One of the five facets of wellbeing is ‘keep learning’, suggesting that taking up a new hobby can be really good for your wellbeing. However, some people are put off from doing so – they feel they don’t have enough time, or are worried about whether or not they will be ‘any good’ at this new skill.
You are more likely to enjoy and stick to your new hobby if you think of it not as something extra that you have to do, but as an enriching activity that you want to do. Try to banish any thoughts about whether or not you’re any ‘good’ at your new hobby, and just focus on enjoying it. Most of all, don’t beat yourself up if you don’t do it as often as you had previously planned. Doing something you enjoy some of the time is better than not doing it at all.
In the case of all of the activities below, doing them with someone else can also be beneficial for your mental health. Joining a club or group related to your hobby can help you connect with others and feel a sense of community as you work together to create something.
One study from Bakker Spalding found that 88% of gardeners reported increased mental wellbeing as a key benefit of gardening. Gardening has also been linked to a lower risk of dementia, and can really focus and relax the mind.
Watching things grow and seeing (and eating!) the benefits of your gardening can also give you an immense feeling of satisfaction. If you don’t have a garden but still want to be able to grow your own food, see this post for tips on how to do so.
Baking has also been hailed as therapeutic as it involves relaxing, repetitive actions such as kneading, measuring and stirring. These can help calm the mind. It can also be creative, and expressing yourself creatively is also good for your mental health.
Some bakers also find that they get a feeling of satisfaction and wellbeing when they share their baked goods with others. This ties in with the ‘give’ and ‘connect’ facets of wellbeing.
Walking and hiking
Being outside in the great outdoors not only exposes you to more sunlight and fresh air, but can also improve your mental health. One study found that participants who went for a walk in a natural environment for just 90 minutes showed decreased activity in one area of the brain associated with depression. Those who walked for the same amount of time in an urban environment showed no such changes, suggesting that walking in nature may be linked to good mental health.
Going for a walk or a hike outdoors also has key benefits for your physical health, and physical activity has been shown to have countless positive effects on mental wellbeing.
Art and craft
The rhythmic, repetitive nature of many art or craft activities such as knitting, painting and colouring has been linked to increased wellbeing and feelings of satisfaction and happiness.
Working with your hands to create something is also good for improving dexterity in those suffering from arthritis or other muscle problems, and becoming absorbed in an activity such as knitting has been shown to have similar relaxing effects to mindfulness and meditation.