Cultivate a Hobby or Learn a New Skill for Better Mental Health

Good hobbies are entertaining, fulfilling, and great for improving your mental health. Identifying and pursuing a hobby is just one more way to incorporate self-care into your life.

Additionally, those hobbies are a great way to help manage depression or ease anxiety. After all, a hobby belongs to you — you choose how you spend your time and you own the creative license that allows you to decide when, where, and how to create. Instead of using negative coping mechanisms to help deal with negative feelings and stress, you can put all of your attention on your new activities and create your own healthy coping mechanism.

The journey — and the outcome — bring a sense of accomplishment. Whether you’re finishing a sweater, testing a new gaming app you’ve created, or putting that model car into its display case, you’ll experience a sense of pride while you’re working on and after you’ve completed that project. Whether your hobby’s making art, volunteering and helping others, improving a personal skill, or sewing clothes for your children, that excitement you feel when you’re sketching out or in the middle of a project will give your life purpose and meaning. 

Learn to Play an Instrument

You can pick up a second-hand instrument, such as a guitar, at a thrift shop or even a music shop, which often also sells used instruments. Not sure which instrument to try? Check out these tips from US News on learning to play a musical instrument “on the cheap.”

Learn Something New Online

YouTube, Netflix, and various television channels such as PBS are rich in documentaries on a whole host of topics. Why not cultivate a little knowledge about your favorite actors, astronomy, world history, or something else that fascinates you?

Research Your Family’s Origins

You can start your journey through genealogy with a free membership to an online site like As your search widens and you begin to seek more information and details, you can expand your membership — as your budget allows. 

Get Outside and Garden

Whether it’s vegetables and fruits or flowers and herbs, gardening is therapeutic and fulfilling. All you need are a few packets of seeds to start. Or, you can visit your local garden center for greenhouse-grown starter plants. You can even take on some larger outdoor projects like tree planting and sodding.  

Pour Your Heart Out on Paper

Splurge on a couple of fancy writing pads and pens, pop on some music to inspire your inner muse, and write. Poetry is a wonderful medium for expressing your thoughts. You can challenge yourself with different forms or think outside the lines with freeform, freeverse styles. 

Brush Up on Your Cooking Skills

Watch the cooking channel or YouTube videos for inspiration, purchase a few new ingredients, and recreate a new dish. Brand new to cooking? YouTube and other websites offer free, online cooking courses. It’s really a useful life skill — and a great way to impress friends and family.

Fascinated by Illusion? Learn Magic

The internet offers plenty of tutorials on all manner of styles. Start with these fun tricks: learn to levitate a dollar or card in mid-air, change a card’s colors, or levitate a card from hand to hand.

Learn to Draw

Another great hobby for improving your creative and communication skills, enhancing strategic thinking, and releasing stress is drawing. This hobby requires only a pad, pens/pencils, and an eraser — but you can branch out to draw digitally, too. Whether you try your hand at landscapes, still-lifes, caricatures, cartoons, or any number of other ideas, the only “talent” that’s required is the ability to germinate an idea. 

Just Do It!

The best hobbies will relax you, bring enjoyment, and increase your skills. Some hobbies are solitary endeavors, while some encourage you to meet other like-minded individuals. Incorporating a hobby into your daily (or weekly) schedule gives you something to look forward to, a focus for your energy, and a healthier way to combat boredom and increase positive motivation.