How Hobbies Help You Age Healthy and Happy ~ click here to comment November 20, 2017 08:36

Guest post by Maria Cannon

Happy #TCJMonday Everyone! 

TCJ intro: Crafting and making is a integral part of my life.  I grew up in a super creative household where I was raised to always be making.  The rule in our house was "no watching TV unless you are making something." I understand this is not everyone's childhood, but I believe it is in all of us to make and create at some capacity.  Starting a hobby at retirement or any age is such a fabulous thing to do. If you feel intimidated learning to knit or crochet for the first time, find your local yarn shop (LYS); joining a beginner class or a weekly knit-night is a great place to start.

Please welcome back Maria as she illustrates the importance of finding a hobby in retirement and where to start.  I believe these tips cross over to all ages; starting a hobby, joining knit groups, being part of the community can benefit your life in so many positive ways.

How Hobbies Help You Age Healthy and Happy

Once you're retired, you may find that you have more time for hobbies, but how do you know what kind of hobby to pursue? Finding a meaningful hobby is an important part of healthy aging because it reduces stress and improves mental health. If you aren't sure where to start, these tips can help you find hobbies that fit your interests and give the best boost to your mental health too.

Challenging hobbies give meaning to life

Many people feel like their sense of purpose vanishes when they retire, and no longer having the role that comes from working can leave you feeling lost. When you pursue a hobby you enjoy, it helps you find your identity again and a renewed sense of purpose. Try a hobby where you have to learn something new. While negative stress causes anxiety, taking on a challenge or positive stress, called eustress, is actually really important to a fulfilling life and avoiding depression as we age. A hobby can give us this positive challenge, and the feeling of accomplishment you get is an added benefit. 

Creative hobbies sharpen your brain

Research reported by CBS news shows that creative hobbies have benefits that keep your brain sharp as you age. In the study, participants who engaged in creative hobbies developed less cognitive impairment. To maximize this benefit, try your hand at a new creative endeavor. The extra mental challenge will boost the benefit to your brain. Knitting, painting, music, woodworking, and writing are all great creative activities to keep your mind active and engaged. 

Hobbies create healthy habits

While hobbies make life fun and can lift your mood, they can also help you develop healthy habits as you age. If you feel stuck thinking of what you'd like to try, check out this list of healthy hobbies from The Huffington Post. Making time for healthy hobbies on a routine bases gives structure to your life, which may be lacking after retirement. This is especially helpful for anyone who is in recovery from addiction to drugs or alcohol. Addiction is a habit that's extremely hard to kick, but according to the Harvard Health blog, healthy hobbies can be a powerful way of stopping addictive behaviors. When you replace unhealthy addiction with healthy hobbies, not only does your hobby fill that void, but it also helps you become invested in something you're passionate about and possibly find a new community too.

Social hobbies form friendships

An unfortunate problem for many of us as we age is feeling socially isolated. Finding new hobbies that get you out of the house and part of a community of people who have the same interests helps build back that social network you may be missing. According to Psychology Today, numerous studies have shown that people who are socially engaged are happier. Researchers have even nailed down the optimal number and types of hobbies. They say that retirees who are happiest do three to four activities regularly, and they get even greater benefit if those activities are social. Engaging in social activities is especially important for someone who is in recovery from addiction because it helps you form new bonds based on a positive shared interest, which can replace past relationships that may have been damaged.

Get physical to boost benefits

When you choose hobbies that are active, your mental health gets an added boost on top of all the other benefits of a hobby. Physical activity boosts chemicals in your brain that make you feel good and promote mental health. Even moderate exercise can reduce anxiety and depression. Yoga, walking, and gardening are all great physical activities that can also be social if you join a class or club.

As you age, taking care of your mental health is just as important as your physical health, and finding a hobby is a great way to do both. What have you always wanted to try but never had the time for? Don't wait any longer! Now is the time to jump right in and discover how rewarding it can be.

Photo credit: Pexels

Quilting is my favorite pastime, but it's much more than that, too. As someone who has dealt with depression and anxiety, I've also found that having a hobby, like quilting, can be the perfect prescription for boosting mental health, not to mention that it challenges the brain.
In general, no matter how old you are, hobbies can reduce stress, improve mood, offer feelings of accomplishment, and provide opportunities for socializing. Unfortunately, not everyone realizes the benefits of hobbies, so I have started looking for more resources and information to share with people of all ages. I created Hobby Jr as an outlet to share my found information including useful links, resources and articles about how to get started.