Should you get a hobby? This is an important question you should ask yourself before you jump into hobbies. Hobbies have many pros and cons that can impact your life positively or negatively.
I have already explored the advantages of hobbies in detail in my article on Why Hobbies Are Important, but I will quickly go through the main benefits. Hobbies come with many advantages, for example, they can help you to:
- Relax and reduce stress.
- Socialize and have fun with friends.
- Learn enjoyable and useful skills.
- Become more productive (see Hobbies That Can Make You Insanely Productive).
- Make a decent side income or even a full-time living doing things you enjoy.
- Enhance your career in various ways (see The Best Hobbies for a Resume).
- Become more knowledgeable and creative.
- Fill up your free time.
These benefits can transform your life in many amazing ways. So, you should definitely get a hobby.
With that said, hobbies also come with negative effects that can be quite harmful if you are not careful. People tend to focus more on the benefits of hobbies, but you need a complete picture of the pros and cons.
In this article, I will focus mainly on the disadvantages of hobbies so that you can have an idea of some of the negative effects of hobbies and how you can protect yourself against them. For the advantages of hobbies, you can check out my article on Why Hobbies Are Important.
Here are the main disadvantages of hobbies.
1. Hobbies can make you neglect important responsibilities
Some hobbies can be too engrossing or demanding that they leave no room for anything else. With such a hobby, you may easily neglect crucial responsibilities in your life.
You can tell if you are neglecting important responsibilities because of a hobby if:
- You have no time for your spouse or kids. They complain that they never see you, or you are distracted even when you are around.
- You are spending money meant for the family (such as grocery money) on your hobbies.
- You don’t take care of your personal hygiene, and your house is messy.
What to do if hobbies are causing you to neglect your responsibilities
If you feel like you are neglecting your responsibilities, here are things you can do:
- Put your priorities first. Figure out the most important priorities in your life and put them first.
- Budget time and money. Allocate a certain amount of time and money to your hobby, and don’t exceed what you have allocated.
- Quit demanding hobbies. If a hobby takes too much of your time and money, you should quit it and replace it with a hobby you can manage.
Further reading: How To Find Time For Your Hobbies
2. Hobbies can distract you from important goals in life
Hobbies can occupy so much of your time that you don’t feel the urge to concentrate on activities that can help you succeed in life. For example, if you play video games or watch TV the whole day, you will not have time to look for a job, go on dates, or work on your studies.
Here is how you can tell if your hobbies distract you from important things in your life.
- You feel like you are falling behind in life. For example, you are still living with your parents at an age when you should have a job and a place of your own.
- You have too much time on your hands. You quickly get bored if you are not engaging in your hobby.
- You can’t sustain a worthwhile activity for long. You either procrastinate or give up quickly.
What to do if you think hobbies are distracting you from important goals
If you feel like hobbies are distracting you from important goals in life, you should:
- Set challenging goals. If you have no meaningful goals you are trying to achieve, you will try to fill all that extra time with something to avoid getting bored. To fix this, choose a goal that will inspire you.
- Align your hobbies to your goals. You should look for hobbies that will help you meet your goals. For example, if you want to advance your career, you can pick up productive hobbies or career-boosting hobbies.
- Seek out people with similar goals. If you hang out with people pursuing similar goals, it will rub on you, and you will soon have many other useful activities to occupy your time.
3. Hobbies can lead to financial distress
According to a survey by Lending Tree in 2021, 53% of Americans went into debt to start a hobby during the pandemic. Of those that took debt, 24% had debts of more than $1,000.
Why do people go into debt to start hobbies? The reason is most people cannot afford their hobbies. Hobbies can be quite expensive, for example:
- You need to buy equipment and supplies. These can cost anywhere from a couple of hundred dollars to thousands of dollars.
- You need a place to store your equipment and supplies. If you don’t have space in your house, you need to pay for storage.
- You may need to travel to other areas to engage in your hobby. For example, if you enjoy nature, you may have to travel to a national park.
How to avoid getting into debt because of hobbies
Getting into financial distress because of hobbies is not smart. Instead of getting into debt, you can:
- Go for cheap hobbies. There are plenty of hobbies that are either free or cheap for example, reading, walking, calisthenics, or sketching. These can still be fulfilling and engaging if you take the time to do them well.
