Hobby; window to a healthy mind.

2020 has been a harsh year. The ongoing pandemic has brought about so many changes in our lives which otherwise no one could have thought of. The world economies have been altered, businesses have shut down and lives have been lost. Amongst all this pandemonium surrounding the ongoing pandemic, lots of students had to bear the brunt too. Exams being postponed and some even being cancelled. Many have changed their patterns, while others were delayed by more than 2 months. All this can have a negative impact on the mental focus and readiness of the aspirant.

Exams are competitive, and especially in India where competition is cut-throat, the candidate can feel a lot of pressure upon him. Hence, it becomes equally, if not more, important to give mental health its due importance just like physical health. The lockdown and limited access to things and experiences which otherwise we took for granted, has made us realize the importance of human contact. While there is no shortcut to ending this, we can work around it to learn and grow ourselves, especially in the mental context.

The immense preparation that goes into preparing for a competitive examination in India takes even more importance given the extremely high stakes that the exam entails. Constant and consistent practise and determination is needed to be successful. But there comes a point where the mind starts playing games and one finally starts losing focus. One may start experiencing burnout. One of the many “symptoms” of this is not having the mental stamina to go through the same syllabus/curriculum over and over again since it has already been gone through multiple times. This is exactly the case right now, where most of the scheduled exams either had to be postponed repeatedly or there had to be made major changes in the exam structure. For a candidate to make changes to his/her preparation after toiling hard for such a long time, it can not only get frustrating but also due to the burnout, he may not be able to fully put his/her best effort. And eventually, when the exam date finally arrives, the aspirant is not at the best level. With all the expectations weighing on him/her already, the pressure is too high. Some thrive, but most fail. It can be a downward spiral beyond this point as the “bad” performance may show its effect on other exams too.

Yes, hard work is needed, determination and perseverance can’t be avoided, and consistency is and will always be the key, but it is equally important to slow down, take some time to breathe and give yourself a break. A large part of your personality are the hobbies and the thing you enjoy doing. Make time for them! They will freshen up your mind and give your mind the necessary rest that it needs and deserves. It is a marathon and not a sprint. Make sure you keep some time for yourself, for the things you like and enjoy doing. As MBA students, a substantial part of our interviews is connected directly or indirectly to our hobbies. There is a dedicated section for the hobbies in the CV too. So many students who have cleared the interviews of the best colleges in India and globally have mentioned examples of how they made time for their hobbies. Some people picked up new hobbies in their gap year and got so good at them that they participated in global tournaments! So yes, hobbies are not just a random activity that you do to pass time. They are a part of you and your personality and if they weren’t, everyone would have enjoyed your hobbies and vice versa. Not only mental tenacity, but hobbies build character. It shows in your personality and also your performance both personal and professional. They are a great way to work on improving your mental health. Additionally, various other avenues can be explored such as yoga or meditation. It does not have to be complex, it can be simply sitting quietly and humming your favourite song. The only pre-condition is that you should not have to make an “effort” to do it. You do it just because you genuinely enjoy it.

Coupling a great hobby with the hard work that you put in towards your preparation would bring about great results in you overall. It would add another facet to your personality, and you would get to know things about you which you otherwise would not have.

To sum it up, there is no substitute for hard work – plain and simple. But working hard without your full potential will not yield results that you want and deserve. To reach that full potential, it is important to give your brain and your body the due importance that they deserve. Picking up hobbies can be a great method for it. In the unprecedented times that we are currently experiencing, these hobbies will not only give us respite from all the negativity currently surrounding us but also help us learn, grow and shape our personality. Get up, try something new today, do something that you haven’t done. Challenge yourself – start simple, go big!

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