Take a break, take up a hobby

In print
summer hiatus

Take a break, take up a hobby

3 minutes to Read
Doug Longmire with one of his super-sharp Japanese knives

We are on our summer break and the editorial office is closed until 17 January. In the meantime, please enjoy our Summer Hiatus series, an eclectic mix from our news and clinical archives and articles from The Conversation throughout the year

The question is not so much if you are tired, but whether you feel like you can get a mental break

Who has time for hobbies these days? With COVID-19 taking precedence in so many spheres of our lives, the temptation to flop defeatedly on the couch at night is often too difficult to resist.

Yet many pharmacists do manage to keep up outside interests, with some of these interests demanding much commitment and resources. Take weight-lifting strongman competitor Cliff Comins or wildlife ranger Bronwen Shepherd, for example.

Auckland psychotherapist Kyle MacDonald says, even if you don’t jump into anything physical after work, it’s important to be able to switch out of work mode. Too often, lying horizontal on the couch means your body rests but not your mind.

Also, he says, TV is not a great choice because often it doesn’t fully engage the brain.

You might need to disrupt your thought processes through the art of distraction.

If you’re time-poor, one of the best resources could be friends and family. “If your head is still in work mode, a different point of focus that isn’t work is needed,” Mr MacDonald says.

“It’s probably true of most professions but certainly health professionals, they are quite conscientious people who do the job because they love it.

“They are often also business owners which makes it hard to mentally step away from the job.”

So, if you want to rebalance your life and work, and you’re interested in taking up a hobby, first reflect back to when you were younger, or even a child, and try to remember what you used to enjoy and see if you can rediscover that, says Mr MacDonald.

But what if you’re so tired by day’s end all you feel like doing is collapsing?

“The question is not so much if you are tired, but whether you feel like you can get a mental break,” Mr MacDonald explains.

To get the ball rolling, we’ve hauled out past issues of Pharmacy Today to take a look at all those many different hobbies we’ve featured over the years.


One of the more unusual hobbies Pharmacy Today reporter Jonathan Chilton-Towle discovered was quidditch – muggle quidditch, that is, as played by Katie Adams of Westview Pharmacy in Auckland, and her team.

Back in 2019, she told him about how her love of Harry Potter translated into a love of the game – played on the ground, rather than in the air. But “broomsticks” are still mandatory.

Players must run while straddling PVC pipes, and trying to score goals.

There’s now even a New Zealand national quidditch team, the New Zealand Black Brooms.

Katie Adams on her broomstick
Japanese knives

Collecting sharp knives sounds like an odd hobby, but for Doug Longmire, it was a way of learning about Japanese culture through their use of knives in cooking. Japanese knives are long and thin, and are specifically designed for different purposes, from cutting vegetables to cutting sushi. Japanese chefs also use special knife-sharpening techniques that Mr Longmire, a locum pharmacist in Palmerston North at the time, found to be all part of the allure.


Back in 2018, Kasey Brown, former president of the Pacific Pharmacists’ Association, told us about her CrossFit training – gaining physical and mental strength through constantly varied functional movements performed at high intensity.

She also explained how it helps her “not crack under pressure in pharmacy when pushing out prescriptions, answering questions, gaining trust and doing the most amount of work in the shortest time”.

Kasey Brown goes vertical
Scuba diving

When Wainuiomata pharmacist Laura Dowd told us about her love of scuba diving in July last year, she was just about to hop on a plane to Melbourne to study for a PhD as well as continuing her passion for underwater exploring. Ms Dowd began scuba diving at 16, and would go diving with her family regularly. While courses are expensive, she says it’s just a whole different world under water.

Laura Dowd exploring under the sea

Breakdancing is known as “breaking” to the experts in the field, as performed by Bboys and Bgirls. Pharmacist Matt Sue, who worked at a Hamilton pharmacy, taught himself by watching YouTube videos, but having a background in martial arts really helped. When Pharmacy Today interviewed him back in 2017, he recalled his proudest moment – scoring in the top 16 in the Red Bull BC One competition.

A final note on hobbies, it’s never too late, or too uncool, to get out that model aeroplane you’ve been intending to put together for the past decade or two. And remember that course on tie-dying you were always intending to sign up for?

What have you got to lose?

Matt Sue “breaking” in front of Life Pharmacy

If you have an interesting hobby yourself that you’d like to share with us, please contact Ruth at editor@pharmacytoday.co.nz