Tips & Advice

Why Hobbies & Interests are so important when living with a mental illness

When you are living with a mental illness it can be hard to even focus on your phone screen, let alone take up Equestrian classes or go for a jog.

However, through own self-discovery I have noted that when I am being creative, or outside or even doing something lying down like reading – this makes my mind feel free. I am distracted, entertained, I feel like I’m working on something and therefore developing skills without it even feeling like school or college. My mind is free, just for an hour or so, of niggling negative thoughts.

Do something creative

Recently I tried baking. Now, I’m known in my family as the family member who should stay away from domestic activities, mainly because I once tried to serve my family vegan mouse which had been made with avocado – and tasted like avocado. (I appreciate the vegan creativity with food but I’m going to be trying vegan recipes with a little fear forecast from now on) However – recently I made a banana and chocolate loaf and it was completely EDIBLE.


Yes it looks like a gooey mess in the picture but I swear it tasted okay – my boyfriend tried a piece and didn’t suddenly fall over so I would say that’s a win.

Creativity doesn’t just happen in the kitchen – I have always been a fan of painting, again – I’m no Leonardo DiVinci (I had to google which Leo was which as I nearly wrote the wrong one), but it’s the fun of the painting, not the finished product that’s important (I keep telling myself that). It’s a chance to just escape your thoughts for a bit and get your feelings out on paper. I love bright colours – so I just randomly created something with a lot (too many) bright colours that I would like to look at. Is it going to win an award? No.

It was fun to have an hour or so just concentrating on something for the fun of it.


There are plenty of things that you can do inside if you prefer to stay indoors – jigsaw puzzles, kitting, crotchety – or you can use a computer and design something, I used to love paint software when I was younger.

Join a group

I will never shut up about how good it is to join a group where you have interests in common – it’s a space to go and chill and you all have a definite subject you can talk about! I can’t tell you how much I would love to create a knitting group called Bitches N Stitches (it would catch on) and start up my knitting again.

Even going for a walk with a group (see ECBC’s event page for our Walk and Talk event dates) or joining a local netball/football team – this can have such a positive impact on your mental health.

Photo of TRIBE MCR. who run a weekly group work out session.

Hobbies and Interests are something that may seem small but have a massive impact on your day-to-day lives.

What do you like to do in your spare time? x

17 thoughts on “Why Hobbies & Interests are so important when living with a mental illness”

  1. I agree – l find it so hard to motivate myself when I’m down but reading and drawing really help. I’m still struggling with this with my partner though as he just has no attention span… It’s a work in progress!

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  2. Haha I think I’ve posted a few of those ‘creative’ vegan substitute recipes before. I’m not a fan of the avocado mousse either, but you need a REALLY ripe one for it to not taste like avocado. I used to say cooking was my hobby but it doesn’t really feel like a hobby any more now I have a food blog x


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  3. Absolutely agree. Doodling, reading physical books, and walking around listening to music really helps me. I am also learning Chinese, so I sometimes spend time just tracing Chinese characters!

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  4. I’m so glad you’re aware how important interests and hobbies are! I spent almost 2 years doing absolutely nothing I enjoy – I was working, sleeping, cleaning, cooking, watching tv on autopilot and miserable. It’s something I’m working on this year and I’m so much better for it already. I go to dance class every week (post coming next week) and I’m writing again. Yes I still watch tv but in smaller doses which actually makes it more enjoyable when I’m doing it! All the best! Amy x

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  5. I completely agree with you on this. Having something to do, especially involving your hands, but also your mind is great. I recently took up crochet and I find it is so relaxing (well most of the time at least, haha) and so when I’m having a rough day I pick up my yarn and hook and let the world melt away. I know of a crochet/knitting group near me who go by Stitch ‘N Bitch, maybe I should join them.

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  6. Such good advice here! I feel the same way about finding something positive to engage your brain to distract from negative thoughts. Baking, exercising and blogging are my go-tos!

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  7. I have chronic pain conditions, and everything you’re written applies to that too. It’s so important to do things to keep your mind active. Great post and the banana and chocolate loaf sounds lovely.

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  8. I agree. I started baking to help with my mental health. I never thought I’d be any good but I’m getting better the more I do it. I also like reading, writing and going to the theatre. I’d like to get into scrapbooking or drawing. I’m looking for work at the moment and I find it hard gaining a balance between the self care that comes from hobbies and the self care that comes from hard stuff that will hopefully bring me more long-term happiness.

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