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3 Mental Health Benefits of Pursuing a Hobby

3 Mental Health Benefits of Pursuing a Hobby

About a year ago, I decided that I was going to take my personal journaling and turn it into a website. I didn’t really have a clue what I was doing and I hadn’t quite identified a reason why I was doing it, but I felt this indescribable pull to start writing more frequently and sharing my thoughts with others. In this past year, I have written and published almost 30 articles, reaching readers all over the world.

In the end, I’ve made a total of $0 from these efforts. But, I realized along the way that this has become an incredibly fulfilling hobby for me at a time when I was really seeking fulfillment and purpose in my life.

I have also watched my husband develop and hone in on his hobby of woodworking. He has built us incredible pieces for our home and has given projects away as presents to friends and loved ones. He has brought in a grand total of $0 with his hobby as well.

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What I have found is that a hobby doesn’t need to be an additional source of income. Even further, no matter how busy we are—we can always make time for it. When I started writing, I was working full time, going to graduate school full time, and also teaching a college class one day a week. If we want to make time, we will find it.

The truth is that creating space in your life to pursue a passion in the form of a hobby has incredible benefits on your mental health.

Here are 3 mental health benefits that I have discovered in the past year:

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1. Regaining a sense of control

Life is full of stuff we have no control over. This can be frustrating and intimidating. Sometimes, even if we are lucky enough to get paid for doing what we love, it comes with a price. We might have a supervisor to report to, deadlines to meet, little say over our direction, or a financial overhead to consider.

But a hobby is yours and yours alone. You can choose how to spend your time, you can choose when you want to work on it, and you can take full creative licensure over your work and make it all about you. This brings control back into your life and allows you to manifest and take ownership of something that YOU brought to fruition. You even have the right to decide if you want to share it with the world or keep it to yourself. You alone have the ability to make all of these decisions because this hobby is about you and pursuing what makes you feel happy and whole.

2. Feeling accomplished

We all need a solid ‘win’ every once in awhile. Whenever I finish an article, even if it doesn’t get published in the first place I send it to, I feel this sense of pride over the completion of a task. I watch my husband’s sense of accomplishment when he completes a new project and we either find a place for it in our home or we give it away to someone else.

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There is something truly beautiful about setting out to do something, following through on it, and then witnessing the final product come together. Its even more beautiful to know that whatever this final product is, it came from a place of genuine, authentic and intrinsic motivation. In my mind, there is nothing more fulfilling than a passion project, because its not just the completion that is the accomplishment—it is the whole journey.

3. Finding purpose and meaning

I would be lying if I said that I didn’t occasionally need some motivation to get out of bed in the morning. But, when I have an idea of something to write—my entire body comes to life. My wheels start turning and I can’t wait to get my thoughts on paper. It just so happens that I write for myself and for others. So, when I have a reader reach out to me and tell me that I helped them in some way, I feel like my life has more meaning.

But the truth is that whether your hobby is to create some form of art, to volunteer in service of others, to enhance a personal skill, or to bring people together for a sport or event—the excitement that we feel when we are pursuing what we love really fills our lives with meaning.

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The idea is to choose a hobby that guides you into your ‘flow state,’ or a state that allows us to lose sense of time by becoming so engaged in a task that everything else slips away. When we reach this mental state, we get a glimpse into our soul—into that little place inside of us where our authenticity and happiness thrives. Once we access this place, the mental health benefits are far reaching.

As a counselor, I often remind people that our career doesn’t need to be the only avenue for deriving meaning and purpose from our lives. Sometimes, we simply can’t afford to chase our passion as a career— but that doesn’t mean these sources of joy need to slip away. If you can make some money pursuing your hobby, great. But, that’s not the only reason to follow through with it. Because identifying and pursuing a hobby can ignite a spark in us to live more purposefully—and you can’t put a price tag on that.

Featured photo credit: Stokpic via stokpic.com

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Last Updated on August 13, 2018

5 Exercises To Improve Intimacy and Create a Better Relationship

5 Exercises To Improve Intimacy and Create a Better Relationship

Making love can be simultaneously the most pleasurable and the most stressful experience that we share with another human being. It is a natural conclusion of the ritual of intimacy we engage in with a person we find attractive on both a physical and psychological level. Yet, we are far removed from our animalistic roots, and that which was once a matter of instinct has become somewhat complex. This is a good thing; we have grown as a society, and there are many factors involved when it comes to the relationship between sexual partners. However, we have also lost a great deal of the physical prowess our primitive ancestors had.

They engaged in a huge amount of physical activities daily — activities that ensured their cardiovascular system and muscles were in great shape, which allowed them to have healthy libidos, strong erections, and the muscular strength, limberness and endurance to maintain different positions for a long time without getting exhausted. Luckily, we can regain some of these animalistic traits with the right kind of training. Here are some essential exercises that will help improve your relationship, but making you more confident in intimate settings, which means that you’ll have more satisfying intercourse.

Don Juan

    1. Cardio for Stamina

    If you’re out of shape, the first thing you’ll notice during intercourse is that you start to breathe heavily, sweat profusely and tire easily. This means you’ll have to shift your posture frequently and limit yourself to a few positions you feel comfortable with or significantly slow down the pace. A high BMI has also been linked to potential problems with erectile dysfunction. Cardiovascular exercises like running, jumping rope, swimming and cycling will build up your aerobic stamina and enable you to perform longer before becoming fatigued, thus having better intercourse. They’ll also help manage your weight, possibly helping performance.

