Hobbies are usually a routine activity that a person indulges in his/her free time. People adopt various hobbies from time to time as it is based mostly on personality traits of the individual. Some of the common hobbies found among individuals are Cooking, Dancing, reading, listening to music, painting etc. these give a sense of elevation and “feel good factor” for the individual. Productive hobbies such as Art, Music Is an important tool used in therapy.

Therapy in psychology is nothing but providing assistance to the individual who wishes to bring about some changes in his personal and professional life. Mental health is the most delicate and neglected health in a human being. The stigma attached to mental health is so strong and bizarre that humans don feel the need to get treated.

When we look at common mental illness such as depression and anxiety, hobbies are used as a byproduct to treat the illness. For eg: if a rape survivor is diagnosed with depression then he or she may repress the unpleasant memories, using music or art can help the individual channelize the negative energy and work towards finding happiness during the course of time.

For Generalised anxiety disorder (GAD), hobbies can be a great therapy to release the anxiety for the individual. For example, if the individual with GAD is required to make an important presentation at the workplace, then he/she may adopt her favourite hobby to accelerate the Feel good factor and thereby increasing the chance of motivation.

A few clients of mine have suggested that hobbies help them relax and keep anxiousness to a minimum. Some said that growing organic vegetable makes them feel calm as they feel empowered. Some say spending time with children help them relax and keep calm.

Other mental illness that does not pave a way to hobbies is Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD). This disorder is categorised into major mental illness and hobby can mess up the function of this disorder. Usually, BPD patients find it hard to keep up with normal chores and often maintain erratic or strenuous relationships with self and family. In this regard adopting hobbies can be tiresome. However, meditation and yoga can help to an extent. The patient requires medication and undivided attention.

Dance therapy or Art therapy is a happening trend in the treatment of mental illness. It is gaining popularity among the mass as it does not get technical and there is no medication involved. Dance therapy focuses on mind and bodily movements to bring the unpleasant and repressed feelings among individual. It dwells on the unconscious mind of the individual and helps to bring out hidden and hampering notions with the help of movements. The therapy would involve exertion of feelings in the form of drama, dance, role play etc. this brings about a great relief to the individual as it channelizes a way to vent out piled up emotions and feelings. Art therapy also has the same objective in mind, however; it caters to art, colour, paint to bring out the negative emotions in one’s life.

Shopping therapy is yet another hobby used to mental illness. When we deal with clients who lack self-confidence or who are conscious of their appearance or who simply lack motivation. We counsel them and instil confidence in them. We also suggest indulging in a shopping therapy or makeover session that enables the individual to feel confident to take over the world again.

Thus, therapy is an important tool to address and treat mental illness. It is paramount for every therapist to understand their client’s interest to a maximum extent before suggesting hobby as a therapy tool. In case of major mental illness, one must make the client feel absolutely safe before suggesting to take up various hobbies. In conclusion, I certainly feel that hobbies can be of great help to mental health patients, after all, it is the only activity/task that helps them gain control and feel confident about life.

Photo Courtesy: A Pretty Woman