Hobbies & relaxation
Self-care

Engage in creativity

Creativity and mental health and psychological well-being are liked.1 The most often cited definition refers to creativity as cognitive processes that result in work that is novel (e.g., original, unusual) and appropriate (e.g., useful, valuable, meeting task demands).2 Surprisingly, creativity has been traditionally linked to mental illnesses.3/4  

Lives of geniuses such as Picasso, Hemmingway, or Mozart were commonly wrought with some forms of mental health complications, mood disorders and substance abuse.5

Whereas it is true that many famous artists had likely suffered from mental health illnesses,6 for all of  us a daily act of creativity may increase well-being, personal satisfaction, and sense of achievement.7

Hobbies

Many people use arts and creativity as a vehicle to facilitate personal self-expression, such as art therapies or creative writing:8/9 

  • Many mental health experts build on the assumption that expressing oneself through arts may release mind contents and pent up emotions that could otherwise lead to obtrusive thoughts or distress.10 
  • A regular daily exercise in creative thinking can equip individuals with empowering problem-solving skills to deal with complex and ill-defined situations that could hinder them from attaining a fulfilling life and longevity.11/12/13 
  • Path to well-being is commonly paved with barriers that call for a fresh new perspective and from time to time require individuals to overcome their uncertainties and applying their own unique and appropriate solutions in precarious situations.14/15

Tips and recommendations

Let go of your fantasy and express it in a piece of visual arts,16 written story or poem,17 improv acting,18 or a piece of music.19 Don’t judge the product, remember that the goal is self-expression and self-appreciation of your uniqueness.20

If you are a more timid individual, you may engage in guided imagery or visit an arts exhibit to put in test your creative appraisal.21 Examine the uniqueness of your own mind.22

Music

Play or listen to music

Musicality belongs among the fundamental attributes of human species almost all cultures have developed in some ways. People listen to music, sing, dance, bounce, whistle, play musical instruments or enjoy the experience of music in other ways. Music has allowed people to express their feelings and communicate it with others.

Although from yet not fully explored reasons, music can make people of all ages feel energetic and happy, even when their mood is low, or when they are faced with mood disorders.1 The relationship between musicality and emotional competence has intrigued scientists for a long time showing positive associations,2 as well as connection with affect recognition and regulation, improvement in focus and learning.3 A rich research shows that music decreases negative effects of stress.4

Singing or playing musical instruments has been shown to have a positive influence on various subjective health outcomes, including anxiety and depression.5 

Indeed music therapy has become an accepted an effective practice in health-care contexts,6 however, even in non-clinical and self-care settings many people turn to music in order to explore and manage their moods and emotions.7 A recent study from Denmark has for example shown that musically active men and women were more likely to report good self-rated health compared with individuals who were not active musically.8 It has been also empirically substantiated that music is one of the most-used self-help strategies to promote sleep.9

Tips and recommendations

  • Listen to your favorite songs – take your time and relax with it.
  • You might, for example, make yourself a new playlist!
  • Play some songs that you like and perhaps combine them with some activities that you favor, be it physical exercise, dance, any creative activities, cooking, taking care of your home flowers etc.
  • Everybody has a different taste in music, but you may also try exploring it further by discovering new genres or new songs from your favorite musicians.
  • You can also try singing along, whistling along, or even start learning how to read notes or play a musical instrument.

Spend time in nature

Spending some time in a natural environment (or viewing it from afar) is beneficial for your well-being both in terms of physical and mental health.

  • Advising outdoor play in nature to children is a good way for addressing chronic conditions such as obesity and leads to better mental health; and what more, it is cost-effective and sustainable.1 
  • Furthermore, making time for nature reduces impulsivity2 and anxiety symptoms, relieves  of stress symptoms,3improves memory, attention and may have a beneficial effects on your general physical health,as spending time in the nature often involves mild physical activity such as walking.4

Important final note: above-mentioned beneficial effects are not limited to pristine wilderness, but may also include a park in your city!5

Spend time in nature

Tips and recommendations

Try to spend at least some time in the natural environment on a daily basis. You do not need to travel to the jungle every day. The walk through local nature or urban parks on your way to school or work may be enough. Also gazing from a local viewpoint to nature is worth considering. Nature offers us unlimited settings to observe and enjoy, so explore the nature around you!

