Having a hobby can be a fun and exciting addition to your daily life. Learning a new skill or developing a new interest can do more than just exercise your brain. Studies have shown that healthy hobbies can actually assist in improving your overall mental health. The boost to your mental state helps alleviate conditions like anxiety and depression.
Benefits of Hobbies for Mental Health and Depression
One study regarding hobbies and mental health performed by the American Psychosomatic Society proved significant correlations. The results reflected that participants had lower blood pressure and cortisol levels when they participated in hobbies. Cortisol is one of the body’s main stress hormones.
Lessening cortisol and blood pressure can have positive effects on an individual’s depression and anxiety symptoms. The study also reflected lower waist circumference, body mass index, and better perceptions of physical function. Ultimately, the results confirmed lower depression levels with more hobby activity.
The APA suggests that everyone needs to take breaks for their mental health. When facing a condition like depression, pausing the stresses of life by engaging in healthy hobbies can help improve a person’s depression and overall mood. Taking periodic breaks and focusing on oneself and one’s interests is a great start to a healthier mind.
Additional research for improving mental health suggests that taking small steps and building upon them can help improve and incorporate mental health exercises into your everyday life.
The Best Activities for Depression
Finding a new healthy and beneficial hobby can seem overwhelming, but it doesn’t have to be. You have the freedom to try a variety of different activities and pick what suits you the best. There are so many hobbies out there to choose from that it can be hard to pick just one. Luckily, you don’t have to! You can try as many as you’d like. We have compiled a list of some great activities that can help you improve your depression levels.
Take Up Art
Art has been known as one of the most therapeutic hobbies out there. One study showed that 75% of participants who created art had significantly lower levels of cortisol than at the beginning of the project.
This hobby isn’t just for people who consider themselves “good” at art. The study included some beginner artists who also displayed lower cortisol just as much as experienced artists. Regardless of your artistic skill set, creating art of any kind can help improve your mental health, thus reducing depression. Whether you choose to paint, draw, sculpt, or create another kind of art, these hobbies can positively impact your life.
Spend Time Outside
Gardening is a great hobby to help reduce depression. Not only can you harvest your own food and create beautiful bouquets of flowers, you can also boost your mental health.
Whether you take up hiking or walking, garden flowers or fruits and vegetables, or start taking daily walks, you stand to reap the mental health benefits of being outdoors.
Studies have found that incorporating exercise with treatment has significant effects on depression. You receive a large boost in mood because the act of exercising releases endorphin hormones in the body. These hormones are most commonly known for their “feel good” effect. One study examined the effects of endorphins on depression and found very positive results.
There are many beneficial forms of exercise you can try to find what works best for you. Walking is among the safest and easiest exercises to get started with.
Join a Yoga Class
Yoga is a wonderful activity that gently works your body and trains your mind. Participating in a yoga class with other people is a very beneficial group activity for depression. There are many types of yoga that vary in intensity, so you can find the best fit for your individual needs.
In addition, meditation often goes hand-in-hand with yoga and is a great addition to the hobby. Achieving a calm body and mind for a rounded experience can help reduce depression levels and make managing your condition easier.
Putting pen to paper is a virtually free and easy hobby to help in the treatment of depression. Starting a journal can help you reflect on each day and process your emotions.
Another healthy option for writing is taking up creative writing. Poetry is a beautiful hobby where you can express yourself in new and exciting ways. If poetry isn’t for you, but you want to put that pen to work, try short stories. You can let your imagination flow and build worlds and characters that people only dream of.
It doesn’t matter if you’re writing in a journal, creating personal poems, or developing creative short stories. Writing exercises your brain and creativity which helps with depression treatment.
Seeking Treatment for Depression
As with any mental health condition, it is important to seek proper diagnosis and treatment. The healthy hobbies listed in this article are beneficial to depression but they do not replace treatment altogether. All the activities mentioned above do best when paired with a depression management program.
It is admirable to want to take healthy steps to better your mental health and healthy hobbies are encouraged alongside treatment. Reaching out for help is a courageous step that will be the first of many positive movements toward a brighter and happier future free of depression.
Depression is hard. We said it so you don’t have to. Fortunately, it’s a battle you don’t have to fight alone. While healthy hobbies can help improve your mental health and depression, they work best when combined with treatment. At Alter Behavioral Health, we help you face your depression head-on and back you every step of the way. Some days are harder than others, but we will be there to help you stand tall and overcome every dark day that comes. Our goal is to help you make every day brighter for a happier and healthier future. You deserve a life free of depression, and we want to help make that happen. Call us today at (866) 691-4386.