In the current fast-paced world, more and more people are finding hobbies either inconvenient or simply unnecessary. According to research, however, we’re often denying ourselves the chance to experience optimal mental health by denying ourselves the chance to indulge in things we enjoy. Here’re some of the main reasons why hobbies can improve your mental health and make you a better person.
They reduce stress
One of the causes (and indicators) of poor mental health is stress. According to The Australian Psychological Society, people who spend time engaging in activities they enjoy, such as making music, swimming, or reading are usually more efficient at managing stress compared to people who don’t. Activities that take you away from the everyday busy life can make you feel relaxed and happier.
They increase creativity and mood
Many hobbies are essentially creative. Whether you are practicing music, painting, reading a book, or even cooking, you don’t just produce something that was inexistent before but engage your brain’s creative network as well. The more you experiment with creative pursuits, the more your brain’s neural network expands. This leads to new connections between brain circuits that may not have been connected. According to experts, this form of neural linking increases mood by increasing the levels of dopamine and other “feel-good” hormones.
If you can remember the last time you got really engaged in a creative hobby, you may recall getting into a certain mental state commonly referred to as “flow” or “in the zone.” This happens because creative activities can get to a point of being meditative.
They increase social engagement
There are certain chemicals in the brain that assist in regulating social behavior. These are arginine vasopressin and oxytocin. You’d be more likely to experience issues like social anxiety disorder if these chemicals reduced dramatically in your body.
Hobbies help us engage more with other people; as a result, they boost these hormones in our bodies and improve our mental health in many ways. For instance, when oxytocin increases in the brain, it can help slow down or prevent Alzheimer’s and dementia, according to a Biochemical and Biophysical Research Communications study. In other words, hobbies improve our mental health by allowing us to enjoy the perks of social engagement.
They boost confidence and self-image
Indulging in something you love doing, or something that makes you feel good about yourself is a great way to boost your self-image or self-esteem. That’s why you’ll often find people resigning to their musical talents or other things they love doing to boost their confidence.
If you love making items, you can really feel good about yourself by crafting unique cards for your friends. Similarly, if you love working with vintage items, you may find your good vibes increasing when you collect, buy or sell vintage toy collections. Self-image and confidence are important when it comes to mental health. People with high self-esteem know or believe that they are good people; they appreciate their good qualities and therefore, strive to lead a happy and successful life. That means that factors that usually undermine mental health, such as addictions and anxiety are less likely to affect them.
They help you discover yourself
We are all like blank canvases waiting to be filled out. The more we fill ourselves with the same mundane activities or routine, the more we feel lost, tired, and empty. This is dangerous because it can lead to unhealthy habits, addiction, and depression. Things become worse when you get to that point; for instance, if you develop an addiction, your identity vanishes slowly, and you feel even more hopeless and worthless.
Luckily, hobbies can both prevent that from happening and help you recover. As you engage in exciting things that expose your creativity, talents, and strengths, your brain changes; you confidently remember that you are better than you thought and important. This happens as you discover the skills, abilities, and characteristics you didn’t think you had. Eventually, you become better able to exit your comfort zone, take more risks and become open-minded.
Although many people find it hard to understand it, taking some time to engage in things you love is really helpful. Inherently, it’s not a time-waster; rather, it’s something that would help you make better use of the time you have to be productive by empowering you mentally.