The Joy of Play: Hobbies for Stressed-Out Small Business Owners

You can’t beat the exhilaration of running a small business, but sometimes, it feels like you’re riding an emotional roller coaster. There’s nothing better than hitting your goals, but when you fall short, the stress can feel overwhelming.

But busy small business owners can’t afford the debilitating effects of stress, so it’s crucial to come up with ways to keep it at bay. Of course, there are many ways to fight stress—personally, I strongly recommend meditation. But you may already know the best solution for you—a hobby.

Yes, hobbies can be stress-busters, helping distract you from business woes and allowing you to unplug, unwind, and recharge.

If you’ve been neglecting a hobby or two you already have, that seems a logical place to start. But if you’re looking for something new, here are some ideas to consider:

Embracing the Quiet

As I mentioned, my de-stressor of choice is meditation. So, of course, it tops the list.

Meditation and mindfulness: Mindfulness practices like meditation and yoga can help you achieve inner peace and reduce stress. Spend some time every day to focus on your breath, clear your mind, and be present in the moment. The calming effects will take you through the day.

Book it: Reading is a great way to escape your daily worries and let your mind go. If you love books, your hobby can go beyond just reading. You could collect certain types of books or hunt for first editions.

However, this is not the time to catch up on business books.

Puzzle it out: Whether it’s Wordle, working on crossword or jigsaw puzzles, or tackling Sudoku, solving puzzles is a fun way to take your mind off work and help you focus on the moment.

Let’s Get Physical

Hit the trails: Surrounding yourself with nature can be very calming. Take up hiking and explore your city or town. (Make sure you’re physically capable first.) Harvard Health reports that spending just 20 minutes connecting with nature can help lower stress levels.

Get a move on: Physical activity is a natural stress reliever. Since you’re trying to develop an ongoing interest in a hobby, pick an activity you enjoy, not one you dread. If you’re unsure, explore a few, like dancing, biking, swimming, or jogging.

Exercise releases endorphins, those feel-good chemicals that elevate mood and combat stress.

Team time: Many cities have recreational sports leagues you can join, like softball or volleyball. Some organizations may sponsor bowling nights.

This type of hobby involves a lot of social interaction, which not only is a great way to de-stress but also an excellent way to meet people and build connections outside of work.

Creative Pursuits

Creativity manifests in various ways. Consider taking up:

Playing a musical instrument

Creative expression allows you to tap into your imagination and hopefully leave stress behind.

Hobbies can be anything you like devoting time to. They can be fun and frivolous. Or more serious. While not considered a hobby, you can spend some of your free time volunteering for a good cause. Helping others can help take your mind off your worries.

Some hobbies, like rescuing old furniture and flipping it into something useful, growing succulents, photography, or baking spectacular cakes, can not only be relaxing but can help you earn a few extra dollars.

Hobby or Business?

It’s okay to earn money from a hobby—as long as you report your earnings to the Internal Revenue Service (IRS). But make sure your hobby is actually a hobby and not a business. The IRS says the difference between a hobby and a business is that a business operates to make a profit and issued nine guidelines to help you determine if your extra earnings are a hobby or a business:

“Whether the activity is carried out in a businesslike manner and the taxpayer maintains complete and accurate books and records. 
Whether the time and effort the taxpayer puts into the activity shows that they intend to make it profitable.
 Whether they depend on income from the activity for their livelihood.
Whether any losses are due to circumstances beyond the taxpayer’s control or are normal for the startup phase of their type of business.
Whether they change methods of operation to improve profitability. 
Whether the taxpayer and their advisors have the knowledge needed to carry out the activity as a successful business. 
Whether the taxpayer was successful in making a profit in similar activities in the past. 
Whether the activity makes a profit in some years and how much profit it makes. 
Whether the taxpayers can expect to make a future profit from the appreciation of the assets used in the activity.”

If you’re concerned or considering turning your hobby into a business, talk to your accountant or attorney.

Once you decide to undertake a hobby, you must commit to it. Consider the time spent investing in your well-being.

You may have to try different things until you discover the ones that truly resonate with you and offer the escape and enjoyment you seek.

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This article, “The Joy of Play: Hobbies for Stressed-Out Small Business Owners” was first published on Small Business Trends