With our daily lives becoming increasingly hectic, it’s crucial to take time to recharge our physical and mental batteries and wind down. Despite long work hours and stressful daily obligations, we are still responsible for how we choose to feel and think. Instead of using our free time recklessly, we need to dedicate it to something that will bring us purpose, meaning, and joy.
Activities and hobbies have many benefits for mental health. They make us happy and relaxed and are even able to cure or prevent states such as depression or anxiety. At the same time, they stimulate our mind, enhancing our mental capabilities and making us more resilient, wiser, and smarter.
The Level of Engagement
Just doing something – like binging on a tv series – is not a hobby or activity. The key is in the level of engagement. One phone survey, in which 702 adults took part, showed that those who dedicated more than 100 hours per year to arts engagement reported significantly better mental health than those who dedicated less. More than 100 hours might seem a lot, but it’s actually an engagement of two hours a week. Another diary study showed that everyday creativity produces higher levels of positive affect.
Of course, creativity doesn’t mean you have to be an artist. It is more about creative freedom and control over how you spend your time. So let’s take a look at activities and hobbies that will certainly have a positive impact on your mental health.
We all have certain skills we can use to help others by volunteering – no matter if we choose animal shelters or helping those in need, such as addicts. It’s all about kindness and compassion which are the two best things for mental health and you can even get a certificate in the process. Of course, there are many online courses where you can acquire a mental health certificate, but only the ones with practical work placement will let you harvest all the benefits – increase your confidence, improve your sense of self-worth, heighten self-love, create better relationships, and put your own problems in perspective. Obviously, you get a lot more than you give.
Along the same line, if you’re not a shelter type of person you can get your own pet. They’re not just lovely companions but they can do wonders for your mental health in the long run, since they increase empathy. This has been scientifically proven – when something happens to our pet our visual cortex is activated and we internally activate our own emotions and sensations as if we felt the same. So owning a pet is both cerebral and emotional boost at the same time.
Your Own Garden
Gardening is proved to be good for mental health, but that’s obvious even without any scientific evidence. Surrounded by fresh air and flowers, getting your hands dirty in order to plant something beautiful – the best recipe for happiness. It is a highly therapeutic pastime, whether you’re rhythmically thrusting the spade into the earth or simply looking at the flowers. On top of that, gardening provides us with a great perspective – while we’re looking at plants that grow and blossom, we realize that we’re just a tiny petal in the universe.
A Lump of Clay
When it comes to arts & crafts, pottery definitely takes the lead. Besides the fact that it’s a great way of coming up with a homemade present, it’s been scientifically proven that it reduces the level of the stress hormone cortisol and since it provides a gentle exercise for the hands and wrists it’s also good for arthritis sufferers. Shaping a lump of clay on the potter’s wheel into your very own creation is highly therapeutic – as the clay begins to form your body and mind become synergized with your surroundings and the whole universe.
Shading Between The Lines
The popular opinion that coloring is reserved only for children can’t be farther from the truth. In this era of round-the-clock technology and increasing workloads, it’s a positive and simple way to reach mindfulness and learn how to live in the present moment.
Journalling is also an activity considered to be appropriate for teenagers at most, but the fact is regular journal entries are able to strengthen our immune system as they help us come to terms with stressful events in our lives and buffer their impact on our health. Keeping the journal can also diminish the symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis and asthma. Just remember that quality comes before quantity – writing in more depth even once a week provides a bigger boost for psychological well being than writing every day.
Dancing is an effective and safe but, most of all, extremely fun way to boost your physical and mental well being. Latin and Ballroom dance classes boost your heart rate, balance, and strength, while a 2-week tango course can take care of insomnia, anxiety, stress, and depression. As a synchronization of music and movements, it activates sensory and motor circuits and stimulates the brain, creating ʽpleasure double playʼ.
We could’ve mentioned the usual stuff like meditation and yoga, but the goal of this list is to show you that there’s a wide range of hobbies and activities beneficial for mental health that doesn’t hold any restriction in terms of gender, age, or physical built. There’s something for everyone, so take your pick!