Being in the military can be tremendously stressful.
Even if you are not deployed to a foreign country or see combat, the discipline that is required and the structured manner of interaction among ranks can take their toll on the psyche.
Without an outlet from that incessant pressure, the psyche can suffer. This is why it is so important for our men and women in uniform to have a hobby. But what hobbies would be best for those in uniform?
What Hobbies Are Best for Army Personnel?
It may be difficult to pin down exactly which hobbies are ideal for those with a career path that involves the armed forces, but there is a very clear theme that runs through the recommended hobbies for military personnel.
These themes involve a dedication to the task at hand and an absolute eye for detail. There are also those hobbies that take one out of doors and harness and refine the skills that the military has taught, such as hunting and shooting.
But above all, the hobbies that should be chosen by those in the army, navy, or special services are those that require and reward discipline.
There is no reason that a hobby that frees one from the structures of army life cannot, at the same time, hone the mental and physical skills that are key to a career in the military.
It almost goes without saying that hunting would be one of the best hobbies for those who are spending time in uniform. It utilizes the skills that they have obtained in the military – and hones them to a fine edge.
Hunting is also a way to destress. But for those who might find the idea of hunting animals distressing there are other sports that will make use of the training that the military provides.
For instance, there is skeet shooting. It may not feature live prey, but it will refine those hand-eye coordination skills that are so important in the military of the modern age. Bow shooting ( at targets) can also refine the skills obtained in the military.
The key point is to destress. To wind down those nerves that might require constant attention while on duty.
Fishing may seem like a sedentary pursuit. Of course, unless you are hand fishing for catfish in the southern states of the U.S., that is probably true to say (and that’s a fabulous way to blow off some steam if you are in the area).
But fishing with a rod and reel has some immense benefits for those who may find blowing off some steam or simply zoning out, far and away from the rigidity of the military.
For instance, the choices that you are required to make while fishing are not life or death – they simply influence your ability to catch fish. The right bait or lure or the repetitive motions of fly fishing can soothe the soul.
It is a case of absolute focus on the job at hand. It requires focus – and leaves no room for other thought. It can be a boon for the psyche.
This may seem counter-intuitive. But gardening is probably among the top hobbies for those who are employed in the military.
For outsiders who see the military as guardians with guns, the idea that a hobby that prioritizes the nurture of living organisms may seem slightly odd. But if one examines the idea closely it is not so outlandish.
The modern military person is no longer just a grunt – or an ambulatory finger on the trigger. Those recruits – and seasoned professionals – are today under enormous pressure to not only pull the trigger but to adhere to the most stringent of rules regarding the safety of civilians.
And that scrutiny becomes more and more focused as the years go by. Gardening requires no supervision. It is one of the ultimate “my time” experiences.
Of course, friends and those nearest and dearest can take part. But planting a seed and watching it mature into a fully grown specimen is, at its roots (pun intended), a solitary endeavor.
It does require focus to bring either flowering plants or vegetable crops to maturity. There is a myriad of factors to consider. Soil type and composition, plant type and sunlight required, time and season of planting – and much else.
But at its heart, gardening is a creative process, and watching things grow and live is the antithesis of the coon view of military life.
Of course, there is also the added advantage of the pride that comes from planting and harvesting edible items to the table and the psychological benefits of seeing the smile of those who will tuck into a delicious (and nutritious) homegrown crop.
4. Model Building
This may seem like boredom for some, but the sheer number of models that are available today means that there is something for everyone. The models range from historical battleships to classic airliners – and everything in between.
Why on earth would that be such a wonderful hobby for those in the military. Obviously, the number of different military models that are available each and every day would be an attraction for those who call the army, navy, or special forces home.
It is also perfect for those with an eye for detail. But it is that meticulous eye for detail, the steady hands, and the discipline involved in model building that is the attraction for most in the military.
However, it is also important to realize that model building is one of those hobbies that is multifaceted. There are model kits for all interests – and ones that are suitable for the beginner – and those that are so intricate that it would take months to complete.
There are even kits available from manufacturers like Lego that boast mechanical parts or are suitable for lovers of the silver screen (Star Wars Millennium Falcon anyone?).
The point is that model building requires a fine eye for detail and, in many instances, the ability to follow meticulous instructions. That can hone the mental skills that are so important to anyone who would like to progress in the modern military machine.
It is also a hobby that requires dedication to the task – and that is something that anyone with a modern military upbringing will appreciate as a vital part of the ingredients for success.
Hobbies to Avoid for Those in the Army
Army life is full of stress. It is also a career that, on the face of it, rewards those that will go the extra mile when it comes to both saving lives and taking them.
The point of a hobby is to escape the confines of everyday life. Asking a U.S. Marine to take part in an airsoft tournament week after week may seem to be a good idea – but it is not contributing to a more rounded individual, something that the military today requires.
The idea of social hobbies is attractive – but sometimes those who are used to being forced together with others need some “me” time. A time to think and reflect, free from defined structures of interaction.
A hobby is great for everyone.
To step outside our daily confines, be they within a corporate environment or within the military structure with its rigid reporting requirements, is something good.
In today’s “just in time” environment, a hobby is not just a “nice to have” – it may very well be the key to robust mental health.