Get a hobby: That’s the very simplistic piece of advice that is often given to those looking to enhance their mental wellbeing. A hobby, by its very nature, is meant to be relaxing and is designed to take us away from the stresses and strains of everyday life.
Some may even look to take up a hobby with a view to pursuing an alternative career. It’s at this point, however, that the relaxation element may start to fade. The psychological challenges of many hobbies could be a barrier to that much-desired career change.
A Delicate Balance
A hobby should certainly test the mind but not to the extent where it starts to add to your tension and frustration. As an example, by taking up gardening you can get into the outdoors and enjoy the fruits of your labours at harvest time in exchange for just a few hours every week.
Having understood the basics, some may want to consider gardening as a profession. Suddenly, there are college courses to undertake and it becomes more important to study soil types and to memorise Latin names of various plants.
Other hobbies such as creative writing can also take a turn when they are looked at in a more serious context. It’s all about striking a balance between fun and serious mental exertion.
So what hobbies will offer a psychological element without taking things too far? Writing is a good example and is just part of a series of creative pastimes that can help to benefit the mind.
Painting, drawing, writing and photography can all fall under this umbrella but it’s that writing element that really tests the mind. When constructing a work of fiction, the need to fire up the imagination in order to create a fantasy world is vital.
For true life stories, the element of research starts to take over. If your work carries some incorrect facts, you can be certain that someone will point it out, even if the book doesn’t make it into wider circulation.
For those who are looking for a publisher, the need to push yourself mentally becomes more crucial. With a number of self publishing platforms, more writers are getting into print than ever before so this is definitely a hobby that can push you psychologically.
Playing the Tables
Many of us played card games in our youth and some will look to return to those games in later years. The advent of mobile play has made it easier than ever to access popular titles such as solitaire.
In later years, this can often be the time to take up games that are rather more complex. Cribbage, Bridge and Poker are among the more appealing titles that can serve as a useful hobby.
All of those games can test our cognitive abilities: Cribbage requires mathematical skills while both poker and bridge demand analysis and perfect judgement. Poker can also be a game where the psychology of risk taking comes under scrutiny.
In general, there are lots of games that provide a mental test but those that involve a deck of cards could be the most beneficial.
Learn to Play
Music is another element that is instilled in us as children but we tend to lose our skills in this area in later life. Those that have a talent to play can easily pick this up as a hobby moving forward.
Musical instruments can range in price and it’s possible to pick up second hand items for those who want to test things out before committing on a more serious basis.
This is a hobby that can test both physical and mental faculties. In terms of psychology, the most important quality that you may need at this point is determination. Those who want to learn an instrument from scratch may need to be in it for the long haul.
As for a step into the professional field, it may be too late to sell out Madison Square Garden but an open mic session at the local bar may not be out of the question.
Take the Tests
Taking an exam is something that most of us wanted to leave behind at college. The thought of sitting at a desk and being fully tested is alien to most adults but exams in the digital age don’t have to be as intense as the ones from our youth.
Online courses can be taken at a pace to suit the student and they come in all manner of subjects. Ever wanted to study the feasibility of the existence of Bigfoot and the Loch Ness Monster? The Cryptozoology Diploma is the course for you.
Everything from advanced Latin to flower arranging is online and many users get involved in them, specifically for self-improvement. Courses can also range from very basic introductions all the way up to degree level so there is the possibility of training for a new career.
Expanding your Horizons
A hobby can offer advantages in many ways: There are those that offer pure relaxation and a way in which to shut the door on work and switch off completely. Others can test our limits, both physically and mentally.
Those looking at a potential change in career can consider the many ways in which psychology is used to change our outlook. As for the choice of hobby, there really are no limits other than the ones that we place on ourselves.