Well, here I am again. The last year has gone so fast that I haven't had chance to slow down and consider what's important to me. I followed absolutely none of my own advice in my last blog post about burnout and, whilst I never actually got to a stage that I would call burnout. I've definitely been struggling to find a balance between what I do for a living and what I enjoy in life.
Enter: the new year. It's a time of reflection, and my friends are always really good at getting me to stop and think about what I'm doing. I realised this year that if I continue to prioritise my work life (which is important, don't get me wrong) then I'm going to completely lose some of the other things that I value about my life, including writing, which is a creative outlet for me as well as something that helps me to focus my thoughts on different topics. So, one of the things I've decided to do is to start blogging again.
Thinking about blogging again led me to wonder about re-connecting with hobbies when you've had a long break. How do you get back in the water when you haven't been swimming for months? What about speaking a different language when your skills are rusty? It seems apt to think about for my first blog post back after a (really, really) long break!
It makes sense to say that, whatever the hobby, you should probably approach re-engaging with it in a slow and steady manner. This holds double for physical hobbies such as running, where there's a chance of injury if you go into it as though you only laced up your trainers two days ago. There's a reason why you stopped doing it in the first place, and reminding yourself of how much you enjoy it probably isn't going to happen if you push yourself into a gruelling painting marathon, or spend three hours trying to learn Sweet Child o'Mine on the guitar. If it's something you want to stick to, you're better off not going from 0 - 100.
Why are you even bothering?
Sounds a bit brutal, but it's also worth thinking about why you want to pick that particular hobby up again. For me, I like writing, and whilst I spend a lot of time at work writing clinic letters and reports, writing for fun isn't something I get to do as much any more. Working full-time in the NHS during the pandemic was (and continues to be) incredibly challenging, and I also changed jobs last year (and picked up a new one doing private therapy work with Mindler). Writing took a back seat. But I do enjoy it; I like the feeling of accomplishment when my brain solves a problem I've been thinking about and I get to put that into words. I like having conversations about things I've written, and getting feedback on it from others. From a young age, I enjoyed writing fiction, and it's something I should definitely do more of. But, blogging is a good place to start, as it connects me with some of the things I value about writing without making me feel too pressured. In terms of hobbies you want to pick back up, why are you even bothering? If you can answer that (without the answer being "it's something I should be doing"!) then you're closer to re-engaging with that hobby.
Why shouldn't I say "should"?
On that note, I'm going to explain why I don't think "I should do it" is a good reason to pick up a hobby (both re-engaging with a hobby, or picking up a new one). Put simply, "I should" usually puts someone else in the driving seat, e.g. "I should do it because other people do it," or "I should do it because my sister thinks it's a good idea," or even "it's a socially acceptable thing to do." Doing things for other people loses the reasons that you're doing it for you, and makes it harder to stick to your hobby over time. So if I hear you saying that you "should" do something, I'm always going to ask you why - who says you should, and what's it got to do with them anyway?!
In the spirit of taking my own advice, I'm going to keep this blog post fairly short. I'm hoping that I can maintain writing over the next few months, so I don't want to burn myself out too soon. If you've got any ideas for things you think I should write about, let me know, and hopefully I'll see you around here next week!
Dr Sarah Blackshaw: Clinical Psychologist, blogger, tea drinker, interested in dinosaurs and shiny objects