- Cut costs. Look for ways to cut costs for example, by borrowing your friends’ equipment or buying second-hand equipment on eBay or Craigslist. When you start a hobby, it would be unwise to invest too much money into it unless you are sure that you will stick with it long term.
- Turn your hobby into a side hustle. You can turn most hobbies into side hustles. For example, you can start a food blog if you like cooking. There are many examples of bloggers that have created million-dollar blogs from their passions (see The Highest-Earning Bloggers). Also, check out How to Start a Blog for a step-by-step guide to starting a blog.
4. Hobbies can be dangerous
Hobbies can lead to death or injuries that can change the entire trajectory of your life.
Even hobbies that we think are relatively safe are not as safe as we think. For example, hospitals in England recorded thousands of admissions due to hobbies during lockdown. Most injuries resulted from DIY tools, falling from playgrounds, burns from cooking, and bites from pets.
Of course, some hobbies are more dangerous than others and if you participate in such hobbies, your risk of injury, death, or being maimed for life greatly increases. Here are a few examples of dangerous hobbies:
- Extreme adventure hobbies like bungee jumping, sky diving, bull riding, scuba diving, and BASE jumping
- Sports hobbies like football, rugby, and martial arts
- Hobbies involving tools, for example, metalwork, woodworking, and general DIY
- Hobbies involving motorized and non-motorized vehicles, for example, motorcycling, cycling, piloting, and car racing
What to do if you have a dangerous hobby
If you have a dangerous hobby, here is what you can do:
- Assess the risk. Before you start a dangerous hobby, ask yourself whether you can afford the medical bills if you get a life-threatening injury or are maimed for life. Make sure you know what you are getting into.
- Get insurance. Insurance can protect your loved ones from bankruptcy should you get a life-threatening injury. Note that if you have risky hobbies, some insurance companies may be reluctant to insure you, or they may do so at high premiums.
- Take precautions. For many of these dangerous hobbies, having the right knowledge and taking the proper precautions can help diminish some of the risks. For example, you can wear safety gear and learn to use tools properly.
5. Hobbies can lead to loss of cyberbullying and loss of privacy
Online hobbies like YouTube, social media, or blogging can lead to cyberbullying and loss of privacy.
When you put your opinions online, especially when dealing with political, religious, or culturally polarizing topics, grieved people may retaliate against you and your family.
Also, the internet does not forget. Something you said ten years ago can be used against you now. Governments and companies are increasingly monitoring social media content, and what you post can make you lose opportunities.
How to deal with cyberbullying and loss of privacy due to hobbies
Here are some ways you can deal with cyberbullying and loss of privacy.
- Use a pseudonym. If you deal with controversial topics, avoid using your real name. You can use a pseudonym and an AI-generated photo. If you are on YouTube, you can do faceless videos so that people cannot connect you to your content
- Avoid using your home address. Your home address reveals where you live. Unless you want random people turning up at your house, you need to get a separate address. There are many places where you can get affordable virtual addresses (check out Ipostal).
- Use a VPN. When you post online, you can get tracked through your IP address. This address is unique for your internet connection. You can use a VPN provider (such as Nord VPN) to change your IP address so that it will be difficult to track you.
6. Hobbies can be an unhealthy escape from facing problems
Hobbies are a great way to cope with stress and unpleasant circumstances in our lives. However, hobbies can also be a way to avoid dealing with problems that require solutions.
Here are a few examples of how this is possible:
- You can use socializing over drinks to avoid going home early because you have relationship issues with your spouse.
- You can use gaming or watching sports to get feelings of accomplishment that you lack in real life.
- You can use TV shows to live vicariously through the life of the characters in the story.
The danger of using hobbies to fill this void is that you don’t feel the urgency to sort out your problems.
What to do to avoid using hobbies as an escape
Here are some tips for avoiding using hobbies as an unhealthy escape.
- Determine if you are hiding from problems. Journaling and meditation are great ways to uncover habits you use as a crutch. For example, if you immerse yourself in fantasy books and movies, are there issues in your real life that you are trying to avoid?
