We’ve written a lot in the past about how looking good can help you feel better, and now we’ve received this very informative post from Maria Cannon, an avid hobbyist who has found inner peace by taking up quilting and other activities that inject extra meaning into her life.

Between work and our personal lives, it can seem like there isn’t much time for anything else in life. Add the easy distractions of the internet, streaming TV, and smart phones, and there’s even less time. However, taking a little time out per week to dedicate to a hobby can have a significant impact on your mental health. Hobbies can help you think more creatively, make new friends, and cope with stress. But those aren’t the only ways a new hobby can help with your mental health…

Hobbies Give You a Sense of Structure and Boundaries

When your mind and body are idle, it is easy to get bogged down in negative thoughts. While the brain definitely needs downtime, involving yourself in a hobby gives you a healthy way to be idle. Unlike vegging out in front of the TV, hobbies provide structure and purpose in life.

If work or personal problems plague you and you come home to an empty evening, it’s easy to use that time to worry, obsess, or overwork. Distracting yourself with a healthy hobby prevents you from doing these things. Hobbies help you create boundaries in your life so you can live more in the moment.

Hobbies Pry You Away from Your Screens

You may think you’re “relaxing” while you binge watch Netflix, but the truth is people who do so are twice as likely to have insomnia or feel fatigued. Humans are much more invigorated by active leisure– like a hobby. Doing something that challenges you and absorbs your attention helps you practice mindfulness.

Hobbies such as art, sewing and woodworking can help reduce anxiety, alleviates depression, and can even help people treat substance use disorders. On the other hand, spending too much time in front of the TV, tablet, or smartphone can impair your cognitive and dopamine functions.

Hobbies Help You Foster Relationships

Not every hobby is a group activity, but many of them will involve you in new communities full of people with similar interests. According to the Mental Health Foundation, forming new bonds and friendships help people protect their mental health. They are a key component for being happy and feeling meaning in life.

Even if your hobby doesn’t involve group interaction, it can give you something to talk about with new people and in other social situations. This helps you feel more confident and can prevent social anxiety. People like being around others who show passion, curiosity, and a desire to expand their horizons. Pursuing a hobby that intrigues you helps you become one of those people.

Hobbies Help You Cope with Stress

When you struggle with mental illness, just getting through the day can feel like a battle. With that kind of mental and physical exhaustion, you may be tempted to come home, veg out, or go to sleep. However, if you instead channel your remaining energy into something for yourself, you help rebuild your confidence and teach yourself that you are bigger than your illness.

Your mental health is directly impacted by your self-perception. Doing something you enjoy and taking care of yourself can help pull yourself out of a negative pit.

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Mental illness affects about 1.43 million Americans. From depression to substance abuse, the symptoms of mental illness don’t just impact the subject, they affect everyone around them. Adopting a hobby in your life can help you treat and handle your mental illness. They give you a sense of structure in your life and help you create healthy boundaries between work and your personal life. They help you spend less time in front of the TV, computer, tablet, and smartphone. You meet new people and have an easier time with social situations; but most of all they help you deal with the constant stress and negative feelings.

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