5 Hobbies That Train Your Brain to Stay Mindful

Mindfulness is a practice of giving attention to the present moment in order to better handle your thoughts and feelings. Mindfulness reduces stress and decreases the feelings of anxiety disorders by compelling you to focus your awareness on the present while calmly and non-judgmentally recognizing thoughts, feelings, and sensations.

But is mindfulness a hobby? No, mindfulness is not a hobby. It is a daily practice and a way of life. While mindfulness is not a hobby, there are hobbies that a person can do to cultivate mindfulness in their life. To practice mindfulness in a hobby, you need to select a hobby that requires 100% engagement in the current moment/activity.

You’re probably familiar with some of the most talked-about techniques, such as meditation, but there’s an increasing body of evidence to suggest that many long-popular hobbies can also serve as efficient mindfulness exercises because they prompt us to focus on the task in hand.

What many people don’t recognize is that many simple, everyday tasks can go a long way to increasing your mindfulness skills. In fact, you’ve probably already incorporated a few of these tasks into your daily routine.

Benefits of Mindfulness

1. Free-writing

Freewriting is the practice of continuously writing your thoughts for a set period of time, without giving attention to spelling, grammar, or even a topic. You don’t have to structure paragraphs or worry about adhering to writing convention; the point of this exercise is to promote a flow of consciousness, where your inner monolog flows freely onto the page. 

Studies suggest free writing has serious mental health benefits. Research published in the journal Advances in Psychiatric Treatment found that people who write about emotional, stressful, or traumatic events saw an improvement in their physical and psychological health. 

2. Coloring

Coloring books for adults have soared in popularity over the past few years – with many specifically marketed as the ideal remedy to modern-day anxiety and stress.

The theory? Coloring-in allows us to concentrate on the moment and so switch off from other worries. Creating your own artwork can have the same benefits, of course, because it requires you to focus solely on the present and what’s in front of you

3. Knitting or Crocheting

Knitting and crocheting both involve a deliberate focus on each individual movement in the creative process. The rhythmic nature of these hobbies — creating the same stitches again