The difference between physical and creative hobbies and do you feel guilty or not-guilty?

Hi everyone, It’s March! Not that you would believe it here in the UK! How are you all holding up in the continuing crazy weather? I think there has been one day of sunshine since I last posted here!


A rare glimmer of sunshine and daffodils and tulips on my window from my lovely friend – trying to capture the spirit of spring! 

It has been a good opportunity to dig into creative projects though whilst hibernating, not least our very first Wow Wednesday #challenge;  Myself and Clair who run our local accountability group, Wow Wednesday put together some prompts for a week long challenge for our members to join in and anyone else too. It was an opportunity to get to know them more by asking some deeper questions, find out what motivates them in their work and to get them used to showing up more on Instagram, especially for those with fairly new accounts.

It’s been a fascinating week, so many great stories and really inspiring journeys – you can’t help but feel good and motivated reading them! I’ve been sharing the other members’ posts on my stories too so if you’d like to have a read, click here or simply search #wowwednesdaychallenge on Instagram to see the whole collection of posts.

We also had another Wow Meeting this week with 3 new members joining, and as we went around the table, it really struck home how many had ‘adding in some creative time’ on their list of goals to achieve by the next meeting.  Of course, this is music to my ears, but I pondered later about how much this has changed over just a few years.

Not so long ago it feels, spare time was taken up by more physical activities; gym membership, running, a myriad of weird and wonderful classes like boxercise, zumba, High Intensity Interval Training etc. Next came the more therapeutic forms of yoga, hot yoga, swinging in a hammock yoga, Pilates and even back to simple walking and ‘forest bathing’…now that’s more my kind of thing!

It got me thinking though about how sometimes spare time can become a battle between the physical hobbies and the creative ones. Our time these days is very limited; how do we choose and what is best for us in the small opportunities of time to ourselves we have? It’s tricky isn’t it?

I know in my own household, our family is quite split into 2 separate camps, my husband and daughter being very much the ‘sporty’ ones who crave and really need that physical outlet. He runs, plays tennis and football, she swims for a club 6 days a week, plays netball and runs at school – and if for any reason they don’t, boy do I notice the difference in their moods!

Likewise, obviously I have my creative projects and my son plays the drums and keyboard, sings his head off in the shower and goes to singing, musical theatre and acting classes, as well as enjoying creating art with me – and equally if those things are paused for us, I can see the difference, life’s just not quite as much fun and I feel a bit lost.


Fresh air – even better on the beach!

In an ideal world, according to the experts like Dr Rangan Chatterge, we need a healthy dose of both, but that’s not always possible, and whilst I do love my creative work, I also know that if it all gets too much, a walk in the woods is the best prescription for me, to just breathe in some fresh air and have a change of scene that’s ideally green; there’s a poem in there somewhere!

I wondered if doing these different types of pass-times gives us a different chemical rush to our brains? I tried to find some comparison research out there, but it doesn’t really exist, only separate articles about the benefits of each.

For example, says; ‘Endorphins are only one of many neurotransmitters released when you exercise. Physical activity also stimulates the release of dopamine, norepinephrine, and serotonin. These brain chemicals play an important part in regulating your mood.’

And according to, in terms of creative hobbies; ‘It’s not just being ‘in flow’ that helps your happiness. Repetitive creative motions like knitting, drawing, or writing help activate flow, and are all tasks that create a result. And when you succeed at creating a result, no matter what it is, your brain is flooded with dopamine, that feel-good chemical that actually helps motivate you. Whether or not you’re aware of your increased happiness, the hit of dopamine you get after being in flow will drive and influence you toward similar behaviour.’

The above makes sense to me and is perhaps why it’s on the lists of many of our Wow members to add in some creative time. Like-wise the exercise fans amongst us also go back for the same reason, but maybe that generates a quicker response of chemical-rush in the body and therefore may be more attractive to some – to get that ‘hit’ quicker, especially when people are lacking in time.


Some of our lovely WOW team who I asked for their thoughts this week

I also tapped into our member’s thoughts about all this and we had a really interesting conversation. I asked them to use one word to describe how they felt about it each activity; physical and creative, and if they HAD to choose, which one would they pick? It certainly got everyone talking and only a few could actually choose between the two (I’ve put a 1 next to their preference)! The results are below and then I’ll explain further after…

Physical Creative
Anna Awake Fulfilled
Clair Necessary Treat
Sue In my body and in the moment In the moment
Lucy 1     Sorted or Together Absorbing
Carrie 1     Positive, motivated and connected Calm and peaceful
Kelly Necessary Indulgent
Karen Necessary Luxury
Lynda Feel good afterwards Sense of satisfaction and achievement
Rachael Invigorated or calm, strong and grounded 1     Excited and fulfilled

Several things came out of this conversation that I found interesting:

