Some hobbies are not great for our mental health, but I am all about balance.
Sitting down for hours in front of the television with your Netflix boxsets, for example, can mess with your mood state. According to research, too much screen time can lead to feelings of depression, partly because when we do this, we aren’t getting the exercise we need to release those feel-good chemicals into our brain. Screen time isn’t exclusive to the TV, of course, as we need to factor other hobbies into this, such as playing video games, spending time on social media (if that can be considered a hobby), and any activity that requires spending a long time fixated on the computer. Some of these things are fine in moderation, but for the long-term benefits to our mental health, we should also factor in those hobbies that aren’t part and parcel of a sedentary lifestyle.
And if you don’t have any hobbies? Then perhaps now is the time to think about those activities that could give you pleasure, especially if you have been struggling mentally recently.
These are the reasons why.
#1: Hobbies can distract our minds
Life is stressful, and sometimes, we can become so overwhelmed and start to feel low and depressed as a consequence. To counter some of these feelings, we should partake in those hobbies that can distract us from the things that hurt us. By focusing on something else, particularly something that elicits happy thoughts, we can remove ourselves from some of our daily pressures. We might also gain the capacity to face our challenges head-on, as having refreshed our minds with something else, we might have renewed mental energy to cope.
#2: Hobbies can improve our self-esteem
We aren’t perfect, and there will be times when we screw up. Other people can criticise us too, especially when they are judgemental over our weaknesses. As a consequence of both, our self-esteem can take a plummet. Thank goodness for hobbies then. They can help us in two ways.
Firstly, they can help us find our niche. We aren’t good at everything, but when we find out what we are good at, our self-esteem will start to rise. We might discover previously untapped talents in baking, woodwork, painting, or any other creative endeavour, for example.
Secondly, we have something to look upon as a result of our hobby. It might be a trophy or some other award if we take part in competitions. Or it might be a finished product, such as a freshly baked cake, a beautiful painting, or a sculpture. Not only will we benefit from these things on a personal level, but we would also have something to showcase our talents to others. Hopefully, they would then bless us with kind words of praise, further boosting our positive feelings.
Hobbies can improve our finances
What’s the biggest source of stress in your life? Chances are, you might suggest money as being the root cause. It’s true for most of us, as studies have suggested that money worries top the list of stressors that many of us face. To alleviate this common issue, a hobby might boost both your finances and your mental well-being, so consider turning something into a business.
So, think about the types of hobbies that you might enjoy, and consider how you might make money from them. Baking is one example, as you could sell your cakes and pastries at local markets and community events, and you might even start your own e-commerce business online. You would need to hone your skills, of course, so you might take a cookery class. And you might need to spend a little money at the outset; these cake decorating tools help make beautiful cakes, for example. But your time and money will be well spent because you might then make a profit.
Apply the above to any hobby, especially with any that you might currently be engaged in. Not only will you alleviate your financial stresses with a boost to your income, but going back to one of the other points on this list, you might also raise your self-esteem thanks to your achievements in business.
#4: Hobbies can connect us to people
Some of us enjoy being alone, but there are times when we need to reach out to others. Other people can distract us from our stresses. They can support us when we feel down. And we can feel part of a community, so we don’t have to feel as if we are always on our own.
So, look for hobbies where you can make new friends. It might be a dance or a Yoga class, or some kind of team-based sporting activity. You might then meet somebody that you will form a close friendship with, or you might increase your social circle by becoming part of a group of friends. And look for hobbies where you can feel more connected to the people you love, engaging in shared activities with your family, as these might bring you closer together.
By improving your social network, and by drawing closer to your family, you should start to feel the mental health benefits as a result of your relationships.
Today, consider what hobbies might benefit your life. Then find ways to take part in them, and if that means turning off the television for a few hours, then that’s probably for the better.
I hope this has helped in some way. What do you do to unwind and take yourself out of your head?