It’s not hard to see why so many people are talking about mindfulness. Mindfulness decreases stress and minimizes the symptoms of anxiety disorders by requiring you to focus your awareness on the present while calmly and non-judgmentally acknowledging thoughts, feelings, and sensations. Meditation and yoga are heralded as the best ways to practice mindfulness, but they’re not attainable for everyone.
Hobbies, however, are.
Working on a hobby allows you to take leave of your routine surroundings both mentally and emotionally. This diversion gives you an opportunity to relax and examine your emotions. Hobbies also encourage going into a state of “flow” — that is, being so engrossed in an activity that you lose sense of time and yourself.
If you’re looking to be more mindful this year — but meditation and yoga isn’t your thing — consider trying one of the following hobbies.
If you haven’t already dipped your toes into the world of adult coloring books, you’re missing out. Coloring is one of the best ways to ease anxiety and stress. As you color in your design of choice, you become completely focused on the moment, feeling the sensation of moving marker/pencil against paper and taking in the smell of the materials. Your worries seem to float away. While there are multiple coloring apps for smartphones and tablets, nothing beats the real thing. Invest in a couple coloring books and some quality markers or pencils and get started today — you won’t regret it.
The mental and physical benefits of gardening are both proven and plentiful. But gardening is also an incredibly mindful activity. Gardening requires near daily pruning, trimming, fertilization, watering, and weeding — and these activities call for concentration as you must be present in order to do what’s necessary to help your plants thrive. Spending time in the garden is also a wonderful way to connect with nature. The warmth of the sun; the feeling of the cool, moist soil on your hands; the sounds of birdsong and wind chimes — all are a powerful antidote to noisy, stress-filled working environments.
Knitting or Crocheting
Knitting and crocheting both involve deliberate focus on each individual movement in the creative process. The rhythmic nature of these hobbies — completing the same stitches again and again — is almost meditative. Not only are the recurring hand motions, constant counting, and fixed concentration on the work a stress buster, they can also ease chronic pain and stave off dementia! If you’ve never knitted or crocheted before, look for online tutorials that start you off easy. A scarf is always a fantastic project for beginners!
Learning Something New
If you have a natural desire to learn, mastering a new skill or expanding your knowledge on a subject is an excellent way to both improve yourself and practice mindfulness. You can do this in one of two ways. The first is self-directed learning — reading books, watching tutorials, and researching your skill/subject online. The second is guided learning, either through one-on-one teaching or in a classroom. The intrinsic motivation and clear goals that come with learning something new both help to get you deep into that state of flow — and once you’re there, mindfulness comes second nature.
If you do take a class, find one that’s taught using adult learning theory (curriculum designed specifically to meet the educational needs of adults), as you’re more likely to fully comprehend and be able to use this new information in the future.
You wouldn’t think metal detecting would be a particularly mindful hobby, but you might be surprised. The gentle side-to-side sweeping, the squeaks and blips of the machine, the feeling of digging into the sand or soil to recover a find — all work to put you into a frame of mind perfect for practicing mindfulness. Focusing on traversing the terrain and interpreting the sounds of the machine can help you to clear your mind and focus on your inner voice. And since metal detecting often requires trips to beaches, parks, fields, and forests, you also have the loveliness of nature to support you in your pursuit of mindfulness.
Do your research and find a machine that will work well for the soil content in your area. You may want to consider renting a metal detector before buying one to determine if the hobby is right for you. As you explore your surroundings, be sure to stick to the treasure hunter’s code of ethics — no trespassing, littering, or leaving excavations unfilled.
No matter what material you choose — wood, metal, plastic, or Lego — building a model can be a great way to practice mindfulness. Your mind goes quiet as you search through your kit, finding the right pieces and following the instructions to put them in place. Building a model calls for calm and cognitive thinking, requiring your full attention and giving you a great outlet for creativity. There are so many model kits available that it can be hard to choose what to do first. I recommend starting with a beginner model and asking yourself what you plan on doing with it once you have finished. You’ll want to choose something worthy of displaying in your home.
Hobbies aren’t just an enjoyable break from the rigors of work and home life; many are inherently mindful activities that can help you to achieve emotional balance. If being more mindful is your goal for 2019, it’s time to break out the legos and coloring books and get your hobby on — a happier, more stress-free you is waiting.
Do you practice mindful hobbies?
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