Did you know that taking up a hobby can help reduce stress? There is actually science behind the benefits of having a hobby. While it may seem like yet another thing to do when your life is already packed full, there are many choices of relaxing hobbies you can pick up that will be good for your health. Here are some of our suggestions:
Crochet and knitting
What used to be brushed aside as a pastime for old people has made a great resurgence in the last couple of years with the younger generation. Perhaps it is the combination of tapping into creativity and being productive, or maybe it is simply a relaxing thing to do. According to a study in the Journal of Neuropsychiatry and Clinical Neurosciences, doing activities like knitting or crocheting “decreases the risk of mild cognitive impairment, a possible precursor to Alzheimer’s Disease and other forms of dementia”. Lower the risk of cognitive impairment plus creating something useful, it’s a win, win!
Baking and cooking
Over the years, mental health experts have found that baking and cooking actually helps people deal with anxiety. A study in the British Journal of Occupational Therapy revealed that baking improves concentration, which leads to increased coordination, which then builds confidence and leads to an increased feeling of self-esteem. A report on the Wall Street Journal also supported this saying that a treatment centre for teens used cooking lessons to help treat mental illness and addiction. It gave them something to focus on instead of the stresses of their day to day lives. It has become a popular mode of therapy because it is goal-oriented.
Black, green, red or blue, no matter what thumb you have, gardening is still one of the best stress relievers around. Not only does it force you to move your body and relax your mind, it is also good for the environment and allows you to grow your own food. It’s like a mega win for everyone. Moderate intensity level of physical activity for 2.5 hours each week is said to reduce the risk of obesity, high blood pressure, type 2 diabetes, osteoporosis, heart disease and more. The Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) considers gardening as moderate intensity level activity. Now is a good time to get your gloves on and start digging.
This may come as a surprise to others but for those who regularly play video games, they would understand. We all went through the age of spending time at the arcade, playing Pacman and Super Mario Brothers during the pre-iPad, pre-Playstation era. Over the years, technology has made gaming a more accessible pastime for everyone. No matter what your preference is – puzzle, simulations, adventure, MMOs, RTS, action, stealth shooter, combat – the fact is studies have shown gaming has valid benefits to your health. According to Psychology Today, gaming improves cognitive flexibility, working memory and abstract reasoning. One study even found that “such play led not just to cognitive improvements but also better self-concepts and enhanced qualities of life in elderly participants”. Another study showed that men and women who play video games long-term actually end up “adopting mental skills to handle stress, become less depressed and get less hostile during stressful tasks”. Whip out your iPad or video console and try out some free games now.