How to Reap the Benefits of Hobbies and Leisure Activities

Exploring the intersection of leisure and well-being, we gathered insights from founders and medical directors on the mental health benefits of hobbies. From the therapeutic qualities of gardening to the cognitive enhancements provided by creative pursuits, here are the top eight benefits these experts highlighted, including practical examples to inspire your own journey towards a healthier mind.

  • Gardening Aids Depression and Anxiety
  • Jogging Combines Exercise and Nature
  • Active Hobbies Offer Essential Breaks
  • Finding Flow Through Personal Passions
  • Woodworking as a Mental Decompression
  • Mindfulness and Meditation for Stress
  • Photography as a Peaceful, Creative Escape
  • Creative Hobbies Enhance Mental Cognition

Gardening Aids Depression and Anxiety

Jacob Coyne, Founder, Stay Here

Jacob Coyne, Founder, Stay Here

As the founder of Stay Here, an organization dedicated to raising mental health awareness and providing resources, I’ve seen firsthand how engaging in hobbies and leisure activities can significantly benefit mental health.

From managing stress to fostering a sense of accomplishment, the therapeutic value of hobbies is immense. One practical example of this is gardening, a hobby that I’ve found to be profoundly beneficial for those dealing with depression and anxiety.

Gardening offers a unique combination of physical activity, connection to nature, and the satisfaction of nurturing growth, all of which can contribute to improved mental well-being. In our work, we’ve encountered numerous stories of individuals finding solace and recovery through their gardens. 

For instance, one person we supported credited gardening with helping them manage chronic depression, citing the routine, the fresh air, and the joy of seeing something grow as key factors in their improvement.

This tangible success story underlines the broader point that hobbies like gardening not only provide a distraction but also facilitate healing and emotional balance.

Jogging Combines Exercise and Nature

Dr. Bryan Bruno, Medical Director, Mid City TMS

Dr. Bryan Bruno, Medical Director, Mid City TMS

Hobbies and leisure activities can have important mental health benefits, as they can help to relieve stress. In particular, activities that involve going outside or getting exercise can boost your mental health. 

An example of a way to get the benefits of both from your hobbies and leisure activities is to go outside for a jog. Exercising is known to release brain chemicals, such as endorphins, that can positively impact your mental state. Similarly, going outdoors can help you to feel less anxious, and regularly spending time in nature has been associated with a decreased risk of depression.

Active Hobbies Offer Essential Breaks

Brett Downes, Founder, Haro Helpers

Brett Downes, Founder, Haro Helpers

As the owner of a new business that is in growth, it can be dangerously easy to throw all your time into it and burn yourself out. You want to see your business succeed, and you will do anything to make sure that it does, but not taking time for leisure and hobbies is doing a disservice to your business because always staying switched on can greatly impact your mental health negatively.

It’s not about wanting a break; it’s about needing one. If we don’t take time to recharge, then we are only going to make our mental health worse.

There is no right answer to what that relaxation looks like, but I advise it being something more active that fully takes your mind away from work. You almost want it to be all-encompassing so that your brain is getting the needed break from the day job. For me, that is golf, but for others, it can be the gym, swimming, gaming, or anything else. The key is making sure it’s something you enjoy.

Finding Flow Through Personal Passions

Connor Ondriska, Co-founder & CEO, SpanishVIP

Connor Ondriska, Co-founder & CEO, SpanishVIP

Hobbies and leisure activities can enhance our overall well-being by promoting a sense of accomplishment and fulfillment. When we engage in activities we are passionate about, whether it’s painting, playing a musical instrument, gardening, or any other hobby, we tap into a state of flow where we are fully immersed and absorbed in the present moment.

This sense of flow can bring about a state of deep satisfaction and boost self-esteem, contributing to improved mental well-being.

To illustrate this, let’s take the example of cleaning my old bicycle. While it may seem like a mundane task, approaching it with a mindset of appreciation can have profound effects on mental health.

