Mental Health Awareness Month: The Power of Hobbies

When I was younger, I was a dancer. I was a tap, jazz, ballet, and Hawaiian dancer until I was in 7th grade. I remember those years very fondly because it was so much fun to be creative, active, and with other people my age. As I aged, my extracurricular activities drifted into drama and cheerleading/drill team. Once those extracurricular activities were finished for the season, I remember feeling very empty, like a part of my identity was missing.

Fast forward many, many years. It wasn’t until I became a mom that I realized that I needed something to do besides being a mom all the time. I took a pottery class when the boys were still little, and really enjoyed playing in the mud. When the boys became toddlers, I started scrapbooking.

When the depression hit, all of the hobbies that I enjoyed just came to a crashing stop. I ceased to care about doing anything fun because I felt like I didn’t deserve to do anything fun. (Yup, you gotta love that self-discipline when you’re depressed. /sarcasm) Again, it felt like a part of me was missing.

While I have endured the ups and downs of depression, I have realized that hobbies have been one great way to help lift myself out of the pit. Yes, at first it will seem overwhelming to start back into your hobby if you haven’t done in it a while because of your depression. You might not even want to do it because you feel guilty about wanting to do something fun.

Do it anyway. Listen to some music. Dance. Bring out your arts and crafts materials. You could even learn something new. The point of getting back into your hobby is to have fun. You need to re-energize that part of your brain that says “you know, life can be fun, and I’m going to be a part of it again.”

This past fall, I learned how to crochet. I can’t tell you how calming it is for me to take the yarn and the crochet hook and make something. I’m still a little overwhelmed about picking up my scrapbooking and rubber stamping again. I guess I’ll take it one step at a time.

That’s all we can do- try to take it one step at a time when we’re trying to take care of ourselves.

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2 responses

  1. I agree 100%. Getting through the depression is difficult, and whether it’s lack of worthiness (or, rather, the perception thereof), lack of energy, lack of motivation, or whatever, getting up and doing something you truly enjoy is a necessary part of driving yourself through the depression and back onto an even-keel.

    That is one of my major coping strategies and it really does work, at least for me. One of the things I hear a lot though is, “You make it sound so easy.” It’s not easy. It’s simple; “get up and do it” is simple. But it’s not easy. When you’re depressed it’s hard to actually enjoy things you enjoy (if that makes any sense), but you have to do it anyway…because doing it is the only way you build yourself back up to doing it.

    Great piece!

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