When people undergo treatment for a mental health disorder, they may often struggle with negative feelings. Some may feel shame in needing help. Others may be overwhelmed by the nature of their disorder and treatment. It can be a difficult process for anyone to go through, despite the help and support offered to them. That’s where hobbies come in.
That is why it’s so critical to keep our brains active and give ourselves something joyful to look forward to. One of how this can be done is through the use and participation in hobbies. Hobbies not only provide enrichment to our lives but can teach us valuable skills in maintaining our mental health.
Why Hobbies Help Our Mental Health
Hobbies provide mental enrichment and stimulation to keep our minds healthy. The adage “use it or lose it” is especially true when it comes to our minds. We gain positive benefits through hobbies that not only bring us joy but stimulate us. For this reason, hobbies are encouraged among the elderly to keep their minds sharp and are regular parts of elder care.
Hobbies can help combat and prevent depression, relieve stress, and give a healthy outlet for negative emotions. Many hobbies also have thriving communities, which can offer a support network to those who may otherwise be alone and vulnerable. They can offer a person a sense of pride and accomplishment and allow others to see and acknowledge the work they have done.
A hobby doesn’t need to require extensive training or money to enjoy. Many are free and accessible to just about anyone. For example, many people like to watch birds, something that can be done by simply going outside. Some may like to write stories, cook, or simply play games with other people. Other kinds of hobbies can be done by those with limited physical abilities and are thus inclusive. Any hobby can be useful in treatment as long as it’s positive and easily accessible.
Working Hobbies Into a Treatment Plan
It’s important to speak with a therapist before making any changes to a treatment plan. Therapists often encourage hobbies because they offer structure to a person’s life and provide positive benefits. A prime example is art. Art is often used in therapy as a way for someone to work through their traumas and negative emotions. By focusing your negativity on paper or a canvas, you can healthily work through your experiences.
If someone has difficulties interacting with other people, they may be encouraged to participate in a hobby with calm, encouraging people. Some hobbies are very relaxed and reduce stress. Many people like to participate in fishing. Not because they want to catch fish but to have the excuse to enjoy the relaxing environment of nature.
Some aspects of a hobby can be used as part of therapy. Many people like to participate in yoga, which is a form of mindful exercise. It’s often recommended as a way to help treat symptoms of depression and anxiety. A person can use the skills they learn in therapy to enhance the benefits they get from yoga and vice versa.
Sometimes a big part of treatment is learning how to be patient. It takes time and a lot of work to achieve recovery successfully. Treatment cannot be rushed or else you get no benefits from it. Learning and practicing hobbies that requires a lot of patience can teach people this valuable skill. Gardening is a good example, as it takes time to have a plant grow from seed.
However, the patience pays off in the end with a beautiful flower or even something tasty to eat. It gives the person a sense of pride in their accomplishments and offers a real tangible reward for their dedication. The more someone practices a skill, even something like patience, the easier it becomes.
How Hobbies Help Post-treatment
Hobbies can help someone stay in recovery after treatment has been finished. Recovery is when you learn how to live a happy and healthy life while managing your mental health disorder. As mentioned before, many communities and groups form around common hobbies. Being part of a group gives someone valuable social interactions. Sometimes the reason why someone may relapse is because of social isolation. Being in a group where the members value and encourage you often gives people the continued strength they need to stay in recovery.
Many times, people will not want to jeopardize something they very much enjoy, especially if the hobby requires money and time. For example, someone may have just recovered from a smoking addiction and love to build and paint model cars. They may be tempted to relapse, but they realize that they’d much rather spend money on paint than on packs of cigarettes. Buying the paint and putting together a new model gives them more satisfaction and pride than smoking did. Because of this, they decide to buy the paint and ignore the cigarettes, thus staying in recovery.
The skills learned in a hobby can help someone stay on track after treatment is finished. Hobbies take practice, and so does maintaining our mental health. It’s easy to combine these skills to make them harmonious. If you have a garden, you need to prune or trim the plants. However, you mindfulness at the same time by letting go of a negative caught with each leaf you trim.
If you are in treatment or are considering treatment, speak to your mental healthcare provider about your hobbies. Most likely, they will have plenty of suggestions that can fit into your lifestyle and energy levels. Sometimes they may have support groups available that participate in hobbies that can mentor and teach you. If you need help, be sure to ask for it. There is never any shame in asking for help when you need it.
Hobbies can greatly help someone who is undergoing treatment for a mental health disorder. They provide a healthy way to express feelings, create a support network, and give someone who may not feel confident a sense of pride and accomplishment. When someone undergoes treatment, they learn valuable skills to help them cope with the challenges of life and navigate their mental health disorder. At Acera Health in Costa Mesa, California, we offer custom-tailored treatment options to treat a wide array of mental health disorders. This includes encouraging people to find the things in life that give them joy. If you or someone you love is struggling with a mental health disorder, call (949) 647-4090 today.
Melody is a highly skilled proactive clinical administrator, with more than 17 years of experience serving the community in the behavioral health field.
Her clinical management career started in 2011 as a compliance manager and program director. In 2018, she became an executive as chief clinical officer (CCO). She is a seasoned licensed marriage & family therapist.