By recognizing the bike’s significance and the role it has played in my life, cleaning it becomes an act of gratitude and care. This shift in perspective not only enhances the enjoyment of the activity but also cultivates a sense of mindfulness and appreciation that can extend to other areas of life.

This example highlights how engaging in even seemingly trivial hobbies or activities can promote a positive mindset, foster a sense of appreciation, and contribute to overall mental well-being.

Woodworking as a Mental Decompression

Vincent Iachetta Jr., President, Peppermonkey Media

Balancing work and life, I’ve discovered the immense mental health benefits of hobbies. Engaging in leisure activities provides a break from routine and fosters personal growth. Hobbies let us tap into our passions, honing our skills and strengths.

Take woodworking—a hobby of mine—for example. It’s not just enjoyable; it teaches patience, problem-solving, and the joy of crafting by hand. Essentially, woodworking is my way to decompress and refresh, significantly enhancing my mental well-being.

Mindfulness and Meditation for Stress

Eugene Klimaszewski, President, Mammoth Security

Eugene Klimaszewski, President, Mammoth Security

Mindfulness and meditation transformed my stress management and outlook. Mindfulness keeps you present, enhances self-awareness, and helps control emotions. Meditation calms the mind, reduces anxiety, and sharpens focus.

From personal experience, these practices have revolutionized stress management and emotional balance, supported by research.

Incorporate them into your daily life, even for a few minutes, for substantial benefits. They minimize stress, improve emotional well-being, and promote calm. Try it, and you’ll discover a powerful tool for a better quality of life. Start with one mindful breath.

Photography as a Peaceful, Creative Escape

Andrew Van Noy, Founder & CEO, DeepPower, Inc.

Andrew Van Noy, Founder & CEO, DeepPower, Inc.

One significant benefit of hobbies is their ability to reduce stress and anxiety by focusing the mind on tasks that are enjoyable and fulfilling rather than on work-related challenges. This shift in focus promotes relaxation and can improve overall mental health, increasing productivity and creativity when returning to work.

For me, photography has been a hobby that offers a profound sense of peace and presence. Capturing the intricate beauty of nature through the lens allows me to step away from the complexities of developing geothermal drilling technology. It’s a practice that rejuvenates my mental energy and enhances my appreciation for the natural world we aim to protect through our work.

This hobby reinforces the importance of sustainability, reminding me and my team why we’re committed to advancing renewable energy. Engaging in photography has taught me to observe the world with patience and attention to detail, skills that are invaluable in both my personal and professional life.

Creative Hobbies Enhance Mental Cognition

Lucas Ochoa, Founder & CEO, Automat

Lucas Ochoa, Founder & CEO, Automat

You can use your brain in new ways, which means you promote mental cognition and creativity! When you have a hobby, you’re actively using your mind, often in different ways than you do at work or in daily life. Trying new things is great for your brain because it creates new pathways.

The more you use these new pathways, the stronger they become. Hobbies can also keep your brain in good shape. Some activities, like playing musical instruments, can help with memory. Others, like puzzles, might protect against dementia. 

Take art, for example. I mean all kinds of creative activities—painting, drawing, sculpting, embroidery, woodworking, and more. Any hobby you choose can have real mental health benefits.

Art allows you to express your emotions and be creative. It can be a way to deal with difficult issues that are hard to talk about. This is something often used in art therapy. Art can also reduce stress and boost your self-confidence.

You don’t have to be great at painting to enjoy it. There’s no standard you have to meet. The important thing is that you enjoy what you’re doing.

Last Updated on by kalidaspandian

Author

Mehar Jolly
  1. I enjoyed reading about various perspectives from heads of companies on their take on how to overcome stress and enhance mental health. What struck me is they all pointed towards active hobbies, and most importantly these hobbies are known to increase mind and body connection. Take for example photography. Other than learning to use all the buttons and tools of a DSLR camera, you also have to get creative and learn through trial and error to snap a shot that delights you. What an excellent process completing the positive loop of breaking away from torpor, engaging in positive learning habits, and ultimately feeling a sense of accomplishment through your creative output.

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