- Charles Sturt research investigates the benefits of ‘serious leisure’ activities during lockdown
- Serious leisure activities relieve stress and enhance wellbeing
- Research placed specific focus on how bonsai growers used their hobby to cope during lockdown
Have you found yourself trying new and unusual hobbies during one of Australia’s many lockdowns?
A Charles Sturt University Lecturer in the School of Information and Communication Studies in Wagga Wagga Dr Yazdan Mansourian (pictured) has been working on a research project since 2017 that has strong relevance to the past 18 months.
The project, titled ‘Human information behaviour in the context of serious leisure’, explores the positive sides of serious leisure, such as the pleasure of information seeking during leisure time and the rewarding feeling of information sharing.
“During the past 40 years or so, information science scholars mainly focused on the problematic aspects of human information behaviour,” Dr Mansourian said.
“We have numerous publications about topics like information overload, information anxiety, information poverty, digital divide, etc.”
In 2017, Dr Mansourian came across a paper exploring the positive sides of this process.
After reading the paper, he changed his research direction to explore the positive and pleasurable facets of human information behaviour that lead to more meaningful purposes.
Dr Mansourian said ‘serious leisure’ is when people passionately engage in a meaningful hobby or voluntary activity for the long-term.
These activities are engaged in for enjoyment, not monetary gain.
Dr Mansourian said those who engage in serious leisure do so to alleviate stress, especially in hard times such as a COVID-19 lockdown.
“In addition, social benefits of serious leisure are more important during this challenging time,” he said.
“People from different parts of the world can create ‘virtual hubs’ or communities of interest around their hobbies.”
Dr Mansourian’s research shows that serious leisure can enhance cognitive, emotional and social wellbeing.
He expanded on his research during the pandemic by focusing on how bonsai growers used their serious leisure activity to manage stress and uncertainty during lockdown.
The result shows serious leisure activities, in this case bonsai growing, can be joyful, rewarding and stress-relieving and engaging in the hobby helps hobbyists find new sources of purpose and passion during the lockdown.
Findings revealed that bonsai growing helped people deal with challenging times and allowed them to share lived experiences via social media.
“During the pandemic, when people can’t meet in person, they use digital platforms to stay connected and share hobby-related information,” Dr Mansourian said.
Dr Mansourian will continue this research by investigating how bonsai growing can be a source for personal and social wellbeing.