Mental Health Benefits of Leisure Activities No One Told You About
Leisure or recreational activities are often seen in the light of privilege. But what if I tell you that leisure activities are one of the best ways to cope with mental health issues and boost your mental wellness. Especially, considering our current lifestyle wherein we are busier than ever, finding a way to balance life pressures with physical and mental well-being has become important.
Interestingly studies, like the one conducted by American Recreation Coalition Study, 2000 also found a positive link between outdoor recreation activities and overall life satisfaction. This clearly indicates that leisure activities have heaps of mental health benefits to offer!
Don’t believe us? Continue reading and discover the mental health benefits of recreational activities with us.
What are Recreational Activities: To Begin With
Recreational activities relate to the things that people prefer to do in their spare time. It has an essence of leisure to it, which gives an individual a sense of enjoyment. It can be something as easy and relaxing as picnicking, or something as effortful and demanding as hiking. The ultimate goal of recreational activities is to leave an individual with a refreshment of strength and spirits.
Mental Health Benefits of Recreational Activities: The Perks
You might be wondering what mental health benefits can leisure activities possibly offer other than enjoyment, amusement, and pleasure. Well, there are quite a few benefits that these activities offer which makes them a great tool for boosting our mental wellness.
1. Reduced Mental Fatigue
With phone beeping every now and then, cravings for netflix binges, endless traffic hours, and other such distractions being inseparable part of our lives, our mental fatigue tends to increase. We have so many tabs open in our brain that switching between them drains our mental energy.
Here recreational activities work as a switch off and switch on button. It switches our mind off from these unwanted tolerances and helps us focus our energy in the right direction.
2. Lower Levels of Stress
I believe that one of the most cost-effective and effective buffers towards stress is engaging oneself in recreational activities. Performing leisure activities (especially, outdoors) reduces cortisol levels in our body. Thus, keeping stress at bay.
3. Improved Quality of Sleep
When we do not burn enough4 energy, our body does not get the message of taking rest. Here recreational activities can help by keeping us active during the day.
As a result of this our body feels the need to take rest and we are able to have a sound sleep. Plus, with this there is less tossing and turning before you dive into your good night sleep.
4. Elevated Mood
The sense of enjoyment that accompanies participation in leisure activities gives our brain a dose of happiness hormones. These hormones elevate our mood and end up making us feel happy.
5. Relieved Symptoms of Anxiety and Depression
Spending time outdoors or indoors doing things that you enjoy doing are shown to reduce the risk of becoming depressed or anxious. Along with this, the pre-existing symptoms of depression and anxiety also mitigates with the help of recreational activities.
6. Better Sense of Purpose
Having a purpose in life is what gets us moving. But when we don’t know what to do or how our day will look like it leaves us feeling confused and low. By figuring out a recreational activity and making it a part of your daily life schedule, you know that there is something to look forward to.
This gives us a better sense of purpose in our life. At last you will have something to do, giving a sense of responsibility, followed by a feeling of accomplishment when it is done. Now this sounds like a perfect pack of mental wellness.
7. Some Other Benefits
Your hobbies or recreational activities not only challenge us physically but also mentally. This further enhances our mental abilities like enhanced memory, improved problem solving skills, and better decision making.
Apart from this, recreational activities open room for forming new relationships. When you get a chance to interact with others through your hobbies, it opens room for new social opportunities. Thus, improving your self-esteem as well.
Recreational Activities What Studies Indicate: Looking at Science Behind It
Many studies have time and again found a positive relationship between recreational activities and improved mental health along with better physical health.
Study 1: Zhang J. and Zheng Y. (2017) conducted a study on college students to see the role of leisure activities in reducing their academic stress and enhancing emotional well-being. It was found that enjoyable leisure activities are linked with lower levels of depression and negative affect. Not only this, but recreational activities also lead to improved physical and psychosocial states.
Study 2: Unemployment is one of the leading factors of stress among young and middle-aged people. It can take on a lot from an individual at both physical and mental health levels. To see how leisure activities can make a difference here Goodman, Geiger, and Wolf (2012) conducted a study on unemployed individuals.
The results of this study indicated that leisure activities improve the individual’s perception of spending their time effectively. By providing a sense of daily structure, recreational activities improve the mental health of a person.
Bonus Content: A List of Best Recreational Activities
Stop scratching your head thinking about what recreational activities you can give a shot to! We have you sorted. We are sharing some of the most preferred and recommended recreational activities with you, as suggested by field experts.
Quickly add them to your timetable or to-do list and pave the way for a physically and mentally healthy life. You got this buddy!
- Spending quiet time alone
- Spending time unwinding;
- Visiting others
- Eating with others
- Doing fun things with others
- Clubs/fellowship, and religious group participation;
- Communing with nature
Looking at these benefits and studies that connect recreation with higher life satisfaction we are sure that you too are pumped to make recreational activities a part of your lifestyle. So, what are you waiting for? Get out and play!
Before that, don’t forget to drop down your favorite recreational activity in the comment section below, maybe you can find a leisure activity buddy to tag along with