Hobbies and Mental Health

Strategies for depression, anxiety, anger and stress

Having hobbies can provide you with the tools to better manage your depression, anxiety, anger or stress symptoms.

Maybe you love to cook, write, play guitar, go rock climbing or paint.  Then your depression came, or your anxieties got to paralyzing levels, or your anger and stress just became too much.  The hobbies fell by the wayside and you felt lost, bored, too tired to do anything.

Well, another factor you can control that helps deal with depression, anxiety, anger or stress is to use your talents, passions, talents or hobbies on a regular basis.  Research has shown that engaging in activities that you enjoy, or are naturally good at, can boost mental health.  One in-patient mental health facility in the United Kingdom that primarily treats those with schizophrenia and major depressive disorder helps its patients to develop long-lost hobbies.  They’ve found that many of these individuals had lost their sense of identity and/or self-esteem due to their condition or major events in their lives.  When therapists started to encourage these individuals to set aside time to engage in a hobby they noticed a marked improvement in their mental health and overall well-being.

Many individuals who are suffering from their symptoms find themselves housebound.  Maybe they do manage to have a job or career, but when they get home they are so drained that all the energy they can muster is to sit on the couch and watch TV.  They eat, go to bed and begin to process anew.  For these individuals life is a dead end and holds no interest in them.

A prominent researcher, Viktor Frankl, created a psychotherapeutic technique called logotherapy and is often used to help those suffering from a terminal illness.  Logotherapy was created as a meaning-centered psychotherapy that focuses on goals to be fulfilled by the patient in the future.  With this approach, the patient is confronted with the meaning of life, so as to provide an awareness that will allow him, or her, to overcome their issues.  Frankl considers it his primary focus that striving to find meaning is a person’s primary motivational force.

In treatment, this search for meaning often manifested itself in the form of hobbies or activities that the patient indicated held special importance in their lives.  Some told of their desire to paint, even though they may have any special talent in it, as a need to create something that will still exist well after they are gone.  Many found attachment to a pet and realized how important they were to having a purpose in their lives.  Knowing how much someone, even a pet, may depend on you took special meaning in their lives.  Others reported that engaging in their hobby was cathartic in that it allowed a way to channel and exorcise much of the pain and hurt they felt.

With this in mind, we can now see the importance of having hobbies or activities in our everyday lives.  If you can’t think of a hobby just try one of the things below to get you started.  Try it, and if you don’t like it, move on.  Keep in mind that some of these activities take awhile to master, but the more you practice, the more proficient you become.

Hobby Ideas:

1.       Adopt a pet

2.       Make bread, smoke fish, brew beer/wine and engage in other food projects

3.       Take up scrapbooking

4.       Learn to Knit

5.       Get into model trains, R/C airplanes or cars

6.       Take up hunting, camping or fishing

7.       Get into martial arts

8.       Try kayaking or rock climbing

9.       Teach yourself guitar or piano

10.   Learn to woodwork

11.   Try learning to dance

12.   Do snowboarding

13.   Join a soccer, rugby, softball or volleyball team

14.   Take up golf

15.   Do horse riding

16.   Learn how to make art from pottery, painting, drawing or mosaics

17.   Collect something: coins, antiques, sports memorabilia or wines

18.   Get outside and do some photography

19.   Try gardening

20.   Coach a little league team

21.   Buy a telescope and learn astronomy

22.   Volunteer for a charity

23.   Start a blog to vent your frustrations

24.   Study world history, culture or a new language

25.   Take up amateur archeology

26.   Get into patchwork/quilting

27.   Do candle making or homemade soaps

28.   Try beading

29.   Learn how to forage for mushrooms, plants and other edibles

30.   Join a literature group

31.   Take up the art of bonsai trees

32.   Trace your family history

33.   Do Pilates, yoga or aromatherapy

34.   Go geocaching

35.   Try joining a public speaking or singing group

36.   Learn to DJ and mix music

37.   Join a card playing group like bridge, poker, cribbage or sheepshead

38.   Try paintballing

39.   Create and design your own clothes

40.   Swimming

41.   Jump in your car and drive somewhere you’ve never been

42.   Make homemade movies

43.   Buy an aquarium and stock it with rare fish

44.   Collect and polish rocks

45.   Become a foodie and join a group

46.   Try sailing, water skiing, or other water sports

47.   Write poems

48.   Join an investing group

49.   Get a metal detector and see what you can dig up

50.   Renovate or re-decorate a room in your house/apartment

Any other ideas?  Let me know!

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