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Walla Walla, WA
Friday, December 8, 2023

Hobbies and Happiness

November 16, 2023
Judy Lorenz

Leisure Activities Can Help Decrease the Effects of Stress.

Judy Lorenz

Let’s say you have two free hours between classes. What are you doing to de-stress during that time? Some may choose to work out, others may call friends or family, and you might decide to read a book. Unfortunately, most of us would spend that time on our phones, unable to stop scrolling.  

A study conducted in 2016 among college students ages 18 to 25 found a positive correlation between smartphone overuse and stress level. [1] 

As students, we are exposed to enough stress just from classes alone. According to “Metabolism: Clinical and Experimental,” “stress contributes—to a variable degree—to the pathogenesis, precipitation, exacerbation, or prolongation of the illness or condition in question.” [2] 

How are we supposed to ever relax if we can never escape stress? 

A study of the residents of Cairns, Australia, found that leisure activities helped to diminish the illness effects of stressful life events.

Hobbies.Figure. The positive correlation between life event distress and illness symptoms between residents with and without hobbies.

As seen in Figure 1, residents without hobbies (the open shapes) experienced much higher illness symptoms corresponding to life event distress than those with hobbies (the solid shapes). [3] 

So hobbies help mitigate the effects of stress, but how do we find these hobbies?  

A couple weeks ago, I had the horrible realization that I have no hobbies. I am so focused on classes and work that the only time I take to relax is either to sleep or to scroll on my phone. I’ve been on a hobby hunt. I am searching for a reason to stop studying, a reason to have fun.  

For those of you on similar journeys, you may have encountered my problem: I can never find the perfect activity. I’ve been recommended rock climbing, longboarding, cycling, painting, writing, cooking, and many more. I haven’t devoted my time to any hobby because I was always afraid that it wouldn’t be a perfect fit for my life. But I haven’t realized until recently that hobbies don’t need to be perfect, they just need to take your mind off of your stressors for a little while.  

Hobbies include anything that helps your mind to relax. Jason Sevick, a senior aviation management major, raved about his love of dirt biking. “If I’m not flying or in school, I’m always thinking about the next time going to dirt bike,” he said. [4] 

Laura Luke, a sophomore dental hygiene major, prefers less adrenaline-inducing hobbies such as drawing, crocheting, and reading. “I think hobbies are a fun and useful thing to do to fill your time,” she said. [5] 

As finals approach and the stress starts to build up, find a reason to stop studying. Try a relaxing hobby that doesn’t include your phone. Allow yourself the chance to de-stress.  



  1. Cain, J. (2018). It’s Time to Confront Student Mental Health Issues Associated with Smartphones and Social Media. American Journal of Pharmaceutical Education, 82(7), 6862. 
  2. VanItallie, T. B. (2002). Stress: A risk factor for serious illness. Metabolism, 51(6 Suppl 1), 40–45. doi:10.1053/meta.2002.33191 
  3. Caltabiano, M. L. (1995). Main and Stress-Moderating Health Benefits of Leisure. Loisir et Société / Society and Leisure, 18(1), 33–51. 
  4. Interview with Jason Sevick, 11/10/23. 
  5. Interview with Laura Luke, 11/10/23.  



  1. Hobbies.Cover. Photo taken by Craig Adderley from Pexels. 
  2. Hobbies.Figure. The positive correlation between life event distress and illness symptoms between residents with and without hobbies. Taken from Caltabiano, 1995.  
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