

Some fantasise about that little idea, if only they had the time, money and motivation, it, they could become the next big thing.

We get so stuck in the rut of mortgages, bills, kids and work and that thing called life, that we let it rule us and forget we're here to live it. We stop dreaming and forget that it's entirely possible to have your day job and pursue a part-time passion too.

So when there's just 24 hours in a day, seven days in a week, can we possibly play with our passions and use them as a creative outlet to inspire, even better our everyday lives?

The answer of course is, yes! A part-time passion serves not just as a creative outlet, but a funnel for stress and negativity. Sure, pursuing our part-time passion mightn't make us the next Steve Jobs or Rihanna, but when we engage in activities we enjoy it stimulates "positive psychology".

A more modern approach to psychology seeks to focus not on pathology, but on what contributes to human happiness and emotional health. Focusing on what triggers our pleasure, excitement and other factors that help us thrive, achieve a sense of fulfilment as well as more effectively manage stress.

We know anger, anxiety, sadness and depression can play havoc with our health, and the research into positive psychology has shown that positive emotions can aid health by undoing the physical reactivity that leads to these problems.

And if that's not enough to inspire you, here are five more reasons why pursuing a part-time passion is good for you ...

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1. Buffers the burnout

Taking a few hours out every week just for you is a great way to de-stress, decompress and forget about the daily grind. It helps establish worklife balance, so when it's time to head back to reality you'll automatically feel more relaxed and refreshed to deal with whatever comes your way.

2. Promotes eustress

There are two categories of stress; eustress and distress.

Most of us are familiar with distress, the kind that leads to increased in blood pressure, anxiety, irritability and sleep deprivation. These can then lead us to other negative coping mechanisms, like overeating, loss of appetite, drinking and smoking.

Pursuing a part-time passion promotes eustress, a "positive stress" that motivates us to continue to be happy, inspired, challenged and productive.

3. Gets you in touch with your creative side

When we express ourselves creatively we get an instant feeling of gratification and pride. Often through the creative process we are paying attention to how we feel as opposed to what we feel we must do, be or need.

4. Promotes happiness

It's simple ... do something you love and you feel good, when you feel good, you feel happy and when you feel happy you're a better friend, colleague, parent, partner and all round better YOU!

5. Learn something new

Regardless of what your part-time passion or creative outlet is it usually involves the development of a skill, be it cooking, learning a language or musical instrument.

Hundreds of studies of adults and seniors have found those who engage in creative activities are healthier, have fewer visits to the GP, use fewer medications, are more outgoing, have higher morale, are more socially active, less lonely and more optimistic about life.

Part-time passions are good for our bodies and our minds. When we feel happy and inspired it's easier to be grateful, optimistic and have the strength to tackle those curve balls when life throws them at us.

There's no right time or good time, there's just this time, now ... So what are you waiting for? What is your part-time passion and what's stopping you from pursuing it?

- Sydney Morning Herald

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