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Did you know that your hobbies can help support your mental health? Choosing the right pastimes can become a vital part of your recovery journey. If you have depression, you know how it impacts your life. You can help to ease some of your symptoms with positive, productive activities. Here are nine hobbies for people with depression that can help lift your mood.
You probably know that exercise prompts your body to release a flood of feel-good endorphins, natural body chemicals that decrease pain and improve your mood. The problem is, depression robs you of your energy. Getting out of bed or off the couch can seem akin to scaling Mt. Everest.
One mental trick you can use to motivate yourself is setting a time limit. Promise yourself that you can quit after five or ten minutes if you still feel unmotivated. Chances are, once you get moving the glorious laws of physics will take over and keep you going through your workout. However, you still get a glow of accomplishment for trying even if you decide to stop.
Yoga translates to “union” from Sanskrit, and it unites your mind, body and breath. If you have comorbid anxiety with your depression, this ancient exercise form may benefit you the most.
Please don’t quit if you try one class and find it not to your liking. You can find multiple forms of this practice to suit nearly everybody. If you are the active, athletic sort, energetic ashtanga can help you burn off nervous energy and exhaust you enough to sleep. If you have chronic pain, gentle yin yoga can calm your nervous system and help you to relax.
You don’t have to make every hobby active — sometimes, you need something to help you unwind. Reading can benefit your disorder if you choose the right material.
You’ll want to stay away from doom and gloom — scrolling through news stories on social media doesn’t qualify as depression-friendly. Instead, try an uplifting self-help book that will inspire you and give you coping mechanisms to deal with your disorder. Of course, you can also escape into a fictional fantasy world.
Gardening gives you the joy of nurturing living things. It also gets you out in the fresh air and sunshine, which has considerable mood-boosting benefits. Research published in the National Library of Medicine indicates that looking at nature scenes helps your body return to equilibrium under acute mental stress.
Gardening also promotes a sense of self-sufficiency. Depression sometimes arises from feelings of helplessness and powerlessness. Knowing that you can grow food for yourself creates agency.
Hiking combines the endorphin-boosting power of exercise with the great outdoors for a psychological win-win. You can go with a group or head out solo on those days when you don’t feel up to human contact — you might change your mind after your trek.
You could improve your immune health along with boosting your mood. Research published by the National Institutes of Health investigated the impact of Japanese forest-bathing on immunity. They discovered an increased number and activity of natural killer cells, which battle germs in those who immersed themselves in the wilderness once a month.
People with depression sometimes tend to isolate themselves. Everyone needs alone time occasionally, but it can make your symptoms worse if it goes on long enough to make you lonely.
Knitting circles give you the chance to mingle with others while enjoying your favorite hobby. Plus, you can share yarn once you form friendships.
A book club is another social hobby to get you mixing and mingling with those of similar interests. It’s also one you can participate in if your depression stems from mobility issues that keep you at home much of the time.
Why not seek out an online book club? You can find one to suit nearly any interest, from romance to popular fiction.
Sometimes, all you need to get your body moving is a little help from your friends. Those resistant to exercise often adhere to their programs better when they work out with a buddy. You can amplify the effect by having the entire team waiting for you when you join a recreational sports league. Check with your local parks and recreation department for upcoming seasonal offerings.
Volunteering is one of the best hobbies that you can adopt if you have depression. Performing acts of kindness releases a happy blend of mood-boosting neurotransmitters like dopamine and oxytocin.
You also create a sense of agency that you can make a positive change in your world. If you adore animals, why not walk dogs or socialize kitties for a local shelter? Soup kitchens need volunteers outside of Thanksgiving and Christmas — why not sign up for a shift?
If you have depression, your pastimes can serve as an adjunct to therapy. Please consider one of these nine hobbies to get to feeling better more quickly.