• It’s important you make time for your hobbies, as partaking in your favorite activities is vital to stress management, social connection, and your overall happiness.
  • When you engage in an activity you enjoy, you release a neurotransmitter called dopamine, which makes you feel good!
  • Additionally, your hobbies provide you with a creative outlet and work to improve your self-confidence.
  • Getting involved in something you enjoy and care about is also an effective action you can take in your fight against depressive thoughts and feelings.
  • Ultimately, it doesn’t matter what the activity is—as long as you’re engaging in something you truly enjoy, you’ll reap the benefits.

American culture focuses deeply on being productive. It has fostered a very strong on-the-go type of lifestyle for many. Many individuals are working full-time, maintaining a home, raising children perhaps, or even caring for their aging parents. With all of these responsibilities the thing or person that falls wayside is one’s self. Hobbies and interests are pertinent to stress management, enhancing and maintaining connectedness to others, and overall joy.

Bountiful Benefits

When one partakes in an activity they enjoy, the release of dopamine occurs causing happiness. Hobbies can…

  • Provide a creative outlet
  • Foster social interaction
  • Help promote new relationships
  • Increase self-confidence

They are also a great way to rediscover topics and causes that you are passionate about and that are important to you. By getting involved in something you enjoy and care about, you give yourself the opportunity to feel a deep sense of satisfaction with yourself, which will enhance your self-acceptance and self-love. You may even find yourself more productive and successful in your personal and professional goals. Allowing yourself to be involved in things you love improves self-esteem, self-confidence, and the desire to maintain a work-life balance. And an added benefit—it also exposes you to new people, so if you are in search for more social support, getting involved is a great method to meet new people.

An Ally Against Depression

When one is in the depths of depression, a common symptom known as anhedonia will impact someone’s ability to enjoy the activities they used to enjoy. Depression also leads to isolating behaviors, which leaves one feeling withdrawn, cut off, and inadequate perhaps. Part of combatting depression is to implement those activities you used to enjoy and start to pull yourself out of the heaviness of the depression. By engaging in the activity, you will be exposed to people again, which then helps alleviate feelings of loneliness. Hobbies also help alleviate anxiety and stress by placing you in the moment. When fully engaged in an activity, it helps to calm the chatter in the anxious and overwhelmed mind and places the individual in the here and now.

Make it Meaningful

Finding the hobbies and activities that best fit you can be a fun and exciting journey. I often encourage clients to use services like Groupon to discover new things they would want to try. Your hobbies don’t have to look any certain type of way. If painting, drawing, needle point, or sculpting are your thing then do it. If you prefer something more physical—running, hiking, kickboxing, Zumba, or yoga—great, do it! Physical activities are known to specifically enhance the release of dopamine to enhance one’s mental health. If your passion lies in volunteer work, or collecting comic books, antiques, whatever, go for it! Are you an avid reader? Terrific, join a book club at your local library. The actual hobby itself is less important than the meaning the hobby has to you! Make it meaningful, make it fun, and make it yours!

*Tara Arhakos is a licensed professional counselor and nationally certified counselor in private practice, with experience in work-life balance, anxiety and stress management, and self-esteem building.*