Indulging in a hobby can be a great way to calm an overactive mind. It helps you take a break from your busy, stressful life and clear your mental plate.
Hobbies induce relaxation and help you enter flow states similar to meditation so that you can shut out everything other than your engagement in your hobby.
Simply put, a flow state is a mental state characterized by complete absorption and enjoyment in the process of an activity, especially an activity that involves creative abilities.
Also, hobbies ignite creativity and open your mind to new possibilities. A productive hobby can even help you redefine yourself. So, just rekindle an old interesting hobby or cultivate a new one to lift your spirits and tune into the real you.
Here are the top 10 hobbies that can help calm your mind.
Music is perhaps the most common medium of art and healing. Both listening and composing music help relieve stress and calm your mind. Studies have found that music therapy reduces anxiety, improves cognitive health, decreases pain and promotes feelings of power.
Researchers at Stanford University also indicate that rhythmic music may have a therapeutic effect for treating a range of neurological conditions as it stimulates the brain and may even change brain function.
Gentle music with a familiar melody will help reduce your level of the stress hormone cortisol, which wreaks havoc on your mind and body.
Playing musical instruments also helps you express yourself and relieve tension. Slow beats, in particular, are associated with meditative states as they encourage slow brainwaves.
Gardening is a rewarding hobby and a great stress reliever. Simply being out in nature is an enjoyable experience that soothes your soul. The sounds, the smell, the breeze and the sunlight—all of these help calm your mind and improve your mood. Plus, the repetitive nature of gardening tasks soothe your mind.
Scientists suggest that the bacteria in soil may help activate brain cells to produce the neurotransmitter serotonin that works like an antidepressant. Researchers believe the bacteria in soil can help increase learning behavior, too.
Gardening also contributes to your physical health as activities like digging, planting, weed pulling and harvesting strengthen your bones and muscles.
As Johann Wolfgang von Goethe puts it, “There is no better deliverance from the world than through art; and a man can form no surer bond with it than through art.”
Painting can be a beautiful and soothing way to calm your mind. The different colors have different energy levels and can significantly impact your mood. Blue, for instance, is associated with tranquility, purple with creativity and meditation, green with freshness, yellow with optimism, orange with vitality, red with passion, and so on.
This entertaining hobby also opens up your creative outlet and makes your mind sharper. In fact, it works as a creative stress reliever that helps release pent-up tension and anger.
You can also try meditative painting. Just take a minute to reflect on your thoughts and feelings and paint abstractly without references and with no known conclusion.
Working on craft projects, such as sewing, knitting, scrapbooking and a wide range of DIY projects, is another interesting hobby that keeps you occupied and puts your mind at ease. It allows you to focus on a particular item or pattern and thus forget the things that stress your mind. It also works as a creative outlet to release pent-up energy and frustration.
Studies indicate that crafting can act as an antidepressant and even protect your brain from aging. In a 2014 study published in the British Journal of Occupational Therapy, 81.5% of the participants (3,500 knitters worldwide) with depression reported feeling happy after knitting.
The repetitive action involved in knitting activates the parasympathetic nervous system that counteracts the “fight or flight” reaction.
You can also do a relaxing craft activity with your entire family to unwind and spend some quality time together, creating special memories with the added benefit of making some handmade keepsakes. Plus, completing a project will give you a positive feeling about yourself and your abilities, thus boosting your self-esteem.
Photography is another creative and fun hobby that can also prove to be productive. Seeing the world through a photographer’s lens can be a deeply contemplative practice as you begin to see things differently.
The fact that it takes your focus off of yourself and involves finding beauty and purpose in everything makes the art of photography quite soothing and satisfying. Plus, your pictures will help you continually appreciate the beautiful side of life and train your mind to keep a positive outlook.
6. Reading and Writing
Both reading and writing are common hobbies that people use to relax. A study conducted at the University of Sussex showed that reading can be the best way to relax. Simply reading a newspaper or book, even for just 6 minutes, can be enough to reduce stress levels by 68%. It helps slow down the heart rate and ease muscle tension.
Writing down your emotions and reactions to things going on in your life in a journal can help you clarify your thoughts, making them less stressful. Studies have also found that creative expression promotes wellness and healing.
Though cooking can be a tedious chore for some, it is a pleasurable and stress-busting hobby for those who enjoy it. It works almost as a therapy to clear your mind and serves as a creative outlet. Simply cutting and chopping food can be a great calming ritual.
In addition to the immediate gratification that it offers, cooking provides a good sensory experience, thanks to all the aroma, flavors, visual delight and sizzling sounds. The fact that it allows you to nurture others makes it all the more meaningful and fun.
8. Pet Keeping
Petting your dog or having your cat on your lap can be naturally soothing. Research shows that living with pets can provide several health benefits, such as reducing stress, improving your mood, lowering high blood pressure, and lowering triglyceride and cholesterol levels.
Studies have found that heart attack patients who own pets survive longer than those who don’t have pets.
Interestingly, a number of pediatricians and clinics incorporate aquarium therapy to promote positive mental health as it helps calm the mind and alleviate anxiety.
Keeping a pet, however, is more than a hobby. It is a responsibility with the reward of unconditional love from your beloved pet. Different breeds of dogs, cats, birds, fish, rabbits, ferrets and guinea pigs are some of the most popular pets that people keep.
Dancing is another form of art and movement-based creative expression that can be a refuge from intense emotions and promote well-being. It enlivens the body and allows your mind to expand.
Tai Chi Chuan, in particular, is a slow dance that combines structured movements, deep breathing and relaxation to calm your mind.
Dancing also has been shown to boost your mood. In a study published in the Archives of Pediatrics & Adolescent Medicine, Swedish researchers found that a dancing intervention program, twice weekly for 8 months, helped teenage girls struggling with stress, anxiety, depression and other internalizing problems improve their self-related health and reported a boost in mood.
This fun hobby also helps improve the condition of your heart and lungs, boosts self-confidence and increases aerobic fitness.
Biking- the world of wheels, gears and pedals- is exciting for many. It involves repetitive motions that help clear your mind to enjoy the present moment, keeping frantic thinking and restless thoughts away.
Riding a bicycle stimulates your mind and allows you to engage with your surroundings and explore the world in a different way. Another added benefit is that it allows you to stay physically active, thus reducing the chances of developing chronic diseases like heart disease, diabetes and arthritis.
Though hobbies are fun and provide an outlet for emotional troubles, they should not be used just as a means to escape from reality. Rather, they should be used as a tool to relax, open your mind, tune into your inner self, build self-confidence, induce positive physiological changes and learn a new skill.