Bringing passion back into your life could boost your
Physical and mental health
The last time you really embraced the happy chemicals and the flood of hormones that comes with letting yourself fall head over heels for someone, some place, some thing?
I’m not (necessarily) talking about a hot night of exhilarating sex, or the first flush of a new romance. It might be a love for a new sport or activity, a new found love of painting, a band or musician you’ve just discovered and can’t stop listening to. Maybe a place you’ve visited and fallen in love with.
It’s something many of us do quite naturally when we’re younger – swooning over boys in bands, dancing all night; taking off on spur-of-the-moment adventures to indulge a love of travel; spending sweaty nights and sleepy nights with new loves, or just spending hours with our head in a book that’s captured our hearts. But the passage of time often means pushing our passions to one side.
But why do we let these things slide? According to the New York Times, “A 2015 study published in The Annals of Behavioral Medicine found that pursuing your passion both lowers stress and contributes to greater happiness over all. Researchers found that participants who engaged in hobbies were 34 percent less stressed and 18 percent less sad during the activities, as well as for some time after.”
Right now, does your life feel filled with passion? Do you have sources of joy in your life, and ample time to enjoy them?
Do you have the time and the energy to enjoy beautiful views, to stop and smell the flowers, to do whatever it takes to get your happy chemicals flowing? Are you surrounded by people and places that ignite your pleasures?
Or does everything feel…flat? Maybe your bank balance is looking healthy, your house is impressive and you live in a nice neighborhood, but you barely get a chance to enjoy any of it because you spend most of your time stressing about work and childcare or the size of your thighs or the loss of your youthful complexion.
Maybe you have a job you enjoy, a house full of people that bring you happiness, but no time to enjoy the blessings because you’re too busy worrying about rent and slipping school grades and toddler (or teenage) tantrums and comparing yourself to other people’s perfect lives on the ‘gram.
It’s time to bring some passion back. And if you think that sounds like an exercise in self-indulgence, think again. Injecting some passion into your daily life can bring a whole lot of benefits to your physical and mental well-being – which in turn can make you a better parent, boost work performance, and generally make you a more confident, happier version of yourself.
Contrary to what social media might have us believe, most people aren’t ‘living their passion’ 24 hours a day. Bills have to be paid, mouths have to be fed, groceries need to be bought. Not all of us have jobs that make our hearts sing, and that’s fine.
But harnessing your passions in one way or another is more important than you might think. According to US care consortium Kaiser Permanente, “Research shows that when you engage in interests you enjoy, you’re more likely to have lower stress levels, a lower heart rate, and a better mood. You’re also more likely to engage in the world around you. That means less boredom — and less time to fixate on the stressors that cramped your style in the first place.”
If your passions are linked to physical exercise, whether that’s running, cross-fit, or – yes – sex, then it’s win:win. Physical exertion has been shown to have an enormous impact in boosting mental health, as well as physical health. Time in nature is a great mood booster, too. Research shows that spending time in the great outdoors rapidly reduces the stress hormone cortisol, boosts production of endorphins and dopamine – the ‘happy hormones’ – and even improves creative thinking.
Spending just a couple of hours in nature each week could relieve symptoms of depression, anxiety, tension headaches and irritability. So if you can find a way to combine your preferred form of exercise with being outdoors in nature, so much the better (less challenging for running and cycling than sex, admittedly, but where there’s a will there’s a way!)
If strenuous physical activity isn’t where your passions lie, no biggie. The magic happens when you take time out from the endless grind of things you ‘have to’ do, and carve some time for things you love to do. And find new things you never knew you loved.
I can tell you, from my own personal experience with dozens of clients that I worked with on boosting their passion levels and creating a better, more vital life style, that it also helped them with:
We get it, time is short. And social media would have us believe that all of us should be so passionate about what we do for work that we have no need to pursue our passions outside the workplace. I call BS on that – the pressure to be working in our dream job can be an unnecessary strain that can make people feel like a failure for working hard in a job that doesn’t set their heart on fire. Which, let’s face it, is most of us.
“Plus, it deprives us of the many benefits that come with engaging in outside activities and hobbies — for example, stress reduction, higher energy, and increased levels of creativity, all of which may boost work engagement and retention. One recent study even showed that people accrued greater benefits when their personal passions and their actual work were very different.”
In short, don’t panic if your work life doesn’t make your heart sing. But be sure to find your pleasures elsewhere. Stoke the fire of your passions – see it as essential self-care, not selfish self-indulgence.
Because if you bring fire back into your personal life, you may well be less likely to burn out elsewhere. So find that thing that moves you (it probably won’t be a Netflix box set) and go after it like a teenage girl on the scent of a K-Pop star.
Challenge yourself to add a dash of passion to your everyday – if you enjoy cooking, do it with flair – dedicate a day to it, host a fancy dinner party, bring it to life. If singing’s your thing, dare yourself to get up on stage – even if it’s just at karaoke. Got your eye on a hot single guy or girl? Let them know. Happily coupled up? Plan that hot night of forbidden pleasures. Find what you love, and do it regularly. It’s good for you, and those around you.
I want to see the most beautiful sunsets, taste the most delicious food, experience the ups and downs of sex and love and life; keep my sense of adventure and curiosity; and never settle for mundanity. And I want to help others reignite the spark in their own lives, too. To jump-start the passion project, you can check out my special planner and don’t forget to join me for coffee and sign up to my newsletter for juicy info on living life to the fullest:
It may not have the same impact as a stormy love affair, or a fierce adventure in the Mongolian outback, but It’s free, it’s mostly legal, and it’s wild.. >>