Friday, October 20, 2017

Guest Post - Improve Mental and Physical Health by Taking Up a Hobby

Working long hours at the office, rushing the kids to soccer practice, doing the dishes, folding the laundry. No wonder so many people are overwhelmed by stress! Our lives are hectic -- both at work and home. So when do you find time for yourself? If your answer is “never,” then it’s time to take steps to change that and take up a hobby. Carving out free time to pursue a hobby leads to happiness and fulfillment, and it improves your quality of life in several ways. Read on for information on how hobbies can improve your mental and physical health.

Hobbies for Mental Health

When you pursue a hobby, it provides a wealth of mental health benefits. Hobbies temporarily take you away from work-related stress, allowing you to briefly forget about your responsibilities. Most people even feel happier as they pursue a hobby. In fact, studies have shown that people who pursue hobbies have a lower risk of depression. They also experience lower risks of dementia.

If you pursue a hobby that requires you to play sports or engage in other physical movement, it can be a great outlet for daily frustrations or anger. As a result, this more positive attitude carries over into other aspects of your life. You may experience improved relationships with family members and co-workers. It also prevents you from getting burned out from your job if you have an outlet for relaxation.

Learning a new hobby can also boost your self-esteem. When you learn a new instrument or take a cooking class, you feel better because you’re improving yourself. Pursuing hobbies even boosts mental fitness. Writing a novel, reading books, learning how to design a website, completing crossword puzzles, or taking a sewing class improves memory and problem-solving skills.

Hobbies Improve Physical Health

One study showed that people who engage in hobbies that require physical activity for at least 20 minutes experienced less fatigue, and their waist circumference and body mass index were lower. They also enjoyed decreased amounts of cortisol as well as lower blood pressure. Additional health benefits of hobbies include better sleep, increased flexibility and a boosted immune system.

Hobbies Boost Social Interaction

Some hobbies require you to join a team or class. Sharing your love of a hobby with like-minded people provides you with social benefits too. You get to meet new people, collaborate with them and accomplish something together. Whether you join a sports team, take a dance class, play in a community orchestra, or join a chess club, you encounter other people who are enjoying the same interests as you.

Staying Safe While Pursuing Your Hobby

Hobbies provide countless benefits, but some downtime pursuits can be dangerous. For example, if you enjoy woodworking or building, follow basic safety procedures to prevent a trip to the emergency room, as power tools and saws can cause injury if not used in the right way. Playing sports without wearing the proper equipment can also result in injury. Going for a hike in the woods? Take a friend with you so you can look out for each other.

Deciding on a Hobby

People come in all shapes and sizes. And their interests are just as diverse. So how do you decide which hobby to pursue? It all depends on what you enjoy. Maybe you’ve always wanted to pick up a tennis racket but never had the opportunity. Have you always wanted to make your own scarves or winter hats? Why not try knitting? Maybe you have dreams of being a famous actor. Well, you may not end up winning the Academy Award anytime soon, but you can join a community theater and immerse yourself in drama -- onstage or behind the scenes.

It doesn’t matter whether you like basketball, ballet, painting, piano, building birdhouses or anything in between. If it helps you relax and decompress from life’s stresses, it just may be the perfect hobby for you.

When you feel like you never have time for yourself and life has become dull and routine, pick up a hobby that will put some sparkle into your everyday existence. Hobbies enhance your mental health and physical health, and they influence other areas of your life, helping you cultivate positive relationships with people at home and the workplace. So don’t let your life go by without finding something that brings you joy. Make time for a hobby!l

By Constance Ray
Constance Ray started with the goal of creating a safe place for people to share how addiction has affected them, whether they are combating it themselves or watching someone they care about work to overcome it.

Photo via Pixabay

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