Tag Archives: hobbies

Having hobbies boosts confidence at work — but only if they’re very different from your job

There are many studies that measure how productivity at the workplace is affected by family life, but not nearly enough attention has been given to the influence of leisure activities. Seeking to bridge the gap, researchers led by Ciara Kelly, a lecturer in work psychology at Sheffield University, UK, studied how hobbies affect work performance.

Credit: Pixabay.

The team recruited 129 volunteers who each had at least one hobby, from climbing to improv comedy. The seriousness with which each participant approached their hobbies was measured with a scale measuring test where they had to rate how much they agreed with statements like “I regularly train for this activity.” The researchers took note of how similar the hobbies were to the participants’ work activities.

After this initial assessment, once a month for seven months the participants recorded the number of hours they spent on their hobbies and completed a questionnaire that measured how confident they felt at being effective at their jobs. For instance, they had to rate how much they agreed with statements like “At work I am able to successfully overcome many challenges.” Finally, the participants also completed a questionnaire that gauged their work resilience.

Work-hobby balance

When they treated their hobbies seriously by dedicating a larger than average amount of time to them, the participants’ belief in their ability to perform well at the workplace increased.

However, this conclusion was only valid if the hobby was dissimilar enough from the workplace activity. Otherwise, if the leisure activity is too similar to a person’s job, the reverse effect was observed. The participants who had a serious hobby that was similar to their job reported decreasing self-efficacy.

“We found that time spent on leisure over and above an individual’s average was positively related to work-related self-efficacy, but only when the individual’s leisure activities were high in seriousness and low in work-leisure similarity, or when they were low in seriousness and high in similarity. Investing time in leisure was negatively associated with self-efficacy when leisure activities were high in seriousness and similar to an individual’s work. Our findings paint a complex picture of the potential influence of leisure on career sustainability and highlight the need to take a nuanced approach when studying the effects of leisure,” the authors wrote in their study’s abstract.

The researchers suspect that this may be due to the fact that performing tasks with roughly the same kind of demands in both situations leaves a person psychologically drained. Conversely, a dissimilar hobby — a scientist interested in rock climbing or an engineer who takes amateur theater lessons — engages a person in other activities that offer more headspace.

These results, which were published in the Journal of Vocational Behavior, suggest that companies looking to boost employee productivity and morale might do themselves a favor by encouraging employees to pursue their hobbies — as long as they’re not too similar to what they do at work.

Drinking two glasses of wine a day, keeps premature death away

A long-term research, known as The 90+ Study, revealed some interesting statistics about longevity. Scientists were surprised to learn that the risk of premature death is lowered by 18% if you consume alcohol in low quantities (around 2 glasses of beer or wine per day). Meanwhile, exercising 15 to 45 minutes daily reduces the risk of early death by 11%.

Via Pixabay/Goyaines

This data seems a bit odd when looking at other studies which portray alcohol as carcinogenic.

“I have no explanation for it, but I do firmly believe that modest drinking improves longevity,” said neurologist Claudia Kawas from the University of California, that initiated the study in 2003.

Since then, Kawas has been studying a group of over 1,600 people over the age of 90. Scientists paid visits to the participants biannually. They performed various tests, such as cognitive, neuropsychological and physical ones. Researchers also collected data on the participant’s medical history, hobbies, diet, and daily activities.

Another curious discovery was that people who were overweight in their 70s lived longer than normal or underweight people. The team found that 90-year-olds who were a bit overweight, but not obese, had their chances of premature death lowered by 3 percent.

“It’s not bad to be skinny when you’re young but it’s very bad to be skinny when you’re old,” stated Kawas.

Other findings on longevity showed that people who spent about two hours daily on a hobby lowered their risk of premature death by 21 percent. Meanwhile, subjects who drank two cups of coffee each day saw the risk fall by 10 percent.

“These people are inspiring — they drink wine, drink coffee, gain weight, but they exercise and use their brains. Maybe that can tell us something,” Kawas added.

Other major findings discovered by the team are:

  • Over 40% of people aged 90 and older suffer from dementia while almost 80% are disabled. Both are more common in women than men.
  • About half of people with dementia over age 90 do not have sufficient neuropathology in their brain to explain their cognitive loss.
  • People aged 90 and older with an APOE2 gene are less likely to have clinical Alzheimer’s dementia but are much more likely to have Alzheimer’s neuropathology in their brains.

So, who is to tell that we can’t live our lives in a fun way? Perhaps the people who lived to be 90 were more relaxed than the ones who didn’t. Maybe this counts more than imposing restrictions upon ourselves. Maybe we should pay more attention to our desires, engaging more in our hobbies, and relax every night with a glass or two of wine. It doesn’t sound that bad, does it? I, for one, think I will subscribe to these simple ‘rules’ of living. Will you?