How To Make Hobbying Beneficial To Your Mental Health

By Maria Cannon

For millions of us, having a hobby is a great way to meet new people, enjoy their free time, and even make some extra money doing something they love. 

But having an interest that you put time and effort into can also be beneficial to your mental health in many ways; in fact, some hobbies, such as painting, dancing, sewing, and more, are actually being used as forms of therapy in treating mental health disorders.

Even people who feel they aren’t the creative type can benefit from having a hobby. It’s not just for artists and crafters; anything that you enjoy doing can be turned into a hobby, from working with wood to cooking. In some cases, you can even turn your hobby into a side job or a new career, depending on how much time you’re able to spend doing it.

Here are some of the best ways having a hobby can help your mental health.

It can make you more social

Depending on the ways you use your hobby, it can help you get social, meet new people, and make new friends. If you’re looking to make a business out of what you love, it can also help you make contacts. For instance, if you’re a photographer who would love to start taking on jobs at weddings and other big events, bring your camera along everywhere you go and take some interesting shots, then put them up on a blog or social media page to help spread the word about your talent.

The more people you get to look at your work, the more clients you could possibly get in the future. You could even print up t-shirts with the name of your business on them to spread the word and get people interested in your services.

It can boost self esteem

For many people, a hobby is a way to relax, take some time away from the busy work week, and have fun. But when you’re good at something--and it, in turn, makes you feel good--your self-esteem can really benefit from it.

This is especially true when you can reap the rewards of your hard labor, such as gardening and being able to eat what you grow. For more on self-sufficient gardening click here.

It reduces stress

Most hobbies engage your creative side, even if it’s not a so-called "creative"pursuit. Baking, restoring cars, and woodworking are all considered skills, but they aren’t necessarily associated with creativity.

However, they all light up the creative side of your brain, which can help reduce stress and anxiety. Doing something that makes you relaxed and happy can stick with you for hours and can even help you get more restful sleep at night.

It boosts your brainpower

Many hobbies require you to employ critical thinking skills, so you’re actively engaging your brain every time you do what you love. Whether it’s making art or working in the garden, your mind will be hard at work making sure you use the right techniques and follow a certain order.

Photograph from RHS

It promotes active leisure

While the term "active leisure" might sound like an oxymoron, it’s actually a well-documented premise in the field of psychology and occurs when we use our leisure time to do something productive.

Rather than binge-watching a show on a lazy Sunday afternoon, use those hours to do something you enjoy, such as creative writing, and you might be amazed at how time seems to fly by.

It gives you something to be passionate about

Having a hobby can also mean having a sense of purpose. Being passionate about something you enjoy doing - whether it be mountain biking or yoga - can make you feel good about yourself, like you have something to add to the conversation when you’re with others. It can broaden your horizons and help you learn about new cultures, as well.

No matter your interests, a hobby can be the mental health boost you’re looking for, so take advantage!

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