Coping with life’s stresses can often benefit from keeping the mind active and creative and many people are now finding that taking up a hobby can be therapeutic.
In days gone by pursuits such as sewing and woodwork were more of a necessity than a pastime, but did they make people happier? These days computers and TV’s take up our leisure time and offer a lot less in terms of healthy mental activity.
Engaging in a hobby can therefore help restore some balance.
Does it make a difference?
A study quoted in the Journal of the American Medical Association looked at a group of 30 women who regularly engaged in sewing. By testing key indicators, such as blood pressure, heart rate and skin temperature before and after various leisure activities, it turns out that sewing produced distinct improvements. This contrasted with more negative stress responses when they switched to other activities, such as playing cards or video games.
It seems that hobbies can produce a relaxation response that brings a sense of mental and physical wellbeing. Employing the creative side of our minds and concentrating on a skilled task can refocus our thoughts into the present, rather than dwelling on past events and experiences that cause us anxiety.
A welcome break from a hectic lifestyle
Hobbies are sometimes typecast as being a waste of valuable time or an indulgent obsession. Perhaps it is time to take a fresh look at how they can refresh the mind and the spirit – especially when we are re-adjusting to life after a personal loss or unexpected change of circumstances.
The challenge is to make the time and space that can be allocated specifically toward a hobby as a valuable and restorative practice. Perhaps a positive first step is to take a course or join a club to gain motivation and meet like-minded people. Making the effort may well be the catalyst to greater fulfilment and enjoyment of life.