Below we include the 10 best hobbies for your mental health.
What is a hobby?
A hobby can be any activity done regularly during spare or leisure time for pleasure. Whether you do something creative, athletic, academic, or something more individualized, what matters is that it is something you find meaningful and enjoyable. Hobbies include spending quiet time alone, visiting or eating with others, communing with nature, playing sports, and even vacationing.
When we dedicate time to engage in pleasurable activities voluntarily, research shows our mental health can flourish and improve.
How Hobbies Improve Mental Health
Many factors affect your mental health – from everyday tasks to life-changing events.
And while there are many ways that we can do to improve our mental health, we often take for granted the simple ways to do it. This includes spending time on an activity or thing you enjoy – otherwise known as a hobby.
Research shows that participating in leisure or spare time activities has been shown to reduce stress levels, low mood, and depression symptoms.
People with hobbies are happier, more relaxed, and have a good social relationships with others.
Common hobbies may be creative, sports-related (athletic), academic or something personal. It may be an activity that you can do alone or as a part of a group.
Whatever your interests are, there is sure to be a hobby that will fit your liking and personality. What matters when choosing a hobby is that you find something that is meaningful and, at the same time, enjoyable thing for you to do.
10 Best Hobbies for Your Mental Health
Sports and Exercise
Engaging in sporting activities and exercise are beneficial to your mental health. Doing physical movements releases endorphins in the brain, which brings feelings of happiness and reduces symptoms of mental illness.
Sign up for a local gym near you or enjoy outdoor exercise where you can soak up some sunshine or breathe fresh air. You can also do cardio exercises such as running or biking, which promotes both good physical and mental health.
Books have valuable lessons hidden within words. Reading can strengthen the neural connections to the brain, which can help alleviate the symptoms of stress, anxiety, and depression.
To find a book that will help your mental health, you can download them online, attend an event, or join a book club in your city.
Simply writing down your thoughts and feelings in a journal can help you relieve stress, cope with depression, and manage symptoms of mental illness.
Journaling helps you identify and work through life situations causing poor mental health. This will then allow you to plan ways to resolve issues that may have a negative impact on your mental status.
Lastly, journaling allows you to practice positive self-thoughts and reflect on positive thoughts only.
From hiking to bushwalking, outdoor hobbies can help you stay physically fit and emotionally balanced. Engaging in some outdoor activities and even simply being outdoors can release feel-good chemicals called endorphins.
Sun exposure can also trigger more positive thoughts, preventing you from feeling sad and depressed.
Research proves that creating visual art is the best hobby for mental health. A study published in 2022 found that making art help improve your attention, boost your self-esteem, and relieve stress.
Everyone starts as a beginner. You can use pencils, a set of watercolour paints, a few paintbrushes, and a blank canvas and start making your own art.
Listening to your favourite music has a significant impact on your mental health. Music often brings forth happy memories and emotions, reducing stress and anxiety.
The benefits of music continue beyond just listening to it. Anyone can achieve a sense of accomplishment and fun from learning how to play an instrument. These excellent hobbies boost mental health as it helps you process emotions, express your feelings, and connect with others.
Shaking your groove is beneficial for your physical health and can help your mental status by relieving symptoms of anxiety and depression.
Dancing is also a fun way to connect with others – whether it is a private tango class or a local ballroom dance in your community. On top of that, you are learning a new skill that is a great way to boost your confidence.
Meditation may be one of the slowest-paced hobbies on the list, but it is certainly one of the best practices for lowering stress levels.
Studies suggest meditation can lower blood pressure, decrease heart rate, and reduce cortisol levels. It also boosts the brain by improving your memory and attention span. More importantly, it promotes good emotional regulation skills, which help handle everyday stressors.
To start meditating, find a quiet, comfortable place to sit or lie down. Focus all your attention on your breathing pattern for the first to 10 minutes. Observe your thoughts to avoid distractions and bring your focus to your breathing – inhale, exhale, and repeat.
Gardening can break cycles of stress and anxiety by promoting joy and positivity. There is nothing like nurturing plants to encourage optimism and good mental health. Watching the plants grow is a good choice of a hobby as it helps you clear your mind, especially after difficult days.
Gardening does not mean having a big space and fancy equipment. Start with a few plants from the local garden store and allot time to give them adequate sun and air.
Doing this gives you an opportunity to unplug from the fast-paced, modern world and focus on caring for something simple.
Participating in group activities offer important opportunities to build social relationship and support with friends and loved ones that can contribute greatly to mental health.
A study found that 1.35 million Australian adults participating in regular group sporting activities were less likely to experience stress, anxiety, and depression.
Shared experiences through sports and other group activities promote good communication and help people feel less isolated.
If you are on the lookout for a new hobby, try something with a group, like a new team sport or community-building ideas.
Learn More about Mental Health
Well, now you know what are the best hobbies you can do and how they can help your mental help.
If you are struggling with poor mental health, take some time out and engage in one of your favourite hobbies. If your hobby is not mentioned in this blog, let us know in the comments below.
Alternatively, you can also learn how to help someone experiencing mental illness by enrolling in an MHFA course.
Mental Health First Aid (MHFA) includes various strategies on how to help someone in both crisis and non-crisis situations and where to turn for help. You will learn risk factors and how to warning signs for mental illness and addiction concern to the people you know and work with.
With the right information and skills, you could help someone who is struggling with poor mental health and get them the support they need.
For more information on Mental Health First Aid, visit our course page to learn more.