- Set inspiring goals. The best antidote for escaping problems is to do things that will make you proud in real life. When you set challenging goals and work towards making them come true, you don’t have to use a hobby as a crutch.
- Substitute hobbies. You can substitute hobbies you use as a crutch with hobbies that can help you achieve your goals. For example, you can replace a consumption hobby (such as watching TV or gaming) with a production hobby (such as writing or coding). See Productive Hobbies for more.
7. Hobbies can lead to addictions
Hobbies can easily become addictions. Examples of hobbies that can turn into addictions include:
- Socializing. If you like socializing by having drinks with friends, you risk getting into alcohol addiction.
- Collecting. If you have a collecting hobby, you should be careful that it doesn’t turn into obsessive hoarding.
- Shopping. Shopping can be enjoyable, but when it goes out of control, you risk getting into debt and financial ruin.
Other hobbies that turn into addictions include gambling, healthy eating, working out, gaming, and social media use.
In some countries, addiction to hobbies like gaming and social media has gotten so bad that governments are stepping in to limit use, especially for kids.
How to prevent your hobbies from turning into addictions
Here is what you can do if you feel your hobby is becoming an addiction.
- Set limits. Limits can be in terms of time spent, items collected/bought, money spent, or amounts eaten. To determine these limits, first, find out your current baseline by tracking your activities for a week or two.
- Substitute the hobby. If it gets too difficult to control a hobby, consider giving it up entirely and replacing it with a productive hobby. For example, if you often socialize through drinks, you can socialize through dancing or hiking instead.
- Get professional help. Addictive behaviors are often symptoms of underlying issues, and you might need a professional to sort them out.
8. Hobbies can ruin relationships
Hobbies can drive a wedge between us and our loved ones. Our loved ones often bear the consequences of our bad decisions.
Here are examples of how hobbies can ruin relationships
- You get into debt to finance your hobbies at the expense of fulfilling responsibilities at home. This leads to marital problems at home.
- You get into culturally unacceptable hobbies that bring shame to you and your family.
- You get seriously hurt from engaging in a dangerous hobby and your family has to foot your medical bills and take care of you.
- Your hobbies lead to addictions (such as hoarding, gaming, and shopping) that strain relationships with your family and friends.
- You start keeping bad company and adopt bad habits because of a hobby you picked up.
What to do if you think hobbies are ruining your relationships
Here is what you can do if you think your hobbies could estrange you from your loved ones.
- Questions the hobby. Why are people against your hobby? Investigate whether your hobbies are having an impact on your family and friends.
- Prioritize relationships with important people. Your family and friends are the support you need to progress in life. Is it worth losing a close relationship to keep a hobby?
- Protect your loved ones. In whatever hobby you choose, ensure that you protect your loved ones from the negative effects of your hobby.
9. Hobbies can lead to stress and mental health issues
Hobbies are often enjoyable, fun, and relaxing. In some cases, however, they can lead to stress and anxiety.
Some of the things that can lead to stress and mental health issues in hobbies include:
- Trying to impress others. This is especially common in hobbies that involve social media where the approval or disapproval of others can lead to a roller coaster of emotions.
- Perfectionism. If you fear making mistakes in a hobby, it can be difficult, especially as a beginner, because you will make many mistakes.
- Overwhelm. If you have many hobbies that require a lot of time and effort, you may become overwhelmed and frustrated.
How to avoid mental health issues due to hobbies
Here is how you can deal with stress and mental issues in hobbies.
- Examine the root causes. If you are experiencing stress and anxiety, find out what about the hobby is making you unhappy. This will help you to come up with specific solutions to your problem.
- Take a break. It is okay to take a break from your hobbies until you start to feel like yourself again. Also, you need to set boundaries and limits to protect yourself against feeling overwhelmed or burnt out.
- Be gentle with yourself. Everyone makes mistakes, especially when they are starting out. It is through making mistakes that we learn and make progress.
- Don’t compare yourself. A lot of mental health issues come when you compare yourself with others. You have unique gifts that only you can bring to the table. Identify these and work on them.
10. Hobbies can lead to physical health issues
Hobbies can significantly impact your physical health both negatively and positively.
Here are some examples of how hobbies can negatively affect your physical health.
