There is a variety of studies that support the contention that learning new skills can play a significant role in battling age-related brain dysfunctions like dementia and Alzheimer's Disease. But there are also clinicians who hold the view that this practice can help with a variety of mental disorders.
For example, with depression, there is a tendency towards inactivity. But it is activity that pulls one from the vortex of depression and back into the mainstream of life. And the brain and one's attitude reap the benefits.
Anything that alleviates stress is good news for anxiety sufferers (and others). Well, a new hobby can do just that by breaking routine and by refocusing the mind on something pleasurable instead of the usual worries and obsessions.
And the hobby or activity can be practically anything you want. From knitting socks to cooking a new cuisine to playing flag football. Provided it's something new for you, and gets your mind focused on it, you're good to go.
A friend of mine was in a deep depression when she moved to a new city and tried to get into the habit of walking around her new neighborhood. One evening, she passed a knitting store and saw a group of women sitting around a table talking, laughing and knitting. She thought “I want to be a part of that,” and walked in to ask about lessons. The women in the store that night ended up becoming her good friends and she believes it contributed to pulling her out of her depression. As an added bonus, her family got some great hand-knit hats and mittens!
It's highly recommended that whatever you pick, you engage with others to enjoy it. And not online. Get out of the house and reap the benefits of a little social interaction. Isolation is not going to help restore your best state of mind.
Finally, why not consider volunteering? The options are endless; you're helping others as well as yourself; and you're likely to meet some pretty nice people too.
Always remember, if you have any suspicions that you might be suffering from a mental disorder, go to the Military Mental Health screening page and take a free, anonymous, self-assessment.
Adrian Zupp is the marketing and communications writer for Screening for Mental Health, Inc.