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How Hobbies Can Heal You and Fulfill You.

We all live extremely fast paced lives; we keep dodging demanding employers, try and keep up with techno savvy kids and worst of all dealing with the every day road rage. People are more stressed today than ever before. Though it is no surprise, given the extra financial pressure of supporting a family, and paying the mortgage in the current global downturn. A recent survey conducted by the American Psychological Association shows that 80% of Americans are worried about the economy, owing to the worst financial crisis since the Wall Street crash of 1929, and the Great Depression that followed. So it is not just us complaining about rising food and fuel prices, the whole world is complaining. With raising kids, caring for ageing parents and family, preparing healthy meals and getting enough exercise, people the world over are struggling to keep afloat and it is taking its toll on their lives and health. And this is the reason why it is very important to pursue inexpensive activities or hobbies that will relieve your stress level, and at the same time bring you joy.

Start living in the moment. True happiness comes from being engrossed in something that stretches you, which gives you a sense of purpose. Research have shown that having and practicing a hobby you love will offer you mental, physical as well as spiritual benefits to improve your health and all over well-being.

Some hobbies that distract you from your worries and anxieties by making you focus on the present includes making model cars and scale models, scrap booking, cooking, gardening and taking photographs. These are some ideas for us to become so absorbed in the moment that we are able to, momentarily, forget any other stress or troubles we may have. Such pastimes as knitting or making quilts brings a sense of peace and connectivity, it gives you a chance to reflect, to centre yourself, and to be quiet and contemplative. It can also even benefit your relationships with those around you, co-workers, friends and family, because we get “lost” in our hobbies, rather that caught up in the continual stress cycle. In other words, when you take some time out to do something that you love and enjoy that gives you pleasure, not just you but everyone in your life benefits from it. And having finished something you made or build with your hands, will make you feel extremely fabulous about yourself and about something that you have created. The creativity that is involved with any hobby and creating things with your hands is an all out feel good factor.

Pursuing a hobby can also have other benefits such as help stave off boredom and loneliness. Also trying new things and being creative, such as singing, dancing, painting or doing crosswords and brain teasers promotes brain plasticity, in other words it promotes your brain flexibility and growth. Such activities can even prompt your brain to rewire, which will fend off dementia and assist in maintaining a good health. When you stimulate and challenge your brain, your brain cells sprout new connections, called dendrites and new contact points, called synapses, which improve brain communication. So, creative stimulating hobbies can and will help you remain vital throughout your golden years.

To tap into the healing power of hobbies, here are a few guidelines to achieving just that.

1. Determine your personality first of all, then match your hobby to your personality. For example, if you are a detailed oriented person, you will like hobbies that require lot of precision, such examples are beading, making dolls or bears, or even decorative painting. In case you are a more spontaneous person, which likes to make a mess, you would not like activities that make you do a lot of measuring, that will only cause you frustration rather than relaxation. You might rather prefer ceramics, gardening or photography.

2. Rhythmic and repetitive activities such as knitting or sewing stills the mind and relieves stress, evoking a feeling of calm and enhances health and reduces the risk of heart disease.

3. Make sure to make time for your hobby, at least once a week, but ideally every day. For prolonged benefits it is advised that you spend at least 20 minutes a day on your hobby.