Hobbies

Pursue new hobbies, find new interests

Although the connection between positive emotional states was observed to foster creative ideas,1 it is still much less explored how participation in creative activities might influence emotional states, reduce stress or anxiety.2 Early evidence suggests that everyday involvement in creative activities may lead to increased well-being, more enthusiasm and higher flourishing even during the days following after these activities.3 Indeed, effects of art therapy have a strong foundation in health care settings.4 

Creativity was found to have a relation with flourishing (i.e. eudaimonic well-being), a state of optimal functioning accompanied by a sense of purpose in life, feelings of meaning and engagement.5 

Research has shown that positive affect can be induced by listening to music,6 or that even dancing for a short period of time might increase positive affect and decrease negative affect.7 Even hobbies such as gardening have been found to have a stress-relieving impact, one experiment has provided evidence that it can promote relief even from acute stress.8

Tips and recommendations

  • Set yourself a personal goal to boost self-confidence and raise self-esteem.
  • Try learning to cook something new, get involved in some DIY project – fix a bike, repaint a plant container, knit, plant out some plants, construct some tool, write a blog, put together a music playlists, learn how to take or edit photos, or anything that suits your likes, today you can find lots of helpful materials online, like tutorials, resources etc.
  • It matters less what exact hobby you pursue, and more that it sparks interest and passion in you and you enjoy it.

Spend time with a pet or with an animal

Animals are a common element of human life and their involvement in mental health care is therefore not surprising. Inclusion of an animal in the Animal Assisted Therapy aims to improve the physical, emotional, cognitive and/or social functioning of the patient.1

Moreover, animals are often involved in animal-assisted activities in a form of recreational and visitation programs developed to help people with special needs. These programs involve various animals (mostly dogs, cats or horses) usually trained to be obedient, calm, and comforting.2 However, such interventions might benefit also in case of untrained animals of various animal species (even rodents, parrots, llamas, turtles etc.).

Spend time with a pet

The animal-assisted psychotherapeutic interventions show benefits in a range of behavioural and psychological symptoms,3 such as increased sense of comfort and safety, increased motivation, enhanced self-esteem, increased prosocial behaviour, and decreased behavioural problems.

AAT techniques have been applied in adults with depression, dementia, multiple sclerosis, posttraumatic stress disorder, stroke, spinal cord injury, schizophrenia4 and children with various disabilities. Moreover, animal assisted interventions found an important place in palliative care in paediatric patients5 and in elderly patients with dementia.6/7 Their interaction with animals seems to have positive effects in a form of pain relief, reduced depression, anxiety and aggressiveness and increase in social interactions.

Moreover, animals are often involved in physiotherapy and occupational therapy, represented in particular by a so-called hippotherapy, in which a therapist uses the characteristic movements of a horse to improve neurological functions and sensory processing in a variety of neurological disorders, such as cerebral palsy.8 However, the potential benefit of animal contact could be utilised also in our everyday lives.

Tips and recommendations

  • If you are the owner of a dog or other animal that will appreciate the fresh air, take the time for a walk that will benefit not only the animal but also your physical health.
  • Regular personal contact with an animal can enhance our lives. Take the time and spend it with your pet, which will appreciate it showing you its devotion. 
  • If you do not own an animal, ask for a visit from your family or friends with animals, or visit a farm or an animal shelter.
  • Do not be ashamed to talk to your pet or animals, even though animals do not answer, they are very sensitive to your voice and its tone.
  • Spend as much time as possible in nature; you can benefit from the fresh air, surrounding plants and enjoy local wildlife.

