Hobbies And Mental Health


Hobbies And Mental Health.

In therapy one of the questions you are asked is how you spend your free time or what recreational activities you take part in. Why ask this question when I came in because I am depressed, anxious or I have issues with substance use?

A hobby is any activity done regularly during your spare time for pleasure. It may be something creative like drawing or painting  or something athletic like running marathons or playing a sport, academic like  learning how to program or learning a new language  or reading ,as long as it is meaningful and enjoyable it would be considered a hobby.

Having a hobby is a good way to spend your free time and to unwind after a busy day or a busy week. Apart from entertainment hobbies also serve other purposes such as increasing knowledge , learning new skills, improving health and stimulating the brain. When we make time to do things we enjoy our mental health flourishes.

Research shows that people with hobbies suffer from stress, low moods and depression at lower rates compared to people with no hobbies at all. These activities help you feel satisfaction, happier and more relaxed. Hobbies that require working in groups and teams also help foster good relationships and improve interpersonal skills such as communication and conflict resolution.


Identify what you like.

Hobbies come in all shapes and sizes. There are infinite things that you can do as hobbies depending on your unique interests, personality and available resources. The most common hobbies for mental health include: sports and exercise, music, painting, reading and journaling.  Identify what you already like doing and make an effort to do it regularly. It is good to try out new activities, you may discover a new hobby along the way.

Make time for the hobbies you have.

Just like everything else in life we need to set aside time to do things, that we like doing. If you do not intentionally make time for hobbies you might find yourself neglecting to do activities which can be detrimental to your mental health.

You don’t have to be good at it.

Let’s say running is your hobby, or writing, you do not need to write bestsellers or run as fast as the World Record holder to enjoy it. Being an amateur at something is not a bad thing, as long as you find the activity enjoyable you need not feel the pressure to produce work of a certain standard.

Rediscover forgotten hobbies.

As children we had so many hobbies, this may be due to the abundant free time and the emphasis on play. You may remember that you used to like drawing, why not take up an art class or go get supplies and watch tutorials online. This simple exercise may help unearth the interest you had as a kid and maybe develop into a hobby.

Cross out items on your bucket list.

We all have things we’ve been wanting to do but for various reasons we haven’t yet. Maybe you’ve wanted to go zip lining, make plans to do it, preferably with people you enjoy spending time with.

With the obvious benefits of having hobbies, including the benefits to our mental health your therapist may recommend spending more time doing your hobbies or discovering more hobbies. Hobbies can also be a good indicator of poor mental health.  When an individual says they no longer enjoy the things they previously found enjoyable also called anhedonia, it may be a symptom of a mental health issue. This coupled by other symptoms could be as a result of a mental health disorder such as depression, schizophrenia or substance use disorders. If you feel this may be happening to you or someone you love, please help them find professional help by seeking the services of a psychologist or a psychiatrist.


By Monica Musyoka,

Hospital Psychologist,

Chiromo Hospital  Group.


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