Mental Health and Emotional Wellness Are Important
Mental health has become increasingly important as there’s been an alarming increase in the number of people diagnosed with mental health disorders. According to the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH), 1 in 5 adults live with a moderate to severe mental health condition.
Mental health is more than just the absence of psychiatric disorders. According to the US Department of Health and Human Services, mental health is our overall emotional, psychological, and social well-being. It is a state of well-being that affects how we think, feel, and act.
Mental health affects how we deal with stress, anxiety, and everyday problems. It influences how we think, learn, interact with others, collaborate in groups, and contribute to society.
When our mental health is at its best, we can work productively, collaborate with other people, and be proactive team members of society. We can get along well with others, set healthy boundaries, accomplish goals, and realize our potential. When we think and feel at our best, then we can give others our best.
Factors That Affect Our Mental Health
Many factors contribute to our mental health. Some of the things that can affect our mental health include:
- Genetic predisposition
- Family history
- Biological factors such as brain chemistry
- Childhood experiences such as trauma and abuse
- Lifestyle choices such as diet, physical activity, substance abuse, and sleep
Mental Health Affects Our Physical Health
Our mental health can affect our physical health. Poor mental health can increase your risk of developing type II diabetes, heart disease, and stroke.
Finding time to meditate, practice yoga, or devote some time to practice gratitude can lower your blood pressure, heart rate, and anxiety levels.
Our minds and body are connected and how we think and feel can affect our physical body. It is just as important to take care of our mental health as it is to our physical health.
Maintaining Good Mental Health
There are many things that we can do to take care of our mental health. We can maintain and improve our mental health and emotional well-being by:
- Staying Positive
- Practicing Gratitude
- Eating Healthy
- Getting Good Quality Sleep
- Being Physically Active
- Connecting With Others
- Relaxation Techniques
- Participating In Hobbies
Hobbies and Their Importance
Hobbies are important for our mental and emotional well-being because it allows us to relax and can help improve our mood, confidence, and self-esteem.
When we enjoy doing our hobbies, it engages our minds and can help us improve our skill set. It gives us time to “check out” from life’s responsibilities and tasks.
I think that it’s important for people to maintain their hobbies as they age and go through life events.
In another blog post, I wrote about how moms can often go through an identity crisis after becoming new moms and going through motherhood. It’s not uncommon for women to give up their whole identity and give everything that they can to their children.
When your children are very young, it’s almost necessary because they need a lot of your time and attention. But as your kids get older and become more independent, I think it’s not only healthy but necessary for women to have hobbies and interests that they enjoy doing outside of just being a parent.
Hobbies can be a way to identify yourself. It makes you unique to who you are and shows that you are more than just who you are.
Having lifelong hobbies and skills is also part of healthy aging. After your kids grow and leave the nest, you’ll want to have some hobbies to fill your leisure time and make life more enjoyable and pleasant.
Adjusting My Hobbies
Some of the hobbies that I enjoyed before having kids were working out, exercising, running, gardening, and cooking. Although I don’t go to the gym and dedicate 90 minutes to an extensive workout routine, I have found other ways to incorporate my hobby into my new lifestyle.
Instead of running at the gym, I walk with my kids around the park and our neighborhood. Although it’s not as an intense 30-minute run, it’s still a cardiovascular workout and I can get a good sweat from it. I’ll take that over not working out at all.
My husband used to be an avid basketball player in his younger days. He would play at the park or the gym with friends a few times a week. But now that he’s older, his knees are weaker and he’s more prone to injuries and so he’s laid off the basketball. Instead, he walks with me and the kids and golfs. Although his physical activity level is not as intense as it was before playing a contact sport, he’s been able to shift his hobby from one sport to another to keep himself active and healthy.
Adjusting Your Hobbies Throughout Your Lifetime
If you’re not able to keep up with the same physical activity level as before, you can still do it in moderation or try out a new sport. Don’t let any physical limitations hinder you from being active at all. Perhaps you could walk, pick up table tennis, or try a new hobby instead.
The point that I’m trying to make is that if you can’t continue with a previous hobby due to some limiting abilities, you can always find another one.
Just don’t let your limitations limit you from doing something and turn you into a potato.
Do something that sparks your soul and lights you up. Do something that brings you joy and makes you happy.
You Continue To Grow And Evolve As A Person Through Your Hobbies
Whether you decide to take on a new hobby to learn some new skills, you are challenging your mind and body to grow and evolve as you learn.