References

Engage in creativity
  1. Richards, R., (2010). Everyday creativity: Process and way of life – four key issues. In J. C. Kaufman & R. J. Sternberg (Eds.), The Cambridge Handbook of Creativity (pp. 189-216). Cambridge University Press https://doi.org/10.1017/CBO9780511763205.013
  2. Sternberg, R. J., & Lubart, T. I. (1999). The concept of creativity: Prospects and paradigms. In R. J. Sternberg (Ed.), Handbook of Creativity (p. 3–15). Cambridge University Press. https://doi.org/10.1017/CBO9780511807916.003
  3. Gostoli, S., Cerini, V., Piolanti, A., & Rafanelli, C. (2017). Creativity, bipolar disorder vulnerability and psychological well-being: A preliminary study. Creativity Research Journal, 29(1), 63-70. https://doi.org/10.1080/10400419.2017.1263511
  4. Kaufman, J. C. (Ed.). (2014). Creativity and mental illness. Cambridge University Press. https://doi.org/10.1017/CBO9781139128902
  5. Silvia, P.J., & Kaufman, B.J, (2010) Creativity and mental illness. In J. C. Kaufman & R. J. Sternberg (Eds.) The Cambridge Handbook of Creativity (pp. 381-394). Cambridge University Press https://doi.org/10.1017/CBO9780511763205.024
  6. Kaufman, J. C. (Ed.). (2014). Creativity and mental illness. Cambridge University Press. https://doi.org/10.1017/CBO9781139128902
  7. Cameron, M., Crane, N., Ings, R., & Taylor, K. (2013). Promoting well-being through creativity: How arts and public health can learn from each other. Perspectives in Public Health, 133(1), 52-59. https://doi.org/10.1177/1757913912466951
  8. Pennebaker, J., Kiecolt-Glaser, J., & Glaser, R. (1988). Disclosure of trauma and immune function: Health implications for psychotherapy. Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology, 56, 239–245. https://doi.org/10.1037/0022-006X.56.2.239
  9. Zausner, T. (2007). Artist and audience: Everyday creativity and visual art. In R. Richards (Ed.), Everyday Creativity and New Views of Human Nature (pp. 75–89). Washington, DC: American Psychological Association. doi.org/10.1037/11595-003
  10. Richards, R., (2010). Everyday creativity: Process and way of life – four key issues. In J. C. Kaufman & R. J. Sternberg (Eds.), The Cambridge Handbook of Creativity (pp. 189-216). Cambridge University Press https://doi.org/10.1017/CBO9780511763205.013
  11. Gordon, J., & O’Toole, L. (2015). Learning for well-being: creativity and inner diversity. Cambridge Journal of Education, 45(3), 333-346. https:// doi.org/10.1080/0305764X.2014.904275
  12. Levy, B., & Langer, E. (1999). Aging. In M. Runco & S. Pritzker (Eds.), Encyclopedia of Creativity (pp. 45–52). San Diego: Academic Press.
  13. Price, K. A., & Tinker, A. M. (2014). Creativity in later life. Maturitas, 78(4), 281-286. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.maturitas.2014.05.025
  14. Gillam, T. (2018). Creativity, wellbeing and mental health practice. Palgrave Studies in Creativity and Culture https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-319-74884-9
  15. Helzer, E. G., & Kim, S. H. (2019). Creativity for workplace well-being. Academy of Management Perspectives, 33(2), 134-147. https://doi.org/10.5465/amp.2016.0141
  16. Zausner, T. (2007). Artist and audience: Everyday creativity and visual art. In R. Richards (Ed.), Everyday Creativity and New Views of Human Nature (pp. 75–89). Washington, DC: American Psychological Association. https://doi.org/10.1037/11595-003
  17. Pennebaker, J., Kiecolt-Glaser, J., & Glaser, R. (1988). Disclosure of trauma and immune function: Health implications for psychotherapy. Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology, 56, 239–245. https://doi.org/10.1037/0022-006X.56.2.239
