A positive, enriching hobby that you enjoy delivers amazing mental health benefits. Yet, Dr. Jaime L. Kurtz points out that hobbies are declining because Americans have no free time. The problem, according to Dr. Kurtz, is that we waste time and create the illusion of being too busy for hobbies. The truth is, most people do have enough time to engage in a hobby, and you should make more time for these activities to reap the benefits to your health and well-being. Not convinced? Keep reading to learn more about three benefits of joining a hobby group.
1. Hobbies Give Us a Sense of Control
Between work and home, we often feel that we don’t have much control over our lives or our time. Hobbies empower people to choose how to spend their time, which projects to work on, and the level of creativity they put into them. Pursuing hobbies alleviates the frustration and intimidation we feel at work and in life in general when we feel a loss of control over our time or our actions. On the other hand, being able to regain a sense of control over our lives by pursuing hobbies and interests we enjoy, we tend to feel more centered and calm.
2. Hobbies Relieve Stress
A recent study found that hobbies are just as important to good health and overall well-being as exercise because they help to reduce stress. Specifically, researchers found that people who engage in leisure activities are 34% less stressed and 18% less sad than when they were not pursuing hobbies. People who engaged in hobbies also felt happier and had lower heart rates that calmed them for hours. It’s worth noting that the study did not find any benefit of one hobby over another; when participants did something they deeply enjoyed, they significantly reduced their stress levels.
Dr. Matthew Zawadzki, lead author of the study, explains that the long-term effects of relieving stress by pursuing hobbies are positive because “stress causes a build-up of higher heart rate, blood pressure, and hormone levels, so the more we can prevent this overworked state, the less of a load it builds up.” In fact, chronic stress is linked to higher risk of heart disease, increased depression, poor performance at work and school, weight gain, memory loss, a weakened immune system, and earlier death.
3. Hobbies Provide a New Social Circle
Recent research shows that loneliness and social isolation threaten our health just like obesity does. Fortunately, we can combat these detrimental effects by pursuing a group hobby, becoming a member of a new social circle, and building friendships with those who share similar interests. When you establish friendships with like-minded peers, you increase your sense of connectedness, reduce your stress levels and improve your mental health.
There are several ways to find a hobby group in line with your interests and passions. Search for local Meetups and clubs that center on your particular interests. You may join a local Book Club, fly-tying club, or baking group. Or, you may find neighbors who share your passion for model trains or dollhouses. No matter the hobby, you will reap the mental health benefits of group inclusion. You also can create T-shirts for your group if you go on outings, participate in competitions, or want to promote your group at a local function, which helps to build camaraderie.
Pursuing a hobby and joining a hobby group are ideal ways to improve your mental health and well-being by reducing stress. When you pursue a hobby, you gain a sense of control, relieve stress in a healthy way, and gain new social connections to others who share your interests.
Image via Pixabay by Counselling