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15 Hobby Ideas for Retired Nurses

Gayle Morris, BSN, MSN
Updated March 7, 2023
    Retirement should not be boring or lonely. Consider these hobbies to keep your mind and body active, expand your social network, and allow you to have an impact on others.
    Credit: kali9 / Getty Images
    • Hobbies during retirement can give you a sense of purpose, improve your mental and physical health, and help you stay sharp.
    • After retirement, nurses should consider developing a hobby within the healthcare field, like blogging or mentoring new graduate nurses. Or they can work part time as a consultant, first-aid instructor, or high school teacher.
    • Retired nurses may also enjoy a long list of activities outside the healthcare field where they can expand their social network and reduce the risk of getting lonely or bored.

    Functional medicine health consultant, Dana Gallik, FNP-C, CFMP, compares the human brain to Newton’s laws of motion. During your working years, your brain is constantly stimulated but during retirement, this stimulus is gone. This might allow your brain to rest a little bit more than you want.

    Hobbies can give you a sense of purpose, improve your mental and physical health, and keep your mind active. Let’s explore the benefits of having a hobby, especially during retirement, and 15 hobby ideas for retired nurses recommended by our contributors.

    The Benefits of Hobbies for Retired Nurses

    Clara Sutton is the human resources manager of Healthier Trajectory. She believes there are many reasons retired nurses should take up a hobby. While staying mentally and physically healthy is a primary concern, hobbies can also help you stay connected to the nursing community.

    One of the most common reasons a person becomes a nurse is their desire to help others and have a direct and measurable impact on people’s lives. Athena Kan is the CEO and cofounder of Dreambound and a former researcher at the Johns Hopkins School of Public Health. She reminds us that hobbies are an opportunity to continue to help people, give back, and stay sharp.

    Nurses can also use their hobbies to keep up with new developments in the healthcare field and maintain a sense of identity when their hobby aligns with their passion and purpose.

    15 Hobby Ideas for Retired Nurses

    If you’re exploring things to do as a retired nurse, consider the following 15 ideas as a starting point. The number of hobbies you could explore is only limited by your imagination.

    1. 1

      Blogging and Writing

      Blogging is a wonderful way of communicating with other nurses around the world. You might find an audience by talking humorously about the profession or by sharing your wisdom. Who knows? You may even become a nurse influencer.

    2. 2


      Smartphones and digital cameras make it easier to take up photography as a hobby. You can create a portfolio on social media and upload your photos to free sites so your images are used and shared around the world. Several free apps can help with filtering and editing.

    3. 3


      Gardening is rewarding in many ways. Spending time outdoors can help boost your mood and calm your mind. Depending on whether you choose to garden with transplants or seeds, you could see immediate improvements to your space or create anticipation for a harvest.

      You don’t need a large yard to garden; you can use containers, pots, or grow towers too.

    4. 4


      There are several places where you can spend your time volunteering and helping out those in need. Think about volunteering at an area animal shelter where you can show a little love to some dogs and cats, baking for a local nursing home, or volunteering with your local religious group.

    5. 5


      Consider being a mentor for a child or college student who would benefit from your years of experience. Your local hospital may be interested in starting a mentorship program with retired nurses for new grads. You have experience and a unique perspective that you can pass down to the next generation.

    6. 6


      There is a current shortage of nurse educators. Kan suggests considering a teaching role for nursing assistants, licensed practical/vocational nurses, and registered nurses.

      Many programs have part-time roles where retired nurses can pass on their experience and find fulfillment while mentoring the next generation of healthcare professionals.

    7. 7

      Learning a New Language

      Gallik suggests learning a new language and tells the story of a 100-year-old man she met who was learning his seventh language.

      “I often noticed him wearing headphones. I was shocked to learn that it wasn’t music that he was listening to, but a language learning program,” she says. “He responded to the look on my face … pointed to his temple and said ‘If ya don’t use it, ya lose it.’”

      The idea is that learning something new can help keep your brain active.

    8. 8

      Taking an Art Class

      Making art is a creative process that helps lower stress, promotes self-confidence, and enhances your dexterity. There are lots of different styles of art that you can explore. Painting, sculpture, and ceramics are just a few. Consider taking an art class and establishing a wider social network.

    9. 9


      We all have to eat, but you may not have had the time to explore new methods of cooking while you were working full time. Cooking is a relaxing and productive hobby that you can share with others. Cooking classes can help you learn new techniques and open up your social network.

    10. 10

      Playing Board Games

      Board games have been around for thousands of years and many cities have clubs where people gather to play backgammon, mancala, and chess.

    11. 11

      Jewelry Making

      If you love crafting and handmade jewelry, you may want to consider making jewelry. Do-it-yourself crafting offers you the opportunity to network with others who enjoy the same thing. You might even decide to sell what you make.

    12. 12

      Learning to Play an Instrument

      Put away your headphones. It’s time to learn how to play an instrument. Learning to play an instrument engages your brain in a way that no other puzzle or hobby can. It can be challenging, but it’s also rewarding and the end result can be beautiful music.

    13. 13

      Exercising With Others

      Exercise is foundational to good health but sometimes doing it on your own is tiresome and boring.

      Look for a club in your area that will keep you motivated. Whatever you like to do, there’s likely a group of people who get together every week to do it.

    14. 14

      Joining/Starting a Book club

      Reading and discussing what you’ve read is a great way to build a social network and keep your brain active. There are many types of book clubs that meet online or in person. If you don’t find one that speaks to you, you can start your own. Whether you enjoy reading fiction, nonfiction, romance, or sci-fi, there’s likely something for you.

    15. 15

      Working a Part-time Job

      Just because you’re retired, doesn’t mean you can’t have a job to fill your hours during retirement and pad your bank account. Freelance health writer, first-aid instructor, high school teacher, and consultant are just some of the positions where a retired nurse could make a big impact.

    Preparing for Retirement?

    The earlier you start planning for retirement, the more you can save and invest so you have the money in your retirement years to enjoy your hobbies. Seek professional help from a financial advisor. Review and, if needed, adjust your plan every couple of years.

    As you approach retirement, it’s also important to prepare for the free time you’ll have each day. Most people go from working full time to retiring which can be too drastic of a change.

    Think about moving to part-time status for 2-3 years so you’re able to fill the extra hours and can move seamlessly into full-time retirement. However you decide to prepare for your retirement years, they are inevitable. But, they don’t have to be boring, lonely, or frustrating.

    Consider the types of hobbies that interest you and learn more about them so you are ready to engage your body and brain when you’ve reached your last day of work at your full-time job.

    Meet Our Contributors

    Portrait of Dana Gallik, FNP-C, CFMP

    Dana Gallik, FNP-C, CFMP

    Dana Gallik is a functional medicine nurse practitioner. She owns two functional medicine businesses that help people overcome their health struggles and optimize their health by understanding the ways their body is trying to communicate with them.

    Portrait of Clara Sutton

    Clara Sutton

    Clara Sutton worked as a nurse in the early stages of her career before making the switch to human resources. She is currently the HR manager at Healthier Trajectory, where she still uses some of her nursing skills, such as running the weekly health workshop.

    Portrait of Athena Kan

    Athena Kan

    Athena Kan is the cofounder and CEO of Dreambound. Dreambound is a way for students to find healthcare training programs — from CNA to RN— and get help paying for classes. Kan graduated from Harvard University and worked at Johns Hopkins University researching minority health and health disparities.