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    Triathlon symbol
      • Running – 10-20 minutes a day (1-3 miles a day is more than enough)
      • Jumping rope – 5-20 minutes a day
      • Swimming – 30 minutes a day
      • Cycling – 30 minutes a day

      The time in minutes denotes time spent actively performing the exercise, and you need to factor in a bit more time for warming up before and cooling down after the exercises.

      These exercises can be performed every day or every other day, and the goal is to work on both endurance and speed. Don’t just go at a snail’s pace; constantly try to improve your time or add some mileage.

      2. Strength-Training for Your Lower Body and Core

      The next thing you’ll need to focus on is improving both the strength and muscular endurance of the hip flexors, abdominals and spinal erectors. These are the muscles engaged in thrusting and circular motions, and they also stabilize your body in a number of different positions. The legs also play an important role, particularly in standing and kneeling positions. Here are a few exercises that will help you strengthen up this area:

      Barbell squats
        • Heavy barbell squats – set up at a power rack at the gym and make sure you use proper form and weights that you can lift 3-8 times. Do this exercise before anything else in the gym for 4-5 sets to get big and powerful legs, as well as tighten up the muscles of the core. This is useful for both men and women, particularly if you enjoy the woman-on-top positions and standing positions. You can do hack squats on the machine if your gym lacks a power rack, but you won’t get the core-strengthening benefits

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        Zercher squat
          • Zercher squatsthis type of squat is a perfect way for guys to strengthen their body for standing positions where the woman is lifted off the ground. Build up a foundation of strength first, and then use lighter weights and go for 10-12 repetitions to focus on muscle endurance.

          Glute bridge
            • Glute bridgethis exercise is great for working the glutes and hip thrusters, and should be done for ultra-high reps —up to 100 — to increase muscle endurance. Once you become stronger in this movement, you can upgrade to the barbell glute bridge and keep the reps high — around 10 to 15.

            Hyperextensions
              • Hyperextensions – excellent for strengthening the spinal erectors, this exercise (or a variation of it) may be done in most gyms and even at home. Do 2 to 3 sets of 10 to 12 repetitions at the end of your workout.

              Ab wheel rollout
                • Ab wheel rollout – this is a great exercise for strengthening the abs, and requires only a piece of inexpensive equipment. It will help you stay stable and hold positions longer without getting tired during intercourse. Do three sets of this workout for as many repetitions as you can.

                Cross body crunch
                  • Cross body crunchthis exercise improves your ability to perform explosive twisting motions, particularly good for improving your stamina in the spoon position where you’e lying on your side. Do 2 to 3 sets of this exercise at the end of your workout.

                  Incorporate these exercises into your routine 2 to 3 times a week.

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                  3. Upper-Body Strength Training

                  Upper-body strength plays an important role in many popular sex positions where the arms are used to provide a stable base or hold onto the partner. These including missionary, doggy style, the stand and carry (with the woman holding onto the man’s neck) and others. Use these simple exercises to improve upper body strength and endurance:

                  Plank exercise
                    • Plank – while bench pressing is great for building a big chest, you will find yourself in need of static strength, muscle endurance and a strong core. This exercise is a great way to increase the amount of time you are able to hold positions that require you to support yourself with your arms. For added difficulty, straighten out your arms like at the top of a pushup and hold as long as you can.

                    Close grip pushups
                      • Close pushups – a pushup variation that focuses on triceps, which are the first to give out during a prolonged missionary or similar position. Go for very high reps, 20 t0 50, to work on muscle endurance.

                      Chin ups
                        • Chin-ups – A great upper back and biceps builder, this exercise will also target the core if you try to be as straight as possible when lifting yourself up. You can jump to help make things easier, or just hold as long as you can if you aren’t strong enough to perform a single chin up. Do 3 to 4 sets for as many reps as you can.

                        These exercises, done about three times a week, will help you develop a strong upper body that can keep going and hold you up for extended periods of time.

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                        4. Pelvic-Floor Exercises

                        You don’t have to perform these at the gym, although you could do them after your workout without anyone even noticing. The idea behind Kegel exercises is to improve blood flow to the sex organs and strengthen the muscles of the pelvic floor in both men and women. By locating these muscles and tightening and relaxing them for intervals of 5 seconds for 10 to 15 repetitions at a time, several times a day, you can improve pleasure and performance during sex. Women can tighten their vaginal walls for increased pleasure to both them and their partner, while men can delay ejaculation by tightening these muscles.

                        5. Flexibility Moves for Legs and Hips

                        Lion stretching

                          If you want to avoid getting cramps — or even worse, pulling a muscle during intercourse — you should do a few simple stretches every day. The more limber you are, the more comfortable you’ll be with more exotic poses. Here are a few simple stretches to improve hip and leg flexibility:

                          Take a few minutes to warm up with some light running or jumping jacks before stretching, and spend some 10 minutes on these stretches. You can do them in the morning and at night, or shortly before intercourse.

                          With just a few hours a week devoted to exercise, you can improve your relationship significantly. If you focus on these exercises, over time, you just might become dynamite in bed.

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