8 hobbies to choose from to nurture your mental health

Hobbies are more than just fun things we do after work. They allow us to take back ownership of our time. Hobbies have a range of mental health benefits – from a sense of accomplishment to better mood to redirecting negative thoughts.

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Your hobbies won’t magically cure mental health disorders, so they are not a replacement for professional help. However, they are another tool that can help you manage your mental health and live the life you want. Here are the top hobbies to enrich your wellness.

Why are hobbies good for mental health?

Hobby make you feel good, They help you relax and unwind as you go about your day, with the added benefit of lowering your stress levels and blood pressure. Hobbies can help reduce the symptoms of existing depression and can reduce the risk of developing depression by up to 30%.

Ways that hobbies improve your mental health:

  • Improving Neuroplasticity: According to StatPearls, neuroplasticity describes our brain’s ability to adapt its activity and structure by creating and using new synaptic connections. You can think of your mind as a big map — there are many paths to your destination, and sometimes you have to change your path. Hobbies and habits require you to create new neural pathways, which provide new reference points for the brain to recognize.
  • reduce stress: Many people use hobbies as a way to relax from stressful days. When you do something you enjoy, you allow your body to relax and lower cortisol levels, which lowers your heart rate and blood pressure, while boosting your mood.
  • Help with self-esteem: Everyone likes to get things done. It brings a sense of self that feels great. Your confidence and self-esteem grow as you master your hobby.

Everyone is busy. It’s almost impossible not to feel like you’re bouncing from one thing to the next. But when you feel like you don’t have time to devote to your hobbies, remember, they are good for you.

What hobbies are best for promoting mental health?

There is no one ruler of hobbies when it comes to mental health. We are all different, so we will choose different things to help us relax. What works for you may not produce the same results for someone else. It’s all about finding the right hobby in which you find value.

Here are some common options people use to improve their mental health and why it works.

1. Journaling

Journaling regularly is a powerful tool that allows you to work through feelings and reflect on the events you experience. It is often recommended for people with anxiety, depression, and PTSD. You don’t have to write a novel; Research has shown that journaling for as little as fifteen minutes daily can help reduce anxiety.

You don’t need to find a problem to solve when journaling. This is also something you can do just for fun. Benefits come both ways. Common types of journaling include reflective journaling — which involves writing about your day and what you thought about it — and gratitude journaling.

No matter what type of journaling you choose, it’s a great hobby that allows you to highlight your victories and challenge negative thoughts and feelings.

A man sitting on his sofa is writing in a journal.

Luis Alvarez/Getty Images

2. Cooking

Everyone knows that food can be therapeutic. But can cook. In addition to the benefits it can have on your physical health, such as being in control of ingredients, there are many reasons why cooking is one of the best hobbies for mental health. It provides a level of emotional relief that other hobbies cannot.

According to a study published in Frontiers in Psychology, cooking can help you relax and increase your happiness. Its not hard to see why. With each dish, you feel more self-sufficient and confident, not to mention the social connections you can make while serving others. And for the record, yes, baking matters too.

3. Spending Time in Nature

Hobbies that involve being outdoors – such as hiking or gardening – can be great for mental health. Studies show that exposure to sunlight can help boost the body’s production of serotonin. According to Harvard Health Publishing, serotonin is a naturally occurring neurotransmitter that plays a role in regulating our mood. It’s called the “feel-good” chemical for a reason. When our body produces the right amount of serotonin, we feel happy and calm. Lower levels of serotonin are associated with mood disorders such as depression.

So if you are an outgoing person, you are helping your body fight depression without even knowing it. Being outside in nature can also reduce stress and lower your heart rate.

4. Art

When I say art, I’m talking about all the creative things you can think of – painting, drawing, sculpting, embroidery and woodworking. the list goes on. No matter where your hobbies fall in the lineup, you get mental health benefits from them.

Art lets you express your feelings and channel your creativity. You can also use it as a way to work through things that are hard to talk about. This is a frequently used tactic in art therapy sessions.

Art can also relieve stress and improve self-confidence. You don’t need to be “good” at painting. There is no bar to meet for quality. The only thing that matters is that you enjoy what you are doing.

5. Music

Playing an instrument gives you a sense of accomplishment and joy. Creating something feels good, and your body responds to those positive feelings. But if you are not musically inclined, don’t worry; Listening to music also has similar benefits by reducing stress and anxiety levels. It can also boost your mood.

Woman dancing in her kitchen while listening to music.

Getty Images/Westend61

6. Reading

Reading is the ultimate form of escapism. You can jump into a whole new world and live a thousand different lives — or as many books as you can read. It’s also a good hobby if you have concerns. Reading can help distract you from the negative or intrusive thinking you’re experiencing. It can also help lower your heart rate and relax you.

You will also get the same benefit from listening to books. So if you can’t find the time to read, try listening while you’re walking your dog or cleaning your house.

7. Strategy Games

Strategy games and puzzles – such as chess, crosswords and sudoku – are other hobbies that are good for your mental health. Studies have found that strategy games improve brain functioning, problem-solving skills, and memory. Puzzle games can also help people with ADHD increase their concentration.

Given their ability to strengthen cognition, strategy games and puzzles may also reduce the risk of developing dementia and Alzheimer’s in older adults. However, experts are divided on whether they are truly a preventive measure or if they help combat the disease. More research is needed to determine the role of strategy games in age-related cognitive decline.

8. Exercise

Whether you work out alone or participate in a team sport, exercise is one of the best hobbies — both physical and mental. According to Johns Hopkins Medicine, when we exercise, our brain is flooded with endorphins that boost mood.

Exercise is an outlet to vent frustrations and navigate emotions. By exercising, you are reducing your risk of anxiety and depression. Team sports give you that extra edge by getting your body moving as well as filling up your social meter.

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