My youngest drawing with me at the park

As a full-time working online mom with three kids, a dog, a significant other and an ex-spouse who I co-parent my kids with while living 120 miles away, you’d think I wouldn’t have time to pursue hobbies. A strong believer in establishing priorities, I actually make time for hobbies on a weekly basis. I grew up watching my grandfather write and paint, my father practice sports and my grandmother knit and sew. So early on, I got involved with all these activities. My main hobbies are running, ballroom dancing, modern or Latin dancing and sketching. At one point or another they’ve all kept me sane during a difficult moments, or simply helped me de-stress and refocus. As much as I love writing, it is not my hobby. It’s how I make a living.

No matter how hectic my life can be, I am convinced of the health and psychological benefits of devoting time to something you do just for the fun of it. An article on the Yale School of Medicine website states, “People who have a hobby are generally healthier.” According to Peter Lichtenberg, Ph.D., director of the Institute of Gerontology at Wayne State University, hobbies also decrease the risk of depression and dementia. That sounds good to me.

Read Related: Crafting Your Way to a Stress-Free Life

How Hobbies Help Me Stay Sane-Art

This is how I see our dog.

Aside from the health benefits of having hobbies, they can also serve to unleash your creativity, de-stress, learn new skills and bond with your family or with your community. Take drawing for example. I may not be the best at it, but it’s something I can share with my kids, who love to doodle next to me as I sketch them, our dog or a tree in the yard. Sketching also takes me away from the computer and helps me look at my surroundings with fresh eyes.

Another one of my hobbies is running. Running helps me clear my mind while releasing endorphins, (feel good hormones associated with most forms of physical exertion). And dancing helps me stay focused and in a meditative state. When counting the beat and watching my step I really can’t think of anything else. All of these activities are therapeutic. And none of them take up a lot of time. A 10-minute sketch, a 20-minute run, or a one-hour dance class can do the trick. Over time, it all adds up.

How Hobbies Help Me Stay Sane-Piano

My eldest playing the piano.

Everyone is different. Some of the most accessible and affordable hobbies are sketching, painting, jogging, walking, and cooking.

Activities that can help you reconnect with nature are hiking, gardening, bird watching, and photography.

Hobbies that foster building community and meeting new people might include ballroom dancing, Latin dancing, bootcamp training and taking any arts and crafts class. Learning a language, joining a book club, knitting or making jewelry are all good, inexpensive hobbies.

In the end it doesn’t matter what hobby you choose as long as you enjoy it. It should never be a chore. It should be a fun activity you get pleasure from. It should be something to look forward to at the end of a long and arduous day or week. And it should be a reminder that you are more than your profession, your marital status or your college degree. A hobby helps you become a well-rounded, balanced person. And who knows, it may open the door to a career change somewhere down the road.