As the world struggles to fight against a pandemic, we might start feeling an inner struggle among us. We have been on quarantine for two months already and experts have been saying that mental illnesses can be the next wave. These days you might feel added feelings of stress, anxiety, or even signs of depression due to isolation and current public health situation. One great way to cope is through hobbies! With extra time on your hands, check these hobbies that are beneficial for your mental health:
Throughout the quarantine, many have escaped to the kitchen to try new recipes or simply learn the basics of cooking. The act of cooking is meditative itself: it requires focus and the process of chopping ingredients and sautéing is very relaxing. You also learn how to be patient and creative, in case one recipe fails and you have to try again.
Cooking your own meals instead of the usual take-outs or canned goods also help in maintaining a healthy diet or even weight loss. You know what goes into your food and have full control in its preparation. According to a study, people who regularly cook at home consume fewer calories and are less likely to eat at fast-food chains when going out.
Gardening may seem a bit intimidating at first, especially if you don’t know what to do — because you don’t want to kill new plants. The thing is, you don’t have to immediately plant a whole garden the first time you try it! You can start by planting a few favorite flowers, plants, or even vegetables and see how it goes.
In case you don’t have outdoor space, there are a variety of plants and herbs that thrive indoors. Gardening is a great way to reduce stress and boost self-esteem and confidence. A study also shows that being exposed to a greenspace improves one’s wellbeing and decreases anxiety, depression, and mental distress. It’s time to add more greens not only in your meals but also at home!
Yoga is one of the most relaxing forms of exercise. It’s difficult to maintain an active lifestyle while on quarantine, but because yoga doesn’t require much space, it’s ideal for our indoor lifestyle. It doesn’t require you to do the most intense squats and jumps; all you need is a video or app that will guide you. Yoga helps you boost your flexibility, strength, and most importantly, it helps you practice mindfulness. There are plenty of free yoga classes you can follow, whether you’re looking for one that is relaxing or one that’ll give you a full body workout.
Photography is a hobby that allows you to document pieces of your life, especially those that make you happy. Photos can be tools for healing and growth, and sometimes you won’t even notice how relaxing it can be. Photography can also teach you about how you see the world and yourself. You don’t even have to own the latest DSLR or most expensive camera to be able to take good photos. Make do with what you have, even if it’s just your phone.
Whether you’re into classical music or the loudest metal bands, music can be a way of escapism. Especially when you find a particular song that resonates with you or brings you relaxation. According to Harvard Men’s Health Watch, music soothes the nerves and raises spirits especially when cheerful and bright music is being played. Playing instruments is beneficial for your mental health too! When you’re beginning to learn how to play an instrument, you develop perseverance and focus and get a boost of confidence once you finally master it.
One of the best ways to cope with stress, anxiety, or depression is finding a way to express yourself; and that is through journaling. It helps you know about yourself through reflection, keep track of possible triggers, and recognize existing fears or problems. Once you identify them, you’ll learn different ways on how to manage them. You don’t have to write multiple pages when you start; just write whatever feels right and don’t be pressured about keeping in pretty. Try to write every day, whether it’s on your notebook or laptop. There are different journaling prompts you can follow to help you get started. You can also keep a gratitude journal to be reminded that despite the chaos we’re in now, there are still things worth looking forward to.
You might think that puzzles are difficult and stressful, but it’s actually beneficial for your mental health. Doctors highly recommend any form of puzzle-solving because it improves your memory, enhances cognition, and keeps stress levels at bay. It also helps you keep an active mind. Plus, you need peace and quiet when solving puzzles, which is extremely relaxing.
We often associate exercise with weight loss but not all who exercise want to shed off a couple of pounds. Yes, it can make your clothes fit loosely but regular exercise actually helps maintain healthy mental health. It’s a natural and powerful tool to feel better! A study by the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health found that walking for an hour or running for 15 minutes every day reduces the risk of experiencing depression by 26%. It can even treat moderate depression, which is as effective as taking antidepressants. When you exercise, endorphins or the happy hormones are released, which relieves you of pain and stress. When your body feels good, your mind will feel good as well!
What new hobbies have you tried during the ECQ? Share with us below!