Thursday, February 25, 2021

How Having a Hobby Can Lead to Better Mental Health Among Young People


Across the United States, it is not just the adults who experience high levels of stress. New studies have found that children and teenagers are as worried and anxious about certain factors in their lives as their parents, and sometimes even more.

The Effects of Stress

The data from the American Psychological Association, or APA, reveals that one-fifth of all children feel a great deal of stress. Among teenagers, the survey found that about 31% of respondents are overwhelmed while another 30% are sad or depressed because of stress.

More alarmingly, teenagers reported that their stress level on average is about 5.8 on a 10-point scale. Among adults, the average stress level is only at 5.1.

Some of the culprits behind stress among children and teenagers include pressure to get high grades at school, overstuffed daily schedules, bullying and teasing, media saturation, not getting enough sleep, and a lack of healthy outlets to destress. The recent public health crisis has also exacerbated the levels of stress that young people experience on a regular basis.

Stress among young people should be taken very seriously because it can impact their development and it can lead to mental health issues such as anxiety and depression. To address the growing problem, children and teenagers should be encouraged to pursue activities that they enjoy.

Hobbies: Solution to Stress Among Young People

There is still a persistent belief that hobbies are a waste of time. Adults would rather spend their free time doing activities that will help them move their careers forward or, because of their busy schedules, sleep. Children, on the other hand, are often too swamped with homework and projects or pressured to continue studying their lectures to improve their grades.

However, having a hobby is exactly what young people need to destress. Parents should allow their children to play video games with their friends on the weekends or get them a piano teacher if they want to learn how to play a musical instrument. Although these activities would not directly transform into better academic performance, hobbies impact their mental health in positive ways.

One study proves the effects of leisurely activities on levels of stress. They found that participants who engaged in enjoyable activities had lower blood pressure, lower waist circumference and body mass index, decreased total cortisol, and overall better physical function perception. They also associated these activities with lower levels of depression and higher levels of positive psychosocial states.

Another study discovered that people who participated in physical leisure activities for at least 20 minutes a week are less vulnerable to fatigue.

Why Hobbies are Great for Mental Health

Hobbies are fun, and there is usually less or no pressure to do them well. They learn it because they are genuinely interested in it, not because they have to. They can learn it in their own time without deadlines.

It, therefore, provides an opportunity for children to take a break in between their assignments and exams. It prevents them from feeling overwhelmed by their responsibilities in school and at home.

Moreover, some hobbies have a meditative effect that temporarily clears the head of any worries and fears. Knitting, for example, lowers heart rate, calms the body and mind, and releases serotonin, a hormone responsible for stabilizing moods and promoting feelings of happiness.

Some hobbies also create opportunities for young people to socialize. By joining workshops or online communities, children and teenagers get the chance to interact and befriend people who have similar interests. Hobbies widen their social circle which benefits their overall well-being.

In addition, hobbies create a favorable self-image. The youth is prone to insecurities because of the changes that their bodies are going through and the pressure to conform to group norms. When they have a hobby, they look at and treat themselves better. As they master a skill, they start to take pride in their abilities, and they gain the courage to share it with their peers.

Parents should never discourage their children from pursuing a hobby. All leisurely activities, whether reading a book or playing basketball, have positive impacts on a younger person's life. Reading can improve their creativity, for example, and teaches them new information. Meanwhile, playing basketball is a way to exercise as well as builds soft skills such as coordination, teamwork, and communication. No hobby is a waste of time.

Hobbies are more important now that children are stuck at home and cannot see their friends. During the pandemic, parents should encourage their children to pick up a hobby as a temporary escape from the constant negative news cycle and to make their minds more resilient to stress.

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