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5 Healthy Hobbies You Can Start in Less Than a Week – Tips and Ideas
5 Fun and Healthy Hobbies You Can Learn in a Week
Discover the benefits of picking up a hobby, from improved mental health to cognitive function. Explore easy-to-learn hobbies for adults recommended by therapists to enhance emotional balance and encourage play. Get started today!
The Link Between Hobbies and Your Well-Being
You may have heard of the “blue zones,” where people live the longest and healthiest lives in the world. Researchers suggest that along with balanced nutrition, exercise, and low stress, leisure activities are a crucial component to their longevity.
Matthew Zawadzki, PhD, director of the Stress and Health Lab at the University of California, explains how hobbies can improve your mood, social interactions, and mental focus. These benefits decrease the negative effects of daily stress and anxiety, which can increase cortisol and heart levels.
A 2019 study by Zawadzki and others revealed that stressful events happen about every other day, leading to feelings of stress between 40 to 70% of the time. To make the most out of your hobbies, they need to be a consistent presence in your life. However, Zawadzki advises that they don’t need to be time-consuming or rigid.
Zawadzki suggests thinking of your hobbies as a brief chance to reset your mental state, even if it’s only for a few minutes. A study published in the Journal of Positive Psychology in June 2021 found that small breaks, such as listening to music, taking a walk, or communicating with others, had positive effects on stress levels for caregivers of loved ones with Alzheimer’s.
By making time for leisure activities, you can reduce stress and promote well-being in your daily life.
5 Relaxing Hobbies You Can Pick Up in a Week
If you’re looking for a fun and easy way to unwind, taking up a hobby could be just the ticket. “A hobby is any activity you do regularly for the purpose of enjoyment,” says psychotherapist and coach Dana Gilbert. “If you’re not sure where to start, think about what you used to enjoy and try it again.”
If you need some inspiration, we’ve got you covered with five healthy hobbies you can adopt quickly and easily.
Reading for Relaxation
Looking for a way to calm your mind and ease anxiety? According to Dr. LaTasha Perkins, a family physician and assistant professor of medicine at Georgetown University, reading can do just that. “Reading can help put your mind at ease by giving you something positive and reassuring to focus on, taking your mind away from negative intrusive thoughts you may be experiencing,” she says.
To get started, check out Bookshop.org, which connects you with local independent bookstores and offers book suggestions by category. For free e-books, LibraryFinder.org lets you search by zip code for libraries in your area. You can also find affordable pre-loved books at yard sales, used bookstores, or charity stores. If sitting still isn’t your thing, consider a free trial of Amazon’s Audible platform for audiobooks.
Meditation for Mindfulness
Meditation may be a slow-paced hobby, but it has numerous health benefits. According to a review published in Comprehensive Psychoneuroendocrinology in May 2021, meditation can lower blood pressure, decrease heart rate, and reduce cortisol levels. It can also improve memory, attention span, and emotional regulation skills.
To get started, find a quiet, comfortable place to sit or lie down. Set a timer for 5 to 10 minutes and focus your attention on your breathing. Observe your thoughts without judgment, and gently bring your mind back to your breath when it wanders. For guided meditations, Calm, Headspace, and Insight Timer offer excellent free and low-cost options.
Spending Time in Nature Can Boost Mood
According to Dr. Perkins, engaging in outdoor activities such as hiking or gardening can not only keep you physically fit but also promote emotional balance. This is because being outdoors triggers the release of endorphins, also known as feel-good chemicals. Additionally, sunlight exposure can stimulate the production of neuroreceptors, which can result in more positive thoughts and feelings. Studies suggest that sunlight on the skin boosts the production of mood-boosting serotonin.
To start enjoying nature, you can join outdoor adventure groups on Meetup.com or Facebook Groups. You can also ask employees at your local outdoor store for information on events in your area, such as hiking groups or camping trips. Another option is to check out a beginner’s guide to walking workouts.
Yoga for Relaxation
Yoga is a fantastic hobby that promotes healthy breathing, relaxation, and reduces your body’s stress response, according to Dr. Perkins. Even small amounts of yoga can have a positive impact on your well-being by giving you something to look forward to. Research published in the Journal of Sports Science and Medicine in December 2020 found that yoga engages the parasympathetic nervous system, which is the opposite of the stressed-out, fight-or-flight response.
If you’re interested in trying yoga, many studios offer lower-priced introductory offers for first-timers. They should have all the equipment you need for each class, including a yoga mat (although they may charge extra for the mat). Remember to bring a water bottle and wear comfortable clothes you can move easily in, according to the YMCA. If a full-on vinyasa yoga class sounds intimidating, consider a low-key yin session instead. Yin yoga may be a good choice for beginners because the sessions are slow-paced and focus on experimentation and self-exploration, as suggested by the Kripalu Center for Yoga & Health. If you prefer an at-home practice, you can use resources such as the Yoga with Adrienne YouTube channel or the Glo yoga app, which offer a variety of styles and levels.
Art Projects for Stress Reduction
Creating art can have several benefits for your well-being. A study published in the International Journal of Women in Technical Education and Employment in 2022 found that painting improved attention, increased self-esteem, and reduced stress levels. To get started, all you need is a pencil, a set of watercolor paints, a few paintbrushes, and a sketchbook. If you’re ready to level up, consider using acrylic paints, a paper plate for mixing colors, and a canvas (ask for guidance from employees at your local craft store). You can follow step-by-step painting tutorials on YouTube channels like The Art Sherpa or Painting With Jane. Another option is to attend a paint-and-sip event near you through Painting With a Twist.
Even if you don’t consider yourself to be artistic, visiting an art museum can still help you relax. A small study published in Arts & Health in March 2018 noted that looking at figurative art (i.e., art that represents “real” and not abstract things) may help lower blood pressure. If you can’t visit an art museum in person, many museums such as the Louvre in Paris, the Van Gogh Museum in Amsterdam, and the Guggenheim in New York City offer virtual tours.
How to Discover a Hobby You Love
Finding a hobby that you truly enjoy can bring immense benefits to your mental and emotional wellbeing. But with so many options out there, where do you begin? If none of the hobbies mentioned in our previous sections catch your interest, don’t worry—there are countless other options to explore. Here’s how to find a hobby that’s right for you:
Consider Your Passions
The first step to finding a hobby that you love is to think about your passions. What activities or interests have always intrigued you? What are some things you’ve always wanted to try, but never had the time or opportunity to explore? Make a list of all the activities that come to mind, even if they seem outlandish or unlikely.
Once you’ve made a list of potential hobbies, it’s time to start exploring. Dr. Gilbert, a clinical psychologist, suggests starting small with a technique called behavioral activation. This involves setting achievable goals and gradually building on your progress. For example, if you’re interested in reading, start with just 15 minutes a day, three times a week. After a week, evaluate how you feel and adjust your goals as needed.
Evaluate Your Progress
As you try out different hobbies, it’s important to evaluate your progress and how each activity makes you feel. Does it bring you joy and satisfaction? Do you feel more relaxed and less stressed? Keep track of your experiences in a journal or notebook, and use this information to guide your future hobby choices.
Enjoy the Benefits
Whether it’s painting, cooking, or hiking, finding a hobby you love can have a positive impact on your mental health and overall wellbeing. Dr. Gilbert notes that healthy hobbies can improve your mood, decrease your stress levels, and increase your overall enjoyment of life. So don’t be afraid to try new things and discover what truly brings you joy.