Hobbies That Can Benefit Your Mental Health
Mental health is very important, but it is something that people often overlook. Your brain is an organ in your body, and it can get sick, just like any other part of your body. Here are some hobbies that I have personal experience with and that have helped me improve my mental health.
Coloring requires a lot of focus due to the amount of repetition and detail. You use different parts of your brain in order to come up with color schemes, then focus on what you want the image to look like that you're coloring. Coloring also offers a sense of freedom because even though there are lines on the page, you don't have to color within the lines. Coloring is up to your own interpretation and can be a form of expression.
A journal is an unfiltered place just for you to put all of your thoughts and feelings, whether they be good or bad, positive or negative. It is a place to express yourself without judgement. You can journal about very specific things and in an organized fashion, or you can be as messy and unorganized as you want. You can use your journal entries to recognize patterns in your mental health in order to improve yourself and how you handle your emotions. Taking time to journal can be a form of relaxation and can be used as a way to organize your thoughts.
Walking gives you the opportunity to absorb the scenery around you. It is also good exercise for your heart and lungs, which can make your body feel pretty good, and in turn, will also improve your mental health. Also, if you take a scenic route with lots of birds and trees, the sounds of nature can be pretty relaxing. It's a good way to let your brain turn off for a little while and focus on your surroundings.
Gardening also allows you to be connected with nature. Gardening is also known to release serotonin and dopamine, which are known to be two of our happiness hormones. Plus, depending on what you plant, you can consume them for healthier eating. Healthy eating makes your body feel good, which will also naturally make you feel better as well.
It is said that swimming releases endorphins, which is another one of our happiness hormones. Swimming is yet another hobby that is also really good exercise for your heart and lungs. Water is known to bring about a peaceful, calming feeling and tends to relax our muscles in our body.
All of these hobbies have the ability to do the following:
- Put us in a meditative state, where we can learn a lot about ourselves, as well as our surroundings. Typically, meditation is used to clear our minds, but it's okay every now and again to let your mind wander, as long as you continue to stay focused on the area around you.
- Decrease symptoms of stress, anxiety, and depression due to the fact that they take you away from your technology/electronics and give you an opportunity to ground yourself. Grounding is a way to come back to reality and focus on the moment, rather than stressing about the past or worrying about the future. It's a way to absorb the energy from your surroundings to help you feel calm and peaceful, and even promote happiness.
- Escape from our everyday life to a place that is just for us, whether it be physically or even just within ourselves.
I personally have a little bit of experience in all of these hobbies. However, the ones I participate in the most are coloring and journaling. I love these two hobbies in particular because you can take them anywhere. I tend to leave my coloring as a hobby for when I'm at home, but I do carry my journal almost everywhere I go.
My journal provides me with a place to write anything and everything in the moment. I don't have an organized journal and prefer to just write whatever I'm thinking or feeling when I pick up a pen. This was also my therapist's most recommended journaling style.
As far as coloring goes, I tend to color in the lines and I'm very picky about my color schemes. Because of this, I don't often have the opportunity to think too much. I may think about things in passing, but it is much like meditation for me. When you meditate, you are supposed to focus on your body and clearing your mind. I don't really meditate, but coloring is the same in the sense that you are focusing on the image you are coloring. Your thoughts may drift every now and again, but your focus is still on the image in front of you.
Regardless of how you're feeling, these hobbies have many benefits to your mental health, and some even have benefits to your physical health. Your physical health and your mental health are related and do have an effect on each other, so it's always good to keep that in mind. These aren't the only hobbies that benefit mental health, though, so it's good to try everything and see what works best for you.