student life

3 Non-STEM Subjects to Explore

Want to avoid burnout? Indulging in hobbies outside of work is a proven method.

Looking for some nontechnical subjects to enjoy? Taking a break from work (or school) is a great way to wind down, practice self-care, and pep yourself back up for another round of finicky experiments. Of course, there are always STEM-themed options available for those looking to throw even more science into their everyday lives.

Creativity

Things like: dance, poetry, music, creative writing, photography, watercolors, cooking

STEM version: coding, Gustav Holst, STEAM combinations

Engage your inner child and find something to design. Your boss will appreciate your boosted productivity, and your brain will appreciate the protection as you age.

Basically any creative hobby will do (not just electives you can take on a campus). Baking bread? Yes. Quilting? Absolutely. Making your own YouTube videos? Yup. Of course, there’s not just the design aspect; art appreciation can check this box, too.

Possibilities: learn to play a musical instrument, or piece some words together into the highly structured sonnet form (I firmly believe that sonnets are basically sudoku for words.)

Fitness

Things like: sports, martial arts, weightlifting, hiking, kayaking, rock climbing, and yes, dance

STEM version: field work, tinkering with telescopes

And of course, here we can add eating well, drinking lots of water, and sleeping well and regularly. It will boost your mood, and you’ll be able to think more clearly.

Possibilities: Get in those 10,000 steps. Take some extreme HIIT workouts. Explore some scenic trails.

Critical Thinking

Things like: philosophy, literature, religion, journalism, foreign language

STEM version: science journalism, philosophy of science

STEM is great for developing critical thinking skills, but there are verbal, philosophical, and logical argumentation techniques that can be developed within the realm of humanities and communication.

In reading and writing, we engage in a grand exchange of ideas, from ancient philosophies to contemporary social issues. Literature teaches us to think both imaginatively and analytically.

Possibilities: I am very fond of the great books, and it’s one of my secret goals on this site to convince you to try them too. Reading them outside of the classroom may be just the trick needed to actually enjoy and appreciate them. We live in a diverse world – it’s very practical, as well as interesting, to expand your religious literacy, or try your hand at learning a new language.


Robert J. Oppenheimer learned Sanskrit and read ancient Hindu texts in their original language. Albert Einstein studied philosophy. James Clerk Maxwell wrote poetry. And a great many scientists of the pre-pictographic age were expert artists – Leonardo da Vinci, John James Audubon, and Andreas Vesalius all come to mind. These kinds of things aren’t just a mindless source of amusement – they help maintain my sanity in the midst of technical challenges.

  • What are your favorite: creative hobbies? athletic hobbies? critical thinking hobbies?
  • Do you see your work in lab as more of an art or a science?

3 comments

  1. Great post, thanks for sharing!

    I like to do home workouts to keep fit and stay (mentally) healthy! I find that joining a sports club – for me it’s badminton – also adds a social element to this as you can meet people outside your usual work or home environment.

    In terms of critical thinking development, I enjoy listening to podcasts which discuss a range of topical events/ideas…

    On the arts side, does leisurely reading/some light gaming/listening to music count? XD I occasionally sketch too but it’s been a while.

    What are your preferred non-study/work hobbies? πŸ™‚

    Liked by 1 person

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