As many people know by now, I'm a home brewer as well as a podcaster and writer. I haven't won any awards, and even though I'd like to sign up for a competition or two, I brew such small quantities of each batch that I'd rather just drink it.
But a curious thing happened to me last week: I brewed a batch of beer on a day off, got almost NOTHING else done, and I felt more relaxed than I had in quite some time. My previous brew day was spent worrying about process, the recipe I'd cobbled together last-minute, and all of the other minor things that stress me out when it's been several months between brews.
Hobbies are SUPPOSED to be relaxing. That's the point. A hobby that takes up as much energy and creates as much stress as a terrible job? That's not a hobby. Obviously, when you reach a certain level of passion for your hobby, you'll run into situations that will stress you out. That mint-condition, limited edition comic book you just ordered? Mail man dropped in the snow and accidentally stepped on it. Now it's creased and a little torn. The computer you built for gaming? The motherboard isn't talking to the hard drive for some reason, and the graphics card underperforms when you finally get everything else up and running.
But when those stressful moments are set aside, or conquered, a focused serenity fills enthusiasts to the point where, for a few minutes, they can forget everything that's been bothering them.
For me, brewing is a big deal. I love beer. I love the flavor, the process, the history, and the experimentation. I HATE overdoing it when it comes to consumption, which is why I brew beers under 5% ABV (most of the time). In fact, my sweet spot is between 3% and 4.5%. It's easy to have one or two of those in an evening and not lose the ability to function as a normal human being (give me ONE 12oz. pour of anything over 6% and I'm useful, but not productive). It's fun to try to figure out how, without the "draw" of alcohol, I can make those small beers interesting. And that always comes down to flavor, which, to make pleasing, takes a different skill than just piling in the alcohol.
Thinking about my next brew, planning it out, then getting the ingredients and going through a brew day, they're all relaxing to me. Especially when I'm the only one in the house. I can take my time, review my process, and just enjoy the aroma of boiling barley sugar and hops.
And cleaning. Lots and LOTS of cleaning (but that's a different blog post).
What are your hobbies? How do they help you relax?