How a hobby can enhance your life and health

Ever heard of healing with hobbies? Here's how the hidden power of hobbies can help relieve the symptoms of stress, grief and more.

Coping with the stresses of life or coming to terms with grief and loss can be overwhelming and sometimes debilitating. While the cliché of ‘time healing all wounds’ does hold some truth, it is important to know there are pro-active strategies for overcoming challenging times and getting your life back on track.

Healthy diet, regular exercise, proper sleep and stimulating social connections are all important, but another beneficial approach is to engage in a hobby. Our ancestors enjoyed the healing value of creative pursuits, because activities such as sewing, knitting and woodwork were more of a necessity than a pastime.

Nowadays computers and televisions dominate our leisure time and their passive and sedentary nature can be a hindrance to our mental wellbeing. Taking up a craft or hobby can be a very practical and positive way to restore balance to our lives.
There are a scope of things you never had the time to try, or have always wanted to do, that can easily become a hobby

Can hobbies induce positive physiological changes?
Performing a task that engages the mind in a focused and creative way may naturally seem like it would induce a beneficial response, but is there any hard evidence for this assumption? One study quoted in the Journal of the American Medical Association analysed 30 women who sewed as a hobby.

Their stress responses, such as blood pressure, heart rate, perspiration rate and skin temperature were measured before and after various leisure activities. The results, when they were sewing, produced measurable improvements in the stress indicators, compared with increased stress responses when they engaged in other pastimes, such as playing cards or video games.

One theory is that hobbies and crafts – especially those which require repetitive and rhythmic activities - can actually induce a relaxation response that improves psychological and physical wellbeing.

Perhaps this is due to the ‘grounding’ effect they have on us. Regularly performing something that engages our creativity and concentration can bring our minds into the present and reduce the tendency to project negatively into the future or dwell on painful past events.

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The creative process of painting, dancing, cooking or gardening can be very absorbing and rewarding with various opportunities for all levels

A healing and wholesome therapy
While the hustle and bustle of modern life may have typecast some hobbies and crafts as simply being a last resort for boredom or an unnecessary time-waster, the reality is that they may well be a primary vehicle for reclaiming a sense of purpose, wellness and recovery from life’s traumas.

Rather than marginalising it, why not make the time and space in your life to dedicate to a craft as a way of restoring balance and contentment. Take a course at a community centre or join a craft club can be a great way to get you kickstarted. Make sure you then have a regular time set aside at home, (daily if possible), and have a set space devoted to your craft or hobby. Open your mind to the possibilities and you too can reap the benefits of healing with hobbies. 

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