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Focus on These Hobbies for Mental Health

Life is a lot to juggle sometimes, and the idea of a hobby seems preposterous. However, it turns out finding the time in your life to pursue a passion, or creating space to take up a hobby, can have incredible mental health benefits regardless of your age. Our careers don’t have to be the only source of meaning in our lives, as hobbies can help us find our happy places.

Do Some Dancing

Dancing as a hobby allows us to express ourselves, provides physical movement, and allows us to move into our flow state. Dancing for seniors, especially those in addiction recovery, has been shown to increase energy levels, provide greater flexibility, and increase awareness of their internal and external experiences. “Movement-based therapies help them become aware of what they can and cannot control,” says yoga therapist Emma Barton, “addicts learn to be present in the moment through the process of movement.”

Become a Rock Star

Did you know learning to play an instrument has been shown to increase brainpower? According to, musical training (or simply learning to play a new instrument) can strengthen our bonds with others, strengthen our memory and reading skills, increase our blood flow in the brain, and reduce stress and depression, among other beneficial things. Are you too shy to play in front of others? The internet offers myriad opportunities to learn to play an instrument from the comfort of your home. Keep at it and you’ll be ready for your own house concert in no time.

Research Your Family History

Genealogy is big business with online subscription sites, but discovering hidden historical nuggets about your family can be as easy as calling your favorite third cousin. Most libraries have extensive genealogy departments and are helpful free resources, but there are a multitude of online services that can help you hone in on family history for a fee. Becoming an amateur genealogist takes investigative work, challenges you to listen and dig in, and may eventually offer some good insight into your family’s medical history. Creating family scrapbooks, or heritage books, can also be a fun way to tie in all of your new-found information.

Grow a Garden

Getting your hands dirty exposes you to vitamin D, the same vitamin found in sunshine. It has been shown that gardening for just 30 minutes can enhance your mood and decrease stress. Don’t have a giant yard or garden to cultivate your plants? Try a small container garden in a sunny spot at your place. Don’t have a green thumb? Challenge yourself to start with succulents or shade-friendly plants such as a paradise palm or a snake plant. A window-sill herb garden can also be rewarding, both while you’re growing your herbs and once you incorporate them into your cooking. Try basil, mint, or oregano.

Start a New Career

After developing new skills and hobbies, you may want to take things further by finding ways to implement your passions into your work life. The best way to do this is to start a new career in a lucrative field you’re interested in like IT or nursing. While it may seem intimidating to go back to school, online college programs make this easier than ever. Online universities allow students to study anytime, anywhere, and at their own pace. Once you’ve graduated, you can polish your resume with your new degree and start work in a career you’re passionate about.

Hobbies can help you feel happier and healthier at any age, whether you’re moving your body or challenging your brain with learning a new hands-on skill. Hobbies can connect us with like-minded people who share our passions, introduce us to new things, or reduce stress, allowing us to stay present and in the zone.

Jennifer McGregor is based in Grandville MI. She is a pre-med student who enjoys writing about health and medical topics and providing reliable health and medical resources for Public Health Library users.

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