The Importance of Hobbies on our Mental Health

The Importance of Hobbies on our Mental Health We all know that life can be hectic, especially recently due to the pandemic. We may be working all day, coming home to care for children, running errands, and getting work done around the house. When we do finally get some downtime, many of us resort to laying on the couch and scrolling through our phones or watching T.V. Doing much of anything else can seem too strenuous. While these activities are fine in moderation it is very beneficial to engage in hobbies.

Here are some of the reasons why hobbies are important:

Doing things we enjoy is linked to lower levels of depression. It can be a vicious cycle. We begin to feel down, lose interest in activities we enjoy. The motivation to do anything that requires mental or physical effort decreases. This lack of activity can result in feelings of depression and even lower levels of energy. If you enjoyed certain activities in the past, give them a chance again! Get back out in your garden, pick up those knitting needles or paintbrushes and create something. This will trigger the reward center in your brain and release dopamine. This will cause feelings of happiness, productivity, and motivation to continue. 

Making time with friends or alone time with our partners is great for our social life, but we need more than just quality time. Try to incorporate activities into the quality time you set aside to spend with others. Go to Jazzercise with a friend, start going on jogs with your partner, or engaging in any activity that you both can enjoy doing together. Exercise especially releases endorphins that make us feel better. I have never prioritized exercise and could not possibly imagine it becoming a hobby. Excuses of being either too tired or convinced it would not be enjoyable prevented me from starting a hobby. However, I started jazzercise two months ago and have been having a blast and feeling great! I just had to find something that was right for me. 

We need to begin nourishing our souls. Every one of us is special and unique. We all have different strengths, weaknesses, and preferences. Working, maintaining a home, and scrolling through social media for most of our downtime is not enough for so many people. Engaging in active, productive, and enjoyable activities creates a sense of intimacy with our environment. Doing good feels good and feeling good is such an important part of living! We cannot feel good all the time, but we can choose to participate in activities that embrace our strengths and create a sense of pride. Hobbies are crucial to self-care. 

To start a hobby, start small. 

This can seem overwhelming at first, but just start small! Think about or research activities that would be an option for you and make it a goal to spend just 30 minutes on it this week. This could just be going to the store and getting what you need or doing research online about opportunities near you. Work your time up until engaging in your hobby is a structured part of your regular routine. You deserve it!


About Shelton Piland: 

Shelton is a Resident in Clinical Social Work and provides services at our Fredericksburg location. She graduated from the University of Mary Washington with a B.A. in Sociology. She received her Master’s Degree in Clinical Social Work from Virginia Commonwealth University. Throughout her time at VCU she has worked with elementary, middle school, and high school students in the Spotsylvania Public School system. To learn more about Shelton, visit here.

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