02/01/2016 12:00 EST | Updated 09/10/2016 02:56 EDT

Hobbies And Side Projects Can Transform Your Mindset

You may recall Google’s famous 20 % rule, where employees were encouraged to allocate at least 20 % of their time embarking on fun side projects to help boost work performance and facilitate a more productive 80 % towards their main job.

Faced with the challenges of day-to-day life — a spouse, children, managing finances — it might seem as though there is no time left to cultivate hobbies. But taking on a new hobby or side project can be an excellent way to mentally and physically recharge, try new things, gain experience and make new friends.

With this in mind, here are three reasons why hobbies and side projects matter:

Get happy: Engaging in a new pastime doesn’t have to be about creating something new. It can be all about directing your energy towards something that fosters passion and boosts self-worth and fulfillment. Indeed, studies have shown a causal link between activities for pleasure and cognitive ability. Whether it’s writing a blog, painting or learning a new musical instrument, it’s about doing something that’s just for you and engages different skills or practices than the ones you normally use at work. It makes you happy, creates a sense of dedication and reminds you that you aren’t defined by your 9-to-5 job.

Supercharge your creativity: A recent study reveals that a whopping 75 % of people think they are not living up to their creative potential. Remember the saying, “all work and no play makes Jack a dull boy”? Letting your mind focus on more creative pursuits — fishing, writing a novel or taking a photography course — increases levels of creative flow and are surefire ways to flex and exercise other parts of the brain not related to work. Remember, creativity is a powerful force. New hobbies or side projects can help relieve stress, encourage new ways of thinking, and can offer new perspectives when you get back into the office.

A sense of fulfillment: Think of your hobby as a labour of love. According to one expert, side projects should be stress-free. Think of them as tasks you can be proud of and help foster a stronger sense of fulfillment. They are things that you do because you really want to; they fuel your curiosity or desire to grow as an individual.

Bottom line: Work is important, but exploring ideas or tasks you’ve always wanted to do can be a stress-free starting point for improved mental and physical health while creating new opportunities for growth.

Best of all, they can help you feel more rested — offering you renewed focus and concentration for your main job or career.