Hobbies are a tremendous way to learn new skills, connect with other like-minded people, make new friends and de-stress. Whether you like to while away an hour knitting, cooking, tinkering with machinery or building things, new research shows there are real long term benefits.
A study of more than 3500 knitters has shown that they feel much happier after practising their craft, and researchers have concluded that it isn’t the activity that matters per se, more that people have an interest which they enjoy. The subjects said they felt more confident, happy and calm, the longer they spent at their hobby.
Having a hobby can aid in mind and brain wellness by improving problem-solving and mindfulness and helping in the development of hand-eye coordination and spatial awareness. By persevering, you also learn patience, develop creativity, keep your memory active and foster a great sense of pride and achievement.
The researchers concluded that hobbies have significant psychological and social benefits, which can contribute to wellbeing and quality of life. Participating in a hobby solo definitely had benefits, but these were amplified in a group, due to the increased social contact.
For those who have tried their hands at meditation to encourage mental well-being, a hobby can induce the same feelings of quiet and peacefulness, as you can focus simply on one task which makes you feel good, and forget the outside world. Sometimes meditation, or the aim of ‘thinking about nothing’ or ‘complete stillness’ can be a daunting prospect. Not all hobbies have to involve your hands – crosswords, swimming, walking in nature or anything with a repetitive pattern can be soothing and enjoyable.
If you would like to try a new hobby, just begin. There is no pressure to perform, the idea should be to try several new activities and see which one (or more!) resonate with you. Many clubs and organisations have open days or welcome new members to come and try before they commit.