We often don’t fully understand just how important hobbies are for our mental health until we have depression.
I suffered from depression for over ten years, so I am well-acquainted with the ‘what’s the point’ mindset. I have endured long periods of hopelessness where I lacked the motivation to do anything other than sleep. I’ve also indulged in my fair share of unhealthy, self-destructive coping mechanisms, which completely destroyed my ability to find pleasure in life’s little things.
These hobbies for depression are low-effort and cost-effective, with most of them being scientifically proven to reduce symptoms of depression, anxiety, stress and insomnia. This is because participating in healthy hobbies fights off negative thoughts, provides us with some of our basic self-care needs and reduces depression-inducing boredom.
Not only that, but making time for hobbies is one of the main healthy habits that happy people have.
Think of the happiest people in your life and I can guarantee that they all have passions and goals to drive and delight them. See, having a hobby that you make time for can positively shift your perspective on the world. Rather than the feeling of uninspired pointlessness that depression brings, hobbies give us something to work towards and accomplish. Something to benefit our intellectual self-care needs as well as our emotional needs.
Ultimately, hobbies give our lives meaning. This is why it can be ultra-devastating when depression robs you of the motivation to do the things that you enjoy.
Having a variety of different hobbies is great because it presents a selection of activities at our fingertips. I’ve included eight different hobbies for depression – pick your favourites and try them out!
Creative writing makes a great hobby for depression because not only does it provide you with an outlet for your negative thoughts, but it encourages useful, depression-reducing skills like imagination, critical thinking and effective communication.
Many people find solace in creative writing, whether it be writing a novel, short stories or poetry. Blogging also makes a great hobby for depression! Writing is extremely therapeutic for me and being able to blog about all of my mental health issues has been an incredibly journey of self-discovery and healing.
Journaling is also hugely beneficial for mental health. Research shows that journaling helps to reduce depression and anxiety by providing you with an opportunity to observe and transform negative thoughts. It is also brilliant for self-discovery and motivation as it can enlighten you to your values, strengths and core beliefs.
Photography is a great hobby for depression and anxiety. It is often used as a mindfulness activity because it encourages you to observe and engage with the immediate beauty in the world around you. Seeing the world through a lens is like seeing it from a different perspective, which makes it an excellent depression-reducing hobby.
It also gets you out of the house and exploring new places, which is extremely beneficial for your mental and physical health.
Read: “How To Balance The Light & Darkness With Struggling Depression” by Her Life Adventures.
Drawing / Painting
Just like photography, drawing gives you a different perspective on the world and makes a brilliant mindful activity. You learn to pay closer attention to shapes, colours, textures and angles – all the little details that our busy minds often miss.
If you feel like this is a dud because you ‘can’t draw’ (trust me, I’ve been there), then check out Will Kemp’s interesting post on why he thinks anyone can learn how to draw.
Also, completing an artistic piece is an extremely satisfying accomplishment.
Reading has been scientifically proven to have numerous positive mental health benefits, from instilling empathy to strengthening emotional awareness. In the conversation surrounding reading and mental health, the use of bibliotherapy to help treat depression, anxiety and existential worries has gained mainstream recognition as an effective creative arts therapy.
Reading holds a special place in my heart as one of my favourite teenage hobbies for dealing with depression. It’s therapeutic, fantastical escapism often naturally draws in people who suffer from depression.
There was a period in my life where my depression was so bad that I just couldn’t read, which was deeply saddening because it was probably my earliest childhood comfort. However, getting back into reading once I got better was a truly beautiful experience. It was like I was experiencing it for the first time all over again!
Gardening is one of my favourite hobbies for depression because it teaches you three fundamental life skills: patience, nurture and love. It teaches you the importance of gentle, consistent care as you patiently wait for your nurture to make a difference. The beauty in a baby shoot or a budding flower is incredibly meaningful because we can apply it to our own self-care needs.
Cooking / Baking
We know that there is an established link between nutrition and mental health. Research shows that a healthy, balanced diet promotes positive mental health, while an unhealthy diet can actually cause and worsen a variety of mental health conditions including depression, anxiety and insomnia.
However, did you know that the physical act of cooking can also be extremely beneficial to our mental wellbeing?
Just like other mindful activities, cooking provides us with a clear focus and encourages us to pay close attention to our body’s experiences of smell, texture and taste. Cooking is also incredibly skillful, especially when it is used as a learning activity. There are always new recipes to try, new tastes to experience and new tricks and tips to learn, making it one of the most satisfying hobbies for depression.
Try incorporating your cooking hobby into your physical health goals by experimenting with healthy foods. Also, set yourself some achievable goals, like trying out a new recipe every week or having a meat-free Monday.
Yoga is one of the most widely-recognised activities for reducing depression, anxiety and stress. It has been studied in a variety of interesting areas too: for example, this study looks at the benefits of yoga for adolescent mental health, while this study examines how breast cancer patients can use yoga to combat low-quality mental and physical health.
Yoga promotes peace and harmony of the mind, making it a great hobby for depression and anxiety reduction. It also has loads of physical benefits too. What’s even better is that you can practise it alone at home or, if you’re looking to fill your social needs, you can go to a yoga class near you.
Swimming / Hiking / Dancing – Anything Physical
Depression has a serious habit of killing your motivation to exercise. Trust me – I’ve been there. However, there’s no escaping the facts – that looking after your physical health is a vital part of self-care.
Our physical health and mental health are intrinsically entwined, with poor physical health significantly worsening depression. Fortunately, partaking in regular exercise is hugely beneficial to our mental health – and we can do it without having to step foot in the gym!
Turn exercise into a hobby by doing some fun, physical activities that don’t require getting on a treadmill. Your hobby doesn’t have to be any of the suggestions listed above either – anything that keeps you physically active is a positive, depression-reducing hobby to have.
Try to make it something you genuinely enjoy doing by setting yourself goals to work towards. This will increase your satisfaction levels, leaving you feeling accomplished and deserving of that extra bar of feel-good chocolate on your down days!
I hope you’ve enjoyed my post about possible hobbies for depression and have found something that works for you.! If you know of any other hobbies that can help you to cope with depression, please feel free to leave them in the comments down below!