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Last Updated on December 12, 2021 by Randy Withers, LCMHC
Did you know that research has shown hobbies help reduce the symptoms of depression?
You probably never thought about it before, but having a hobby is good for your mental health.
Your mental health is your most important asset. If you’re looking for ways to improve it, you might first start by setting up an appointment with a therapist, investing more in self-care, or finding a support group.
In addition to these helpful tools, hobbies are an excellent way to give your mental health a much-needed boost.
No matter what you’re interested in, engaging in the right activity can provide a chance to step back from the stressors of life, engage your mind and body in different ways, and bring joy and fulfillment to your life.
Whether you want to learn more about Feng Shui or try your hand at soap carving, there’s a hobby for everyone.
Why Having A Hobby Is Good For Your Mental Health
What’s more, having a hobby you regularly engage in also means you’re less likely to suffer from stress, low moods, and depression.
A study from BMC Public Health found that people who engaged in creative hobbies for more than 100 hours a year had notably better mental health than those who did not.
Hobbies also protect your aging brain! In her study on how reading and other hobbies influenced peoples’ lives, Dr. Tiffany Hughes found that engaging in hobbies for one or more hours every day may lower the risk of dementia later in life.
Furthermore, purposeful activities that get you outside and moving can help you feel happier and more relaxed. And with group activities like team sports, your communication skills also improve and you foster deeper connections and bonds with your teammates.
The trickiest part about hobbies though is finding one you actually enjoy doing. Experimentation is key, but if you really aren’t sure where to start try asking close friends who have similar interests.
If one hobby doesn’t meet your expectations, definitely keep trying as the overall effort is often worth the gain in positive mental health benefits.
How Hobbies Help
One of the interesting aspects of hobbies is that they present a chance for you to better understand your own needs and wants.and to explore what excites you (and what does not).
You’re also likely to learn a new skill along the way, which can fill you with a sense of pride and accomplishment. And with the much-needed confidence boost trying something new gives us, we can let go of fear, embrace change, and seek out more adventures to enjoy.
Let’s take, for instance, starting a hobby in home design. Expanding your interest and knowledge within the various facets of home design can help you make more choices tailored to your needs and wants.
And with your new knowledge, you can then also try things such as rearranging your space to create a better environment for yourself.
For example, becoming more familiar with sensory-friendly design concepts would likely lead you to think differently about your reactions to specific surroundings and provide a clearer idea of what you need in an environment to be comfortable, productive, and at ease.
Honestly, there’s no telling what you might discover about yourself through your hobbies.
Think Outside the Box
Many of us are familiar with more traditional hobbies such as baking, painting, or hiking. However, if you’ve found that the more mainstream hobbies don’t seem to interest you, it’s worth considering a few of the less-conventional hobbies out there.
Metal detecting is a perfect example of an interesting, albeit unordinary hobby that you likely haven’t considered trying. When you think about the aspects of metal detecting though, it’s easy to see why people enjoy it.
For one, an activity like metal detecting presents an opportunity to get outdoors and spend some time under the sun, which benefits us both mentally and physically.
Due to our skin’s response to sunlight, vitamin D is considered the “sunshine vitamin.” Vitamin D not only helps reduce your chances of developing certain diseases like multiple sclerosis and heart disease but can also play a role in keeping depression at bay.
Metal detecting goes beyond aimlessly walking up and down the beach, too. You can combine other hobbies such as geocaching with any metal detecting adventures you go on. Who doesn’t love a treasure hunt?
If you don’t want to invest in a lot of equipment, however, a hobby can be as simple as exploring parts of your neighborhood and community.
You can still build upon all the great mental and physical benefits that come with having a hobby, while also discovering hidden gems you would have ordinarily never noticed or found.
Combine it further by bringing along a camera — the one on your phone definitely counts — and try snapping pictures of interesting things you see. You can create an album as you go and look back at the pictures at the end of the year or share them with loved ones.
If you’ve tried picking up a new hobby in hopes of reaping the mental health benefits they provide but instead found yourself bored, confused, or simply uninterested then it might be time to get a little creative. Search “hobbies” on Google or YouTube and you’ll be inundated with hundreds of ideas. If you’re the hands-on type, check out your local community education offerings.
This year has been undeniably hard on everyone, which is why it’s more important than ever to focus on improving our collective mental health.
With some trial and error, you can find the right purposeful activity that will further enhance your life and positively impact your overall mental, physical, and emotional wellbeing.
So get out there and start digging into the world of hobbies. You never know what newfound joy you may end up discovering!
- Association of Enjoyable Leisure Activities With Psychological and Physical Well-Being
- Trying New Things
- Engagement in reading and hobbies and risk of incident dementia: the MoVIES project
- The art of being mentally healthy: a study to quantify the relationship between recreational arts engagement and mental well-being in the general population
- Hobbies may help in defeating depression