Looking for work can be emotionally draining. It creeps into your life, consuming nearly every minute of your day. At 11 p.m., you’re browsing job boards. At 3 a.m., you’re rewriting your resume for the five thousandth time. Weekends become a haunting ground for feelings of guilt and self-loathing, and any time spent away from the hunt feels squandered.
Whether you’re looking for a new job or trying to accelerate the career you have, having a hobby can take you far. So, put down the resume and close the job board, and read on to see how popular hobbies can benefit your career.
1. Growing your circle
Surveys of former job-hunters have generally returned the same results for the past few decades. While the medium may change, the single consistently highest-rated source of a new job is that dreaded n-word: networking.
The best way to do that may be to take up a hobby with a group-oriented focus. If you’re an athletic person, that might mean joining a recreational sports league in your area. If not, you could try a gaming group or table-top board-game meet-up.
No matter which route you go, these hobbies help to build and strengthen connections through cooperative competition. When it comes time to start job-hunting, having broadened your circle can increase the size of your dragnet. The more people you know, and the better you know them, the more likely it is one can lend you that crucial early tip-off or put in a good word.
2. Learning to manage your time
The trick is to find a happy medium, and doing so both requires and cultivates time-management, a skill which is highly in demand. Having a hobby forces you to learn how to handle your time: how to make, invest and spend it.
So why not kill two birds with one stone and take up a time-oriented hobby, such as cooking? Nothing teaches you how to master the clock like trying to get a hot four-course meal to the table all at once.
3. Better mental health
The links between personal pursuits and personal happiness are well known anecdotally and have recently begun emerging in research. People who have hobbies are generally happier, and people who aren’t happy tend not to have them. Furthermore, hobbies with repetitive physical motions can put us into flow, a psychologically beneficial state that is remarkably similar to that achieved through meditation.
4. Better physical health
Studies show it takes around 66 days to form a habit, and repeating habitual behavior is psychologically rewarding. So if you’re looking to improve your physical health, you’d be hard-pressed to find any way of doing that which doesn’t involve taking up an ongoing hobby.
5. Stronger self-discipline
Soft skills are the focus of increasing attention by employers, and effective self-management is one of them. More than that, though, people with stronger self-discipline are happier and more productive overall.
6. More self-reliance
By taking up a hobby that encourages self-reliance, you can avoid the trap of learned helplessness and steer clear of the steep-sided pit that is worker-discouragement and unemployment. After a week of hard searching, outdoor activities like camping are great ways to blow off steam and learn self-reliance at the same time. There’s no better encouragement to “figure it out” than trying to pitch a tent under dwindling daylight—and no greater satisfaction than eating food you made in a shelter you built yourself.
7. Encourage creativity
Here’s a fun exercise: grab a piece of pen and paper, and in 60 seconds, list as many uses for a brick (besides the obvious “building a wall”) as you can possibly think of.
This experiment, first devised in 1967, is called the Guilford Alternative Uses Test, and it’s a means of measuring creativity. No surprise, then, that those who score the best tend to be those who are regularly creative in their daily lives.
The health benefits of creativity are well-known, and likewise for job-hunting benefits. Employers desperately want workers capable of outside-the-box thinking, so why not make yourself a more appealing candidate by taking up a hobby that’s creative in nature.
8. Figure out what’s important and cultivate YOU
Soul-searching is not an idle exercise: It’s hard work, with distinct consequences for neglect and strong benefits for success. Hobbies, then, are the mad scientist lab of the soul: they’re your opportunity to play and experiment with what makes you tick.
One of the best ways to cultivate yourself as a person is also one of the most rewarding hobbies: Volunteering your time and skills to charity. Head over to volunteermatch.org to find causes and events near you.
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This article originally appeared on Entrepreneur.com. Minor edits have been done by the Entrepreneur.com.ph editor.