Guest blog: Hobbies for Health and Happiness


Hobbies: for Health and Happiness

By Jennifer Scott

1.jpg

Photo Credit: Pixabay.com

 Being well means more than eating the right foods and working out three times a week. Whole health comes, in part, from simply taking the time to do the things we love. Participating in hobbies offers numerous mental, physical, and social benefits that can’t be accomplished doing the things you’re obligated to. Huff Post contributor Alan Kohll reports that leisure activities can even boost your job performance and keep your heart in tip-top shape.

Hobbies boost labor and school performance

While painting a picture isn’t quite the same as relaxing on the beach for a week, engaging in a hobby has a similar effect on the brain. Taking the time to relax doing something you love helps your body – and mind – reboot. Trying something new has the additional benefit of challenging your brain, which forces you to learn something new. And as with vacationing, taking a mini break by participating in organized fun may boost your performance at work and at school. A 2016 study published in the Public Library of Science found that students regularly involved in after-school hobbies (art, team sports, individual sports) were more than twice as likely to demonstrate above-average academic achievement. Inc. reports the effects are similar in adults. Employees involved in creative pursuits tend to perform up to 30% better in the workplace than their do-nothing-but-rest coworkers.

Hobbies improve mental health

Dr. Mark D. Parisi, a psychologist based out of Chicago, is an advocate of hobbies in the treatment of mental health disorders. Dr. Parisi notes that hobbies provide a host of benefits where it comes to mental health. These include stress reduction, mood improvement, an opportunity to forge new friendships through positive social interactions, and better long- and short-term memory. Hobbies are additionally associated with feeling happy, which can have a profound effect on those suffering from depression.

Best hobbies for overall health

There is really no bad hobby. But, there are a few that offer more positive benefits than others.

  • Dancing combines both physical activity and mental stimulation. People who dance must learn to coordinate their movements to music and/or their partner’s actions.
  • You don’t have to have a culinary degree in order to enjoy time spent in the kitchen. From learning how to make the perfect poached egg to composing a nutritionally-balanced weekly meal plan, cooking and baking are activities that engage the mind while producing tangible results from your efforts.
  • Not only does garden soil contain microbes that have a significant effect on your mood, but growing your own garden can boost your self-esteem by allowing you the opportunity to nurture something from nothing.
  • There is something satisfying about planning a trip and watching your expectations come to life at each destination. Immersion in new cultures will help you shift your perspective and possibly discover something new about yourself.
  • Playing music. While learning a new instrument as an adult may seem like a daunting task, there is evidence to prove that it’s an undertaking worth the effort. Live Science recently reported that something as simple as plucking out a few chords can reduce the signs of depression and anxiety while decreasing heart rate and lowering blood pressure.

Safety first

Regardless of which hobby you choose, don’t get so involved that you put yourself at risk. Your safety and that of those around you should be your number one priority. For instance, if you are cooking, make sure to have a functional fire alarm; when gardening, take care using electric or gas-powered tools. And, as with any new exercise routine, ease into dancing, running, jogging, and other physical activities or you’ll risk muscle strain or more significant injuries. Remember, the point of a hobby is to reduce stress – not add to it by watching hospital bills mount up.

Advertisements

Guest Blog: Tips For Building A Healthier, Happier Life After A Major Move


By Jennifer Scott

woman-1892173_1920.jpg

Big changes in life can bring on stress and anxiety, even if the changes are for the best. Major life transitions like moving may related to a new job, relocating to be close to family, or ending a stressful or toxic relationship. Even if there are some negative components to the big changes ahead, this can be a great opportunity to embrace new, positive habits and take steps to ensure that your home is a healthy, happy, and stress-free one.

Flexibility and activity can make transitions less stressful

No matter how hard you work at anticipating issues related to a major life transition, hiccups are bound to pop up. Forbes notes that it is important to remain as flexible
as possible heading into big changes and allow yourself some grace when things feel difficult. Planning ahead and anticipating issues can go a long way toward ensuring a smooth transition, but it can become quite stressful if you do not allow for some changes
in plans along the way.

One great way to reduce stress and adjust to big transitions is to make an effort to incorporate regular exercise throughout the process. Colorado State University’s College of Health & Human Services details that exercise is essential in reducing issues related to depression, addiction, and stress. Adjusting to a new home can be taxing, but the need for physical activity can be a great excuse to get out and explore your new area. You’ll make new connections, discover new places nearby, and reap the benefits of exercise all at the same time.

Embrace strategies for clearing your mind to reduce stress

Creating a happy and stress-free home may sound like an impossible task when you are in the midst of major life transitions. However, taking a few minutes a day for yourself where you focus on positive actions can lead to lasting healthy, positive habits. For example, meditation can be a valuable outlet for relieving stress and developing coping mechanisms for leading a happier life.

Reader’s Digest indicates that the majority of people who try meditation see a reduction in their stress levels and many also see improvements in their relationships and overall wellbeing. Getting up a few minutes earlier in the morning to start the day off with some simple meditation techniques can set a peaceful tone for the day and many people find it helpful to create a special spot or nook in their home specifically for this self care time.

Focus on clearing out clutter to create a healthy environment

Apartment Therapy shares some simple suggestions that can pack a significant punch in creating healthy habits to make your home a positive place. Rather than rush around amid chaos before rushing out the door, take a few minutes to put everything in its place, make the bed, and so on. The minimal effort this takes on a regular basis will bring about calm and reduce your stress.

Mother Earth Living reinforces the idea that reducing clutter can help to make a home a stress-free and happy one. If you are facing a big move, as overwhelming as it may be, take the time at your old place to pare down and clear out what you don’t truly need. As you embrace your new home, remember that oftentimes less is more and keeping things open and clutter-free in your new space has a big impact on reducing stress.

There is no doubt that major life transitions like moving can escalate issues related to addiction, stress and depression. At the same time, a change like this provides the perfect opportunity to ditch bad habits and embrace new ones. Look for opportunities to clear out unwanted clutter and issues of anxiety when you move by keeping things clean and making time for self care activities like exercise and meditation. Build up the positives associated with your big change and embrace the fresh start ahead that can set you up for a happier, healthier life.

[Image via Pixabay]