Having something you're passionate about is a necessity. I know some people think of excitement & things we do for pleasure as luxuries. But, the reality is that hobbies improve mental health.
Are there more important things to worry about? Of course.
We need a roof over our heads & food in our bellies. We need to feel like we aren't on guard at all hours of the day. But, we also need to feel like we are feeding our souls — like we are growing as individuals & learning new things. We need to feel in control of at least some things & need to see progression & have those “little wins” on a regular basis or we will feel down-in-the-dumps.
We need something to drive us on our good days & something to aspire toward on our … not so good days. 😉 It's a fact, y'all. There's no way around that. So, if you need an excuse to pursue that new thing, keep these things in mind.
1). Hobbies improve mental health by feeding your soul.
I am a stay-at-home mom & love it. But being at home all the time, serving my family also means that a lot of my day-to-day is caught up in what I am to them. I am a wife. I am a mother. I am the keeper of the house — though, I suck at being domestic. :/ (That's, perhaps, a separate story! Ha.) I pay the bills & submit our taxes & do the grocery shopping. I am doing things for the good of our family.
It's a rewarding job to have. And our daughter doesn't have to have a stranger take care of her… And we don't have to pay for that stranger to care for her. BUT, none of these things really nurture ME.
I am in charge of nurturing our family, but the “position” doesn't necessarily nurture me — unless I make it a priority to also nurture me.
Do you know that saying about how you can't pour from an empty cup? Well, having hobbies improves mental health by filling your cup.
Talk about rewarding! I feel good doing all of these things. And, if I don't, it's a sign I've ventured of my path.
I get to help other people feel confident & less alone. I help women feel beautiful in whatever skin God gave them. And, I help home-based business owners use words to market themselves. I help people & get rewarded for it through website visits, email subscriptions, commission, & actual cash money. 😉 Plus, every single one of these hobbies gives me the opportunity to be a part of a larger community of people doing similar things as me.
I feel like I am growing as a person, as a wife & mother, & as a home-business owner. All of those things, combined, help me help more people — including my family who I get to nurture every day.
2). Hobbies improve mental health by giving an outlet.
Through blogging, I get to share the inner-workings of my brain. I get to purge my chaotic thoughts & turn them into something more cohesive.
Sometimes, as right here, I blog about mental health & life & God & family. I like it because it gives me a release. I feel less like a crazy, messed up person & more like someone who is rationally learning healthy coping mechanisms & sharing them with others. Like, maybe you will benefit from what I have already learned, y'know?
My affiliate marketing & writing products & services let me share what I know & love (cruelty-free skincare & cosmetics; how to string words together in ways that accomplish your goal). And, not only do I get to help others by sharing these products & services, I also get the chance to earn an income.
I feel useful to my family. I feel like I am relieving some of the “bread-winning” burden from my husband. I get to bolster my confidence by feeling more self-sufficient & useful & knowledgeable in a way that builds other people up.
And, when I just need to blow off the whole world? The simple hobby of playing a computer game gives me that outlet too. (I am in love with The Sims 4.)
3). Hobbies improve mental health by providing what you didn't know you needed.
The handsome husband & I were talking the other day about how WEIRD it is that we are still left wanting MORE after life has afforded us so much. Like, how can we not always feel happy even though we have LITERALLY prayed for everything we have now.
I remember sitting in my cold car in the middle of the night, praying for a life like the one I have now. I longed for a life that didn't require me to get up & go to work every single day to a job I had convinced myself I loved. I prayed for an actual home — not just a place to sleep for the night. I prayed for someone to love me unconditionally, despite — or maybe even because of all of my flaws & the things I can't stand about myself.
At one point, I prayed for a beautiful baby — a child created with my handsome husband.
I prayed to have the confidence & creativity to write on a daily basis — & to put it out into the world on a blog that I learned how to set up & run myself! I've prayed for home ownership & not having to worry about having more month than money to get through it. And, I've prayed for a life where eating out was a luxury instead of the only way I could eat — from the dollar menu, one item at a time to get by.
There's SO MUCH I've prayed for that I try my damnedest NOT to take for granted now.
I have come a long way. My husband & I have come a long way.
So, why do I feel like I need so much more — even when there was a HUGE part of me that NEVER thought I would be where I am now?
I've wondered this, but I've realized recently that it really boils down to science.
Ha! I know, right? Who would've thunk I'd be trying to explain something scientific? But, really, it's about every human's hierarchy of needs. And, it's not just science, it's human nature. It explains our desires & it explains, so well, the reason why hobbies improve mental health by giving us what we need…
Picture a triangle horizontally divided into five separate parts. In fact, you don't even have to picture it; I've taken the time to create a graphic for you:
At the bottom of the pyramid are BASIC needs. First are physical needs like having enough oxygen to breathe, food to eat, & water to drink, followed by safety needs like shelter & employment & a sense of security. These needs have to be met in that order. And, if they aren't met, our desires center, largely, around meeting these needs. It might be basic, but this is why dumpster diving for food doesn't bring forth disgust or fear about diseases; if you're hungry, you're hungry & you will do what you need in order to fulfill that need.
After basic needs comes psychological needs. Many of us are driven by some of these needs because we haven't yet found ways to satisfy them. These are things like feeling loved & part of a community somehow. Feeling a connection to other humans through friendship &/or family is a psychological need. And, once some of these love-related needs are met, you start to have esteem needs that you desire: things like growing your confidence (sound familiar?) or prestige & being respected by your peers & neighbors.
And, the thing is, the more needs you satsify, the more you become aware of the needs higher up on the pyramid hierarchy. This is why, when our basic needs are satisfied & we are safe & fed & clothed, we start seeking out more chances to socialize & be part of a group & better self-confidence for our day-to-day lives. And, even moreso, the more our confidence grows & we feel connected to others, the more we examine our purpose in life & what is really “right” & “wrong” to us.
It explains our very real NEED to find fulfillment. And hobbies are part of that fulfillment. They can fill so many of the needs on this pyramid.
And that's why hobbies improve mental health on so many levels.
What other ways can you think of that hobbies improve mental health?