How to choose hobbies that help your mental health recovery journey
Thanks for all of your support lately. If you follow my blog, you’ll know that I had a really tough time of it last week. I was really moved by all the nice messages of love and encouragement you sent me (particularly on Twitter, y’all know I love a Tweet); it always blows my mind a little bit how total strangers can be the most awesome people. Seriously. Why are you so awesome?
In prep for a project I’ve got launching, I wanted to talk to you about hobbies and how they fit perfectly into your self care regime. To start things off, I wanted to share a short post explaining my relationship with hobbies, why they’re important AND how you can find the perfect hobby to help you along with your mental health journey.
I’ve said it before, but I’ll say it again for the people in the back: ACCESS TO MENTAL HEALTH TREATMENT IS NOT AS EASY AS IT SHOULD BE.
Not that you should let that put you off reaching out for help, you need to be on the train to get to your destination after all. Mental illness is just the same as any other illness, it needs to be properly treated for us to recover. If you’re struggling, you should know that it’s not just OK to reach out for help; it’s also very important and it might just save your life.
You can and should speak to your doctor about your mental health, please don’t wait until you’re at crisis point.
While you’re waiting to be assessed and/or waiting for treatment, there are many things you can do to help yourself. I’m sure you’ve all heard of the phrase “self care” by now, but it’s so much more than just having a bath or meditating; it’s a way of life. For those of you who aren’t familiar with the idea of self care, here’s a quick refresher.
Self care is the name for the actions you can take (by yourself or with others) in order to protect, maintain and improve your health, wellbeing and wellness.
Health is health. Don’t neglect your mental health.
Like all lifestyle changes, incorporating self care into your daily routine can be tough. Rather than a sudden surge of activities; it’s far better to establish smaller, long-term habits. I find that the best self care activities fall into one or more of the following categories: mindfulness, distraction, social, investment and indulgence.
Sound tough? Well, it really doesn’t have to be. If you’ve been following along with some of the #SelfCareOctober Challenge, then you will know that many self care activities are tiny steps in the right direction and some of them are even things that many people would take for granted. The REALLY GOOD NEWS is that while you explore the world of self care, you might pick up some awesome new hobbies that tick all the boxes.
Finding a hobby
The awesome thing about a hobby is that it’s usually something you enjoy/are interested in, which makes it an easier habit to maintain than one that you ‘know is good for you’ but hate doing. I’ve had so many hobbies over the years, one of them - writing - I am doing RIGHT NOW.
Don’t get me wrong, there are times - particularly when my health is bad, when I find it hard to muster up the energy for even my favourite things, BUT you can bet your ass that the moment I’m feeling even a teeny bit better, I’ll want to get right back to it. If you’re hobby is something that actually helps your health and wellbeing in the first place then you, my friend, are onto what-I-call a winner.
If you’re at a bit of a loss as to what to throw yourself into, here are some of the most common ways to turn self care into a hobby:
Gentle Exercise (whatever you’re able to do, I favour a hike or a stroll - but have been known to gym on occasion too)
Less Gentle Exercise (if you can channel your energy into something that rewards your directly with serotonin, it’s got to be good right?)
Art (this isn’t necessarily a hobby that is cheap, but if you enjoy it it’s well worth investing in some materials and focusing on creating something meaningful)
Writing (any form of expressing yourself is truly worthwhile)
Gaming (yes, I’m counting gaming. Along with reading, I think this is one of the most valuable forms of escapism)
Reading (see above)
Relaxing (yoga, meditation, walking your dog, taking a bath, etc etc)
Crafts and Making (p.s. if you make bathbombs, hook me up)
Textiles (sewing, knitting, crochet are really good for both distraction and mindfulness. and you might end up with your own business, go get em!)
Cooking (a lot of time, effort and skill goes into cooking and you benefit from the process AND the nourishment at the end)
Do you have an ‘unusual’ hobby?
Let me know in the comments below, ESPECIALLY if it’s one that helps with your health or wellbeing.
I have some pretty exciting news coming up over the next couple of months - including the launch of a HUGE mental health project that I’m very excited about. If you missed it, I’ve also been shortlisted for the 2018 Mind Charity Awards this year, in the “Digital Champion” category, which is pretty cool. Thank you for continuing to support me and please keep talking about your mental health. I couldn’t do this without you!
Did you know that I also host a mental health podcast, where I chat to guests about their mental health journeys AND raise awareness for people living with mental illness?