  • Physical feels necessary, justified and important for health and doesn’t induce guilt when doing these activities, more the opposite if they don’t. It can take more effort to push ourselves to do it, but afterwards we feel better. Creative feels luxurious, a treat and some people do feel guilty spending time on these activities, less so the ones who do creative work.
  • Physical can satisfy both body and mind needs, releasing endorphins to feel good, they feel energised, cleansed and invigorated and like they are ‘winning at life’ and that it counteracts indulgences – maybe the view of physical exercise in Society and the status it is given, makes people feel like they need to exercise in order to feel successful in life?
  • Creative satisfies several mental needs but not overtly physical (although likely to be benefiting from dopamine release so could be beneficial physically too without being conscious of it). People report feeling ‘in the flow’, meaning they get lost in the task in hand and ‘mind chatter’ or ruminating thoughts disappear. I liken it to ‘active’ meditation. They feel calmer, relaxed and absorbed when taking part in the creative task.
  • The added bonus is that people are creating ‘something’, so there is also a sense of achievement at what they have produced. Although similar could be achieved physically I presume if taking part in a race for example, winning a match or the personal sense of achievement?
  • There is also a beneficial connection between the 2 types of hobbies in that if we feel stuck creatively, e.g. with an idea or writers block for example, going out for a walk or run and getting moving can generate movement also in our mind again, unblocking our thoughts and freeing up ideas, so getting physical can in turn help the creative process.
  • I also think how the two types are perceived depends on how naturally active you are during the day or whether you have any health issues that prevent you being active? I know that I could cope without a physical hobby but not a creative one, but that is because I’m normally quite active anyway, if I sat at a desk all day I may feel very differently.

Some other interesting insights;

Carrie picked physical because she felt it satisfied both her physical and mental needs, which is interesting as she is also a writer and therefore very creative whereas Rachael chose creative and that is her line of work as an artist and designer.

Kelly said if she had to choose, her head would choose physical, but her heart would choose creative.

Lucy definitely felt that by creating the time to exercise she was winning at life and felt more together in her head space, therefore that was her favoured choice.

Clair was conscious of the connection between exercise and ideas and also inspiration such as taking photos whilst out in the fresh-air. A run or walk is her go-to if she gets stuck in her creative work.

Sue was the one to first recognise the ‘guilt’ aspect, surprising herself that she’d feel more guilty indulging in a creative hobby than a physical one, this led to most of us feeling like this but unsure as to why!

Finally it was interesting that many of them found it too difficult to choose between the two types, proving how much we value our hobbies, and the time we choose to spend on them.

In the end I suppose it doesn’t really matter; however you make the most of your precious spare-time, so long as you enjoy it, that’s what matters, preferably without feeling guilty about it.

I think that this slightly guilty feeling is down to how creative hobbies used to be viewed; maybe a bit old-fashioned, uncool and too indulgent in family life with plenty of things on the ‘to do’ list but this has changed and is continuing to. Following advice around mental health, there’s a positive to slowing down the crazy pace we live at and what is scientifically recognised as good for your well-being.

You only have to look at the number of creative courses and books now on offer and the millions of creative Instagram accounts, challenges and Etsy shops to know that creative hobbies and businesses are increasing massively and it’s on an upwards trend.

Doing a combination of doing both physical and creative hobbies would be the optimum outcome making us in to more healthy, motivated, relaxed and happy humans! – we just have to carve out the time and prioritise – stop scrolling and watching everyone else living the dream and do it ourselves instead!

I’ve been busy painting this week, starting to prepare for Art Group’s exhibition at the end of March! he swirly one is Jake’s attempt at acrylic pour

Whilst I’m on my chemo journey, creative hobbies are pretty much all I can do and thank goodness I’ve got them in my armoury of distractions! However, once I’m over treatment my intention is to get back in the pool, I’ve never been fond of getting hot and sweaty  and prefer the rhythmic flow of being in the water, I find it really therapeutic and have always been a water baby.


Looking forward to diving back into the pool, just not maybe as accurately as my daughter!

I’ll also be back to my dog walks – I need to get this middle-aged body back to full-fitness as I can honestly say I’ve never felt as old or unfit in my life after chemo! Hopefully this double dose of physical and continued creative projects will get me back to peak health!

I’d be really interested if you notice a difference between the two types of hobbies too, for example how do you feel after each one, such as exercise may make you feel refreshed, a creative hobby more confident? Please comment below any thoughts on this.

I hope you’ve found this interesting, I know I certainly have, it’s been good to get deeper into understanding how people view and feel about creative hobbies, now I just need to work on how I can encourage people to feel less guilty about it all!

And my ultimate creative dream? To have a rainbow-coloured beach hut where I can write and paint and run creative retreats in – now if that doesn’t persuade people to spend time on a creative hobby…nothing would!

Until next time…

Juliet, The Curious Creative x

P.s For all those loving a creative hashtag challenge, don’t forget #marchmeetthemaker challenge by @joannehawker has just started! You can either join in the daily prompts or have a look at who is out there, so many take part now and it’s a great way to make new connections.




4 Comments on “The difference between physical and creative hobbies and do you feel guilty or not-guilty?

  1. Pingback: 100 lessons from the land of a Creative Blogger… on my 100th Blog post!

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