  18. Schwenke, D., Dshemuchadse, M., Rasehorn, L., Klarhölter, D., & Scherbaum, S. (2020). Improv to improve: The impact of improvisational theater on creativity, acceptance, and psychological well-being. Journal of Creativity in Mental Health, 1-18. https://doi.org/10.1080/15401383.2020.1754987
  19. Arbuthnott, K. D., & Sutter, G. C. (2019). Songwriting for nature: increasing nature connection and well-being through musical creativity. Environmental Education Research, 25(9), 1300-1318. https://doi.org/10.1080/13504622.2019.1608425
  20. Lepore, S. J., & Smyth, J. M. (2002). The writing cure: How expressive writing promotes health and emotional well-being. Washington, DC: American Psychological Association. https://doi.org/10.1037/10451-000
  21. De Rooij, A., Corr, P. J., & Jones, S. (2015). Emotion and creativity: Hacking into cognitive appraisal processes to augment creative ideation. In Proceedings of the 2015 ACM SIGCHI Conference on Creativity and Cognition (pp. 265-274). https://doi.org/10.1145/2757226.2757227
  22. Richards, R., (2010). Everyday creativity: Process and way of life – four key issues. In J. C. Kaufman & R. J. Sternberg (Eds.), The Cambridge Handbook of Creativity (pp. 189-216). Cambridge University Press https://doi.org/10.1017/CBO9780511763205.013
Play or listen to music
  1. Bonde, L. O., & Theorell, T. P. (2018). Music and Public Health. (L. O. Bonde & T. Theorell, Eds.). Cham: Springer International Publishing. https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-319-76240-1
  2. Theorell, T. P., Lennartsson, A.-K., Mosing, M. A., & Ullén, F. (2014). Musical activity and emotional competence – a twin study. Frontiers in Psychology, 5(JUL), 1–8. https://doi.org/10.3389/fpsyg.2014.00774
  3. Montello, L., & Coons, E. E. (1998). Effects of Active Versus Passive Group Music Therapy on Preadolescents with Emotional, Learning, and Behavioral Disorders. Journal of Music Therapy, 35(1), 49–67. https://doi.org/10.1093/jmt/35.1.49
  4. Pelletier, C. L. (2004). The Effect of Music on Decreasing Arousal Due to Stress: A Meta-Analysis. Journal of Music Therapy, 41(3), 192–214. https://doi.org/10.1093/jmt/41.3.192
  5. Ekholm, O., Juel, K., & Bonde, L. O. (2016). Associations between daily musicking and health: Results from a nationwide survey in Denmark. Scandinavian Journal of Public Health, 44(7), 726–732. https://doi.org/10.1177/1403494816664252
  6. Kim, J., & Stegemann, T. (2016). Music listening for children and adolescents in health care contexts: A systematic review. Arts in Psychotherapy, 51, 72–85. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.aip.2016.08.007
  7. McFerran, K. S., Hense, C., Koike, A., & Rickwood, D. (2018). Intentional music use to reduce psychological distress in adolescents accessing primary mental health care. Clinical Child Psychology and Psychiatry, 23(4), 567–581. https://doi.org/10.1177/1359104518767231
  8. Ekholm, O., Juel, K., & Bonde, L. O. (2016). Associations between daily musicking and health: Results from a nationwide survey in Denmark. Scandinavian Journal of Public Health, 44(7), 726–732. https://doi.org/10.1177/1403494816664252
  9.  de Niet, G., Tiemens, B., Lendemeijer, B., & Hutschemaekers, G. (2009). Music-assisted relaxation to improve sleep quality: meta-analysis. Journal of Advanced Nursing, 65(7), 1356–1364. doi.org/10.1111/j.1365-2648.2009.04982.x
Spend time in nature
  1. McCurdy, L. E., Winterbottom, K. E., Mehta, S. S., & Roberts, J. R. (2010). Using nature and outdoor activity to improve children's health. Current problems in pediatric and adolescent health care, 40(5), 102-117. 
  2. Berry, M. S., Repke, M. A., Nickerson, N. P., Conway III, L. G., Odum, A. L., & Jordan, K. E. (2015). Making time for nature: Visual exposure to natural environments lengthens subjective time perception and reduces impulsivity. PLoS ONE, 10(11), e0141030. 
