Having some great hobbies is a very important part of a balanced life. They give us an opportunity to do something just for ourselves and they can help us recharge after a busy day or week.
Hobbies can also be relaxing and relieve depression and anxiety. Here are 10 great hobbies that can help you feel calm and fulfilled.
With the seeming epidemic of mental health problems in society currently, scientists and social scientists have turned their attention to these subjects. They have discovered many hobbies that can relieve issues such as anxiety and depression. The best thing is, many of these great hobbies are fun, too.
Read on to find some suggestions for great hobbies to help you feel calm and happy.
Often when you are feeling depressed it can be hard to get motivated. Starting a new craft can be a great way to get your mojo back. You can start with a simple project and move on from there. Completing a small project gives you a sense of satisfaction, too.
Gavin Clayton, one of the founders of the National Alliance for Arts, Health and Wellbeing, says: “Our evidence shows that taking part in creative activities has a positive impact on people’s mental health”.
There are hundreds of crafts you can try. It’s nice to start by making something for yourself or your home. You could try sewing, knitting, candle making, woodwork, or pottery.
If there is a craft you used to enjoy, try starting it up again. If there is something that you have always wanted to try then make a start. There are hundreds of resources available online to teach you the basics. Just remember to start with something simple so that you don’t get overwhelmed.
Photography can be a great way to lift your mood. Looking through the lens of a camera makes you view the world in a different way. You start to look for beauty in everything and this improves your mood. If you feel negative a lot, then it is definitely worth giving photography a try. As with other arts and crafts, there is scientific evidence to suggest that art can improve your mood.
In a survey, participant of an ‘Arts on Prescription’ Project reported the following effects on their health and wellbeing:
• 76 % reported an increase in wellbeing
• 73 % reported a decrease in depression
• 71 % reported a decrease in anxiety
Starting photography is also a great way to record and remind yourself of good times. You can even create a gallery or blog of your work to look at whenever you feel a bit low. Sharing your photographs with others could also help other people who experience anxiety and depression.
Gardening is another hobby that can boost your mood and relieve anxiety. Getting involved in gardening can focus your attention and stop you from worrying. It can be a very relaxing hobby and can reduce stress levels. As gardening also involves getting outside you get the added benefits of fresh air and exercise, too.
Research indicates that ‘Therapeutic horticulture may decrease depression severity and improve perceived attentional capacity by engaging effortless attention and interrupting rumination,’ (Gonzalez MT).
If you do not have a garden, you could get involved in a community gardening project instead. If even the thought of that makes you anxious, then you could at least grow herbs on your windowsill and keep houseplants around your home.
Making your garden look nice will also encourage you to spend more time outside relaxing and enjoying it.
We all know that music can change our mood. Who hasn’t felt uplifted when their favorite happy song comes on the radio? You can use this effect to relieve your anxiety and depression. Whether you are playing music or listening to it, you can benefit from its effects.
The American Music Therapy Association (AMTA) suggests that music can have the following benefits:
- Reduced muscle tension
- Increased self-esteem
- Decreased anxiety
- Enhanced interpersonal relationships
- Increased motivation
- Successful and safe emotional release
If you have ever fancied learning an instrument, this could be a great reason to start. You can find tutorials online and many instruments, such as guitars, ukuleles, and recorders are inexpensive to buy.
If you don’t want to learn a musical instrument, you could try singing instead. And if that isn’t for you either, then at least consider making listening to uplifting music a part of your daily routine.
Hiking has so many benefits to health and wellbeing it is hard to know where to start. Obviously, there are the physical benefits of getting exercise, but it is more than just that. Getting outside can increase your levels of vitamin D. Low levels of vitamin D have been linked with depression.
Researchers at Stanford University found that people who walk for 90 minutes in nature (as opposed to high-traffic urban settings) were less likely to worry and ruminate. Rumination is the focused attention on the symptoms of one’s distress, and on its possible causes and consequences, as opposed to its solutions. It is one of the factors associated with depression.
As well as taking your mind off your worries, the exercise will increase your levels of serotonin which is known to reduce depression and regulate anxiety.
Writing is the simplest hobby to start. All you need is a pen and some paper or your computer. There are dozens of different types of writing, from keeping a gratitude journal, to recording how you feel each day, to writing poetry, short stories, non-fiction or a novel.
Geoff Lowe from the Department of Clinical Psychology, University of Hull has found that the benefits of journaling include improvements in health and well‐being.
Studies have also shown that journaling can help:
- Manage anxiety
- Reduce stress
- Cope with depression
It can do this by:
- Helping you prioritize problems, fears, and concerns
- Tracking any symptoms day-to-day so that you can recognize triggers and learn ways to better control them
- Providing an opportunity for identifying negative thoughts and behaviors and replacing them with healthier ones.
If you don’t like the idea of keeping a journal, you could express yourself through any other kind of writing. Becoming involved in writing a piece of fiction or non-fiction can take your mind off your negative thoughts.
If you have ever thought you would like to have a go at writing, then this could be a great way to help you overcome anxiety and depression.
Many studies have found that yoga can improve wellbeing. In particular, yoga can relieve stress, reduce muscle tension, and calm the nervous system.
Also, yoga has been shown to increase the level of gamma-aminobutyric acid, or GABA, a chemical in the brain that helps to regulate nerve activity. This is especially relevant to people who have anxiety disorders in which GABA activity is low.
Starting a simple yoga routine is easy to do and need only take a few minutes a day to have significant positive effects. There are apps and online resources that can guide you through simple poses. You could also join a class with a qualified teacher to get you started and make sure you are doing the poses correctly.
Ending your yoga routine with a relaxation or meditation session will also help you to feel calm and relaxed.
I hope you like my ideas for great hobbies to relieve anxiety and depression. I also hope the scientific evidence has encouraged you to try some of these great hobbies. If you are experiencing severe anxiety and depression, you should speak to a medical professional about your symptoms, but you can still use these ideas to lift your mood and calm you down.
We’d love to hear what hobbies make you feel good. Please share your great hobbies with us in the comments below.
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