November 2022

In this VETgirl online veterinary continuing education blog, Amy Johnson, RLATG, LVT, CVJ, Manager of Content Development at VETgirl, focuses on what hobbies she has to be grateful for outside of veterinary medicine and how it makes her a more content person within veterinary medicine.

Why you need a hobby outside of veterinary medicine

As I sat down to start writing this blog, my plan was to focus on what I have to be thankful for outside of veterinary medicine. But then realized that everything on my list really makes me a better, more content person within veterinary medicine. I have long been a proponent that we all need hobbies, hobbies that are not related to what we do day in, and day out. We need an escape, something to focus on that completely takes us out of the world of work where we already spend so much of our time.

Mental and physical wellness are such big topics in veterinary medicine right now and essential ones. Everyone needs a way to unplug and walk away from work whether it be at the end of the day, before your day starts, or on your days off. We all need to find something that we enjoy that becomes our escape, our sanity, but also challenges us enough to keep going back.

A pillow that says grateful with a carin and sunset behind it.

Before we get into this conversation further, it is important to mention that hobbies don’t have to be expensive, greatly time-consuming, or take you away from home. I think this is an important note as I can see many of you reading this thinking, “I have no time in my day for sleep let alone a hobby.”

A hobby is defined by the Merriam-Webster dictionary as “a pursuit outside one’s regular occupation engaged in especially for relaxation.” This could be something as simple as sitting down and escaping reality in a book for 30 minutes before bed or taking a run in the morning before your shift. Reading and running are self-care and hobbies that take you out of your reality of day-to-day as long as you enjoy them.

To understand my hobbies, you need to understand that I am a person who doesn’t sit still very well – so I have several. Here is what I have to be grateful for:

My Camera
My absolute love and hobby #1 is photography. I love spending time outdoors (see hobby #2) and like all others in veterinary medicine, I love animals. So, it makes sense that wildlife and landscape photography has become my passion. There is nothing that makes me happier than to be graced by the presence of an animal and sit with them for hours at a time. Sometimes that is in the middle of nowhere with an elk, moose, fox, or something as small as a chipmunk. Other times it is at the zoo, local wild animal sanctuary, or even on my deck at home. I also love any picturesque scenery, sunrise/sunset, flowers, and snowflakes. I will get in my car at god-awful hours in the morning to go out in search of animals or an amazing Rocky Mountain sunrise or grab my camera and set out on foot as the sun is getting ready to set.

A large bull moose in a mounatin lake shaking water off

Photography can be an expensive hobby to get into BUT doesn’t have to be. Most professional photographers do have a lot of really expensive equipment, but with a passion, a good eye, and a cell phone, you can do amazing things. I have always loved photography, but until 4 years ago, I did everything with my phone. I now have slowly invested in professional equipment, but some of my favorite photos are still ones taken with my phone.

The Trails
Hobby #2 is also my physical activity. I love being outdoors and am an avid hiker. I have tried every exercise out there and never found anything I enjoyed enough to stick to, hiking has been the one to finally “stick”. I have always been re-charged outdoors and hiking used to be something my mom and I enjoyed doing together. When she got the diagnosis of pancreatic cancer, hiking became my outlet for grief. I would go out on my favorite neighborhood trail and just let the emotion out. It truly was what kept me sane. But when I lost her my grief consumed me and I stopped hiking. It took being cooped up from the pandemic to get me back out there again.

I feel most at ease when I am out on a trail and although I don’t encourage this for everyone, a lot of my hiking is done alone. I enjoy the quiet reflection time but having a hiking partner to bounce things off of or vent to can be very beneficial as well. Adding a buddy can make it more fun as well. The most fun I have ever had on a hike was done with a 4am start in several feet of snow and blustery winds, with micro-spikes for the ice, a purple light-up tutu, and a friend with a great sense of adventure! This is definitely not everyone’s idea of self-care but it is mine.

Two female hikers posing in front of a snowy frozen alpine lake

I am lucky to live in the incredible state of Colorado and I have spent the last few years exploring some of the best views the state has to offer (with my camera of course). I have done the 52 Hike Challenge the last 4 years, climbed 3 of the state’s 14ers, tackled the famous Manitou Incline multiple times, and seen the best Colorado (and several other states) has to offer. The challenge of some of these trails is exhilarating, but anytime you get outside for a walk is considered a hike in my book.

A female hiker standing on a mountain looking at the sunrise
I live for the days when I will get in my car at 2 am and drive 2 hours to get to the trailhead for a 4am start.

Bath & Body Products
Hobby #3 is something I can do on the days when I am stuck inside (usually due to bad weather). It all started when I was sitting on my couch, bored (probably wishing I was outside). The thought “I wonder how hard it would be to make soap?” came into my mind when scrolling through crafts on social media. I emerged from the rabbit hole of Pinterest and YouTube hours later with the motivation to make not only soap but body butter, bath salt, and sugar scrub. If I go in, I go all in! It started as something I did as gifts for family and friends but has grown into something I sell at farmers’ markets, craft fairs, and a couple of local gift shops, as well as doing custom orders – and it makes my house smell so good! The money I make with the sale of these products (and any photography I sell) is then get put back into funding all of my hobbies.

Close up Coconut butter bottle, for beauty care or healthy vegan food

These are what make me happy and help me relax and unplug. I know I am a better employee and team member because I have these outlets. I urge everyone to find what it is that makes you happy and use it as your escape whether it be gardening, painting, a sport, writing, music…

Tell us what hobbies make you a happier person.

  1. This is a great article and I love that you shared your hobbies. I always joke that there is an 80 year old woman living inside of me. My favorite hobby involves a Weave-it loom. A small square loom from the early 1900s that allows you to weave small squares from most types of yarn. When you have a mass of them you can crochet them together to make blankets. I usually do this while watching “Happily Ever After” movies on Hallmark. 😉 I love gifting my blankets with their customized patterns and color combos to friends and relatives.

  2. I love astronomy. Any time, any place. My most common observing location is my urban neighborhood- I do astronomy as I walk. It can be an expensive hobby but I mostly use my eyes, sometimes binoculars, and a green laser pointer to share what I see.

  3. I love hiking, camping, rock hounding, listening to music, snowshoeing, cooking and photography. On my days off I try to do at least 1 of these activities. I find I’m more at ease and happier in my work life when I make time to do the things I enjoy outside of work.

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