  3. Kotera, Y., Richardson, M., & Sheffield, D. (2020). Effects of shinrin-yoku (forest bathing) and nature therapy on mental health: A systematic review and meta-analysis. International Journal of Mental Health and Addiction, 1-25. 
  4. Bratman, G. N., Hamilton, J. P., & Daily, G. C. (2012). The impacts of nature experience on human cognitive function and mental health. Annals of the New York Academy of Sciences, 1249(1), 118-136. 
  5. Bratman, G. N., Hamilton, J. P., & Daily, G. C. (2012). The impacts of nature experience on human cognitive function and mental health. Annals of the New York Academy of Sciences, 1249(1), 118-136.
Pursue new hobbies, find new interests
  1. Baas, De Dreu, & Nijstad, 2008
  2. Forgeard, M. J. C., & Elstein, J. G. (2014). Advancing the clinical science of creativity. Frontiers in Psychology, 5(JUN). https://doi.org/10.3389/fpsyg.2014.00613
  3. Conner, T. S., DeYoung, C. G., & Silvia, P. J. (2018). Everyday creative activity as a path to flourishing. The Journal of Positive Psychology, 13(2), 181–189. https://doi.org/10.1080/17439760.2016.1257049
  4. Bell, C. E., & Robbins, S. J. (2007). Effect of Art Production on Negative Mood: A Randomized, Controlled Trial. Art Therapy, 24(2), 71–75. https://doi.org/10.1080/07421656.2007.10129589
  5. Ryan, R. M., & Deci, E. L. (2001). On Happiness and Human Potentials: A Review of Research on Hedonic and Eudaimonic Well-Being. Annual Review of Psychology, 52(1), 141–166. https://doi.org/10.1146/annurev.psych.52.1.141
  6. Schellenberg, E. G., Nakata, T., Hunter, P. G., & Tamoto, S. (2007). Exposure to music and cognitive performance: tests of children and adults. Psychology of Music, 35(1), 5–19. https://doi.org/10.1177/0305735607068885
  7. Campion, M., & Levita, L. (2014). Enhancing positive affect and divergent thinking abilities: Play some music and dance. The Journal of Positive Psychology, 9(2), 137–145. doi.org/10.1080/17439760.2013.848376
  8. Van Den Berg, A. E., & Custers, M. H. G. (2011). Gardening Promotes Neuroendocrine and Affective Restoration from Stress. Journal of Health Psychology, 16(1), 3–11. doi.org/10.1177/1359105310365577
Spend time with a pet or animal
  1. Muñoz Lasa S, Ferriero G, Brigatti E, Valero R, Franchignoni F. Animal-assisted interventions in internal and rehabilitation medicine: a review of the recent literature. Panminerva Med. 2011 Jun;53(2):129-36.
  2. Marcus DA. The science behind animal-assisted therapy. Curr Pain Headache Rep. 2013 Apr;17(4):322. doi: 10.1007/s11916-013-0322-2.
  3. Amerine JL, Hubbard GB. Using Animal-assisted Therapy to Enrich Psychotherapy. Adv Mind Body Med. 2016 Summer;30(3):11-1.
  4. Charry-Sánchez JD, Pradilla I, Talero-Gutiérrez C. Animal-assisted therapy in adults: A systematic review. Complement Ther Clin Pract. 2018 Aug;32:169-180. doi: 10.1016/j.ctcp.2018.06.011. 
  5. Gilmer MJ, Baudino MN, Tielsch Goddard A, Vickers DC, Akard TF. Animal-Assisted Therapy in Pediatric Palliative Care. Nurs Clin North Am. 2016 Sep;51(3):381-95. doi: 10.1016/j.cnur.2016.05.007.
  6. Peluso S, De Rosa A, De Lucia N, Antenora A, Illario M, Esposito M, De Michele G. Animal-Assisted Therapy in Elderly Patients: Evidence and Controversies in Dementia and Psychiatric Disorders and Future Perspectives in Other Neurological Diseases. J Geriatr Psychiatry Neurol. 2018 May;31(3):149-157. doi: 10.1177/0891988718774634.
  7. Klimova B, Toman J, Kuca K. Effectiveness of the dog therapy for patients with dementia - a systematic review. BMC Psychiatry. 2019 Sep 6;19(1):276. doi: 10.1186/s12888-019-2245-x.
  8. Sterba JA. Does horseback riding therapy or therapist-directed hippotherapy rehabilitate children with cerebral palsy? Dev Med Child Neurol. 2007 Jan;49(1):68-73. doi: 10.1017/s0012162207000175.x.

 

 

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