Happy hobbying

Learn about some of the activities your peers do in their free time

Students often have to balance their academics, social lives and mental well-being amongst other variables, so it is important for them to find activities that allow them to take a step back. According to Head to Health, people that have hobbies are less likely to be affected by stress, low mood and depression. Students may use their scarce free time scrolling the universe of never-ending TikToks, watching a few mindless episodes of Family Guy or even reading the occasional book. No matter the form our stress relief manifests itself, a hobby’s ultimate goal is to provide a distraction from the palpable stress that consumes many of us.

Kellen Mathews, undeclared first-year, enjoys spending his free time playing rugby. Mathews recently discovered rugby at a student involvement fair on Trinity’s campus and decided to join the team. Mathews allocates about six to seven hours a week to rugby and said he enjoys the physical exercise that comes with the hobby as he was never allowed to play contact sports prior to entering college due to safety concerns from his mother.

“I play rugby for physical exercise, mostly, but I also like the socialization aspect,” Mathews said. “And I think doing other things outside of school helps you in school because you’re not devoting all your time and energy to school.”

Kien “Jimmy” Phan, junior international studies major and chemistry, biology and Spanish triple-minor, spends much of his free time playing the piano, a hobby he discovered when he was seven and has continued to pursue throughout his educational journey. Phan’s introduction to music and the piano came from his mother’s passion for the instrument.

“My mom really liked music so she wanted us to learn music,” Phan said. “She never really got the chance to learn piano but she always loved it so she put us in lessons.”

Today, Phan plays in a studio with Carolyn True, takes lessons weekly and is currently working on a project with music from the African diaspora. Phan’s favorite type of piano score is 20th-century contemporary music. When searching for a hobby, Phan looks for something he can improve in and eventually master.

“I think it’s a good stress reliever and something when you have a ton of hard classes, you can focus on something else and not have to do those classes,” Phan said. “I also think that being happier by doing things you love also leads to you being a more productive student.”

Valerie Arroyo, sophomore anthropology and international studies double-major, fills her free time scrapbooking. Arroyo seeks to allocate an hour a day to her hobby during the school year, and tries to take advantage of the free time she has during seasonal school breaks to focus more on her hobby. Overall, Arroyo finds scrapbooking is a great way to destress and provides a distraction from school work.

“I think a lot of the time we’re just worrying about school work,” Arroyo said. “And it’s good for your mental health to do something you like.”

Arroyo began scrapbooking in middle school and has continued to pursue the hobby ever since. Arroyo enjoys satisfying, stress-relieving activities like ASMR (autonomous sensory meridian response), and finds that activities that require little brain power are often the most stress-relieving.

“I think hobbies can help students in classes by giving us ways to take our mind off the stress of school by doing things that make us happy instead of being 24/7 focused on school which can cause burnout. I also think that being happier by doing things you love also leads to you being a more productive student,” Arroyo said.