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What’s your hobby? – Studies prove hobbies boost mental health

Posted on 10-21-2015 Posted in Behavioral Health, Mental Health - 0 Comments

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In her book “Overwhelmed: Work, Love and Play When No One Has Time,” author and Washington Post contributor Brigid Schulte speaks to the fast-paced, work-oriented schedule many have adopted. She denotes the phrase “I’m too busy” as a modern-day badge of honor that indicates importance and virtue. While this may hold true in the digital age, research indicates hobbies as key markers of overall health and wellbeing.

A study carried out in Norway for the Norwegian University of Science and Technology’s (NTNU) Nord-Trondelag Health Study, or HUNT, recruited 50,000 volunteers who received questionnaires, interviews and examinations to determine the health profiles of the population. The study results revealed that subjects who were involved in the arts or merely enjoyed them, felt healthier and less depressed.

Professor Jostein Holmen presented the study results at a Norwegian Health conference and said “There is a positive relationship between cultural participation and self-perceived health for both women and men.” Socio-economic status had no bearing on the effect the arts had on a person’s health and wellbeing.

Sarah Huerta was deeply affected by her brother’s sudden death in 2004. She subsequently couldn’t leave the house without having a panic attack, getting in cars was difficult as her brother’s body had been found in one and she couldn’t hold down a job. She was diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder and extreme anxiety. When her husband bought her knitting needles she thought it was silly at first and difficult for her because she had trouble keeping her hands still. She eventually learned to knit and spent hours at the craft.

Experts say crafting can help those who suffer from anxiety, depression or chronic pain and it may ease stress, increase happiness and protect the brain from damage caused by aging. Neuroscientists are finding that studies on cognitive activities such as completing crossword puzzles may also apply to someone who works on complex quilting patterns. Others are linking the mental health benefits of meditation and the mindset achieved by painting or sculpting.

Even today, years after Huerta first learned to knit, she finds she can lose herself for hours in a tricky knitting pattern.

The list of pursuits which come under the heading “hobby” is almost endless: painting, knitting and crocheting, woodworking, calligraphy, reading, fishing, building electronics, adding to a collection, yoga, cooking, gardening or rebuilding old cars. Studies show this vast array of creative endeavors can boost cognition, fight mental illness and discover a new sense of self.

Sovereign Health Florida believes a well-rounded life is a key contributor to overall success in recovery. We treat addictions, mental health disorders and behavioral problems with modalities of therapy including meditative activities such as yoga, equine therapy, music and exercise. If you would like further information, please call to speak with a member of our team.

Written by Veronica McNamara, Sovereign Health Group writer

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