5 hobbies that will make you happy and smarter, according to scientific studies

Is watching TV your hobby?

In today’s digital world, many of us tend to look at “screen time” as our hobby. When we get home from a stressful day, we automatically reach for the remote and binge-watch our favorite shows.

However, research says that watching TV is not a cozy, family activity. In fact, it’s considered as a solo activity and contributes to the widening of the generation gap between parents and teens. Although this study TV viewing is not “socially isolating”, it can still affect the quality of interactions negatively.

For one, a study says binge-watching television is associated with poor sleep in young adults. Results show that more than 80 percent of young adults identified themselves as a binge-watcher. Additionally, this group reported more fatigue, more symptoms of insomnia, poorer sleep quality and greater alertness prior to going to sleep.

“We found that the more often young people binge-watch, the higher their cognitive pre-sleep arousal,” said principal investigator and lead author Liese Exelmans, a doctoral candidate in the School for Mass Communication Research at the University of Leuven in Belgium. “That in turn negatively affected sleep quality, fatigue, and insomnia.”

Norman Doidge, a psychiatrist, and author of the book The Brain That Changes Itself also states that our heart rate and the brain tries to keep up with the visual stimulation and noises on-screen.

“Because typical music videos, action sequences, and commercials trigger orienting responses at a rate of one per second, watching them puts us into a continuous orienting response with no recovery,” writes Doidge. “No wonder people report feeling drained from watching TV. Yet we acquire a taste for it and find slower changes boring.”

How hobbies help you

There’s evidence that hobbies contribute to good health.

One study reveals that hobbies that involved imagination, learning from doing, and art and music benefited the person. Moreover, scientists who engaged in hobbies of this kind proved to be more successful.

Another study also shows that hobbies may protect your brain. The researchers found that there is an association between engagement in reading and hobbies and dementia risk in late life. The longer you do the activities that you like, the lower the risk of dementia.

Yet another research found that patients who managed to do their hobbies after being surgically treated with breast cancer helped them live longer. It also has a positive impact on our wellbeing which leads to lower blood pressure, smaller waist circumference, lower body mass index, and a lesser risk of being depressed.

Hobbies that make you happy and smarter

1. Photography

photography makes you smart

According to research in photography, looking through photo albums makes you happier than chocolate, music, or even your favorite TV show. In this study, Peter Naish, Doctor of Psychology at The Open University, compared the moods of people using four typical cheer-up treats with those browsing their favorite snaps.

The results show that the mood of those viewing photographs was consistently lifted by 11%. When you look through your personal photo albums, it produces a positive improvement in the relaxation, calmness and even their sense of being valued and popular. In turn, this results in an overall higher happiness score.

2. Meditation

meditation makes you happy

In 1992, scientists were invited to study the Dalai Lama’s brain waves while he was meditating. In the story, the researchers found that he could enter into a state of emotional being that was at a higher and deeper level than what most people feel.

By meditating, they became masters of their own thoughts and emotions.

3. Gardening

gardening makes you happy

According to research, gardening can lift your mood and can fight stress even better than other relaxing leisure activities.

In the study, two groups of people were told to finish a stressful task. After completing the work assigned to them, they were instructed to either read indoors or garden for 30 minutes. The results show that the group who chose gardening reported being in a better mood than the reading group. Additionally, the same group also were found to have lower levels of the stress hormone cortisol.

The reason could lie under the dirt — Mycobacterium vaccae. Research says that this bacteria can make you smarter and happier. The scientists behind the study believe that exposure to specific bacteria in the environment, already believed to have antidepressant qualities, could increase learning behavior.

“Mycobacterium vaccae is a natural soil bacterium which people likely ingest or breath in when they spend time in nature,” says Dorothy Matthews of The Sage Colleges in Troy, New York.

They observed that the mice that were fed live M. vaccae navigated the maze twice as fast and with less demonstrated anxiety behaviors. When the bacteria were removed from the mice’s diet, they ran the maze slower than they did when they were ingesting the bacteria.

“This research suggests that M. vaccae may play a role in anxiety and learning in mammals,” says Matthews.

4. Writing

writing makes you smart

A study confirms that expressive writing could be the difference between being stressful and blissful. It could be because expressive writing helps people make sense of bad experiences.

The research showed that writing for as little as 15 minutes over the course of three days brings about improvements in mental and physical health. Although writing about trauma is uncomfortable and depressing at first, the costs disappear and the benefits emerge after a 2 week period.

This study has been replicated too many times among arthritis and chronic pain patients, medical students, maximum security prisoners, crime victims, and women after childbirth, from Belgium to Mexico to New Zealand. The benefits are still the same — and they last.

5. Drawing and painting

pexels photo 374054 5 hobbies that will make you happy and smarter, according to scientific studies

Just like writing, art can also make people happy. A 2009 study showed that art therapy produced a positive effect among the prison inmates. The results indicated a trend towards significance in a greater improvement in mood and internal locus of control among them.

The reason behind this is because when you draw, dopamine is released. Thus, drawing results in neural interactions that give rise to pleasure, making you calmer and happier.

In conclusion, hobbies make life more interesting. Apart from putting colors into your life, it can also give you health benefits.

So, it’s time to look for a hobby now.

Picture of Jude Paler

Jude Paler

I am a poet with a positive outlook in life and a writer with a purpose in mind. I write to express my thoughts so that others will be inspired.

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