And if you stick with an old hobby that you’re familiar with, you are refining your skills and improving your craft.
If you enjoy baking and have mastered making delicious cupcakes and cakes for your family, now you can challenge yourself to make fun cake pops. It’s still baking but something new for you in that.
Challenging Yourself To Learn New Hobbies Is Good For Your Brain Health
As you’re partaking in your hobbies, you want them to be fun, stimulating, and slightly challenging. You don’t want them to be too hard that it’s not enjoyable and you give up too quickly. But you also don’t want it to be boring and mundane.
You want your hobbies to be engaging enough to keep you interested and slightly challenging enough to keep those neuronal networks firing.
As we age, although we’re not creating new neural networks, it is still good to keep whatever connections we have sharp and strong. This is important for making connections, decisions, and our overall brain health.
Hobbies Can Be A Source Of Stress Relief
Hobbies are activities that we do in our leisure time. It is something that we enjoy doing to help us relax and can be a form of stress relief and self-care.
When you’re engaged in your hobbies, it can be a time for you to relax and get your mind off of your worries. It’s a moment for you to tune out of life’s problems.
For anyone who’s played sports, you know how much attention and focus being in a game takes. If you’re playing basketball or tennis, you can’t take your eyes off the ball. Your focus is on the ball and the game and making the right moves. You don’t have a second to let your mind wander about work, problems at home, or anything else. It’s a great way for you to get your mind off of things temporality and allow you to focus on something else.
When we engage in a hobby that we’re good at, it can help to build our self-confidence and make us feel good about ourselves. After we feel good accomplishing our hobbies, we can return to live’s demands and attack them with a sense of determination.
Hobbies Help Us Connect With Other People And Build A Community
Hobbies are a fantastic way for us to meet other people and grow our social network.
As we get older, it may be more difficult to meet new people and make new friends.
We get so busy working, shuttling our kids to and from events, coming home, preparing dinner, and just getting ready for the next day. It can be a challenge to form new friendships.
By engaging in hobbies, we can find and meet new people who may have a similar interest as us. There are opportunities to meet others in exercise groups, dance classes, and music lessons. We can join forums and discussions and share ideas. We can give advice about how to bake something better or paint something smoother.
Hobbies are a pathway that allows us to connect with other people. And having strong connections and friendships is important for our mental health and emotional well-being as we age and get older.
Finding the Time for Hobbies
Finding the time for hobbies can be challenging but it is possible. Even if you’re a busy parent or work a lot, there are ways to incorporate learning a new hobby into your life. You may just have to get more organized with your time and make time for it.
I know you’re thinking that I am already so busy with work, school, laundry, and shuttling the kids to soccer practice and swim lessons.
How am I going to find the time for a hobby for myself?
You may just have to look at your week on a calendar and see where you have some leisure time to schedule a hobby. You’re going to have to budget your calendar and time just like how you budget your finances.
When asked to look at their weekly schedule and evaluate how busy some people are, a lot of people use their downtime doing things unproductively like checking email, scrolling through social media or just lounging.
By being mindful of your time and schedule in your “hobby time,” you may be less inclined to have downtime where you’re not doing anything that is useful, productive or conducive to your growth.
Maybe you’ll only have time for your hobby once a week for 15 minutes. That’s okay. You can still learn something new in 15 minutes. And it will be your time that you get to yourself. Consider a form of self-care.
What Kind of Hobbies Should I Partake In?
There are numerous hobbies that you can engage in. Some hobbies can be:
- Cooking and learning a new recipe
- Exploring new cultures and learning a new language or traditional dance
- Music and learning a new instrument or taking voice lessons
- Joining a club and participating in a sport
- Joining a local exercise team or workout class
- Reading a book
- Participating in a chess club
- Doing a word search, word puzzle, or playing Scrabble
The list of hobbies is endless. If there was an old hobby that you enjoyed as a child, you could pick it back up again. Muscle memory may serve you well and you may be just as good at is as when you were younger.
Or perhaps there was something that you always wanted to try but never got around to doing. This is the green light for you to give your hobby a try.
You deserve some time to enjoy your hobby as a form of self-care and protect your mental health. I truly believe that if you take care of your mental and physical health, you will be a happier and more productive person in society and just a better person in general. You have more to give back to the community and the continuum continues and the community benefits as a whole.
Don’t neglect your interests, pursue your passions, and engage in your hobbies. You deserve it for you.