- Diseases. If you have a hobby like writing or coding, you can spend many hours in front of the computer. This can lead to diseases and ailments like obesity, diabetes, back pain, computer vision syndrome, and carpal tunnel syndrome.
- Untested diets and products. Following fad diets or using untested supplements/substances can have short-term or long-term effects on your body. For example, if you are into health and fitness, you are likely to encounter a variety of diets, supplements, and practices that have no scientific basis.
- Injuries. Injuries from adventure activities, sports, or hobbies that use tools can lead to disabilities that can change your life.
How to avoid the negative health effects of hobbies
Here are things to ensure you can engage in your hobby without the negative health effects
- Research your hobbies. Don’t jump on bandwagons without doing proper research. You can find good information on most topics.
- Take precautions. When engaging in a hobby, take the necessary precautions to prevent injury. For example, if you are exercising, use the correct form. If you are working with tools, wear the recommended protective equipment.
- Take up healthy hobbies. You can pick up new hobbies that are good for your health, for example, meditation, yoga, hiking, bird watching, walking, and healthy cooking. All these have shown, scientifically shown to improve your health.
11. Hobbies can be harmful to the environment
Some hobbies can harm the environment, for example, when you go camping and don’t extinguish your fire correctly, it can lead to forest fires that destroy property and kill wildlife.
Besides camping, hobbies like travel, collecting (in nature), fast fashion or overfishing can be detrimental.
However, of all the hobbies, pet hobbies can have some of the biggest impacts. Here are some examples of how pets affect the environment.
- Feral cats. Free-ranging cats kill 1.3 to 4.0 billion birds and 6.3 to 22.3 billion mammals annually in the United States.
- Invasive species. Exotic pets can become invasive species and wreak havoc on local biodiversity when released in the wild. For example, the Burmese python has led to the decline in several mammal species in the Everglades, Florida.
- Pet trade. Pet trade has led to the decline of several endangered species, such as the African Grey Parrot and the Radiated Tortoise from Madagascar.
How to protect the environment from hobbies
Here are some actions you can take to ensure that your hobbies don’t destroy the environment.
- Be responsible with pets. Don’t release pets into the wild. If you cannot handle your pet, take it to a local animal shelter or appropriate government organization. If you have a cat or dog at home, ensure it does not attack the local wildlife.
- Take up hobbies that are good for the environment. Some hobbies like beekeeping, organic gardening, upcycling, green energy, and volunteering can be great for the environment. They can also help you offset the impact of your other hobbies.
- Take precautions when around nature. For example, if you are traveling, don’t throw trash around. If you are camping, ensure that you properly extinguish your fire.
12. Hobbies can lead to illegal activities
Some hobby-related activities can be illegal and will land you in trouble with the law. Here are some examples of illegal hobby-related activities.
- Engaging in drunk driving or underage drinking.
- Piracy and illegal downloading of copyrighted materials like music, movies, and books.
- Hunting, trapping, or collecting threatened animal species.
- Using drones without a license (in some countries) or flying drones in restricted areas.
How to avoid illegal activities due to hobbies
Here are some tips to avoid getting into illegal activities due to hobbies.
- Know the law. Study what the law says about activities related to your hobby and the penalties for breaking the law.
- Take a course. If you take a formal hobby course, they often have sections on what the law says about particular activities. For example, drone flying instructors will often have information on restricted areas in your country.
- Talk to more experienced people. Experienced hobbyists, especially those that make an income from their hobbies, can be a goldmine for information on what not to do.
I hope you have gained some insights into some of the potential pitfalls of engaging in hobbies. Use the knowledge you have gained to make informed decisions that will enhance the quality of your hobbies.
Don’t let these disadvantages discourage you from pursuing hobbies. If you take the proper precautions, hobbies can transform your life in many amazing ways. Take time to find hobbies that will bring purpose, enjoyment, and variety into your life.
If you are struggling to find a suitable hobby, you can check out the following articles will help you out.
- Reasons Why You Have No Hobbies
- Best Strategies to Find a Hobby You Will Love.
- 135+ Hobbies That Are Great for Beginners.
- How Many Hobbies Should You Have?
- How to Make Time for Hobbies