Mental Health Matters: Purposeful Activities And Hobbies
by Laura Barns
It’s never been more important to make sure we’re all looking after our mental health, as well as our physical health.
In this series, we’ve taken a look at some of the best ways to help our wellbeing during COVID-19, quarantining, self-isolation and beyond.
The link between hobbies and mental health
Sometimes it can feel like a challenge to make time for yourself and the things you enjoy doing. However, having a hobby isn’t just about indulgent ‘me time’ – filling our days with things we love to keep our brains and bodies active can be a really important part of physical and mental wellness.
Research has shown that people with hobbies are less likely to suffer from stress, depression and low mood. Your interests may be creative, athletic, academic, or something distinctly personal to you. You may choose a hobby that you can do alone or as part of a group. Whatever your interests are, there is sure to be a hobby out there for you. What matters most is that it is something you find meaningful and enjoyable.
What are the best hobbies to engage in, to help fight anxiety and depression?
If you’re self-isolating or have been at home for a while due to the changing restrictions, you may have found that the usual activities you enjoy are no longer possible, or at least, in the way that you’re used to enjoying them. With so much else happening that requires our immediate attention, figuring out new ways of keeping purposefully active might not be top of our priority lists.
Though as Hobby Help proves, small changes to your favourite past-times can make a world of difference for your mental health, as can trying new hobbies during lockdown and beyond. Here are some of their top recommendations:
- Photography – photography is a great way to get out of your head and connect with the world around you, whether that’s outdoors or seeing things in your home (literally) through a different lens. And the good thing about photography today is that now you’ve most likely got a really decent camera at your fingertips in your phone. Photoguard has curated some at-home photography tips if you’d like to try something completely new during this time.
- Playing music – if you’ve always wanted to learn how to play a certain instrument, now is the time! There are plenty of online resources for learning an instrument to help get you started. Or, if you prefer, simply crank up the volume of your radio and dance/sing away for similar results.
- Writing or journaling – writing is a great way to relax and understand your feelings, as you can keep a journal to monitor your mood over a certain period of time. Fiction writing is also a great form of temporary escapism, whilst being creative.
- Drawing, painting or sculpting – again, art is another creative way to unwind and channel your thoughts into something positive. Artistic pursuits can be incredibly healing. Engagement in creative activities has been scientifically proven to reduce stress, anxiety, and even mood disturbances. Creative expression through art has been linked to a myriad of health benefits, from improved physical and psychological wellbeing to quality of life.
- Yoga – we all know that yoga is good for our mental and physical health and that’s why it has become really popular over the years. Yoga can calm our nervous system, help with depression and reduce muscle tension. You can easily start doing yoga by learning a few easy poses through online yoga classes.
- Gardening – One of the best hobbies that will help you reconnect with nature is gardening. Whether you choose to plant your favourite flowers or an entire vegetable garden, gardening is a hobby that will keep you healthy both physically and mentally.
- Cooking – for many of our team members, like Val, nothing compares to the art of cooking when it comes to keeping our brains and bodies healthy. She shared how cooking helps her improve her mental health.
Prioritising time for your purposeful activity
It’s important to note that engaging in a new hobby with your mental health in mind shouldn’t involve self-imposed guilt-trips for when you’re having a difficult day, or if things aren’t progressing as quickly as you’d like. Committing to one new hobby and setting aside a certain amount of time each day is a good idea, so that you can focus on it and yourself. And as always, treat yourself with compassion – it can take courage to try something new, and this shouldn’t be forgotten, especially during these difficult times.
Do you have any other tips to add for engaging in a new hobby during lockdown? We’d love to hear from you in the comments.
by Laura Barns
Laura is our Copywriter, who is obsessed with the Hearty Roots Stew (and has been known to eat a double serve for lunch on more than one occasion). On her day off you’ll find her walking her puppy Ralph, stopping off at bookshops and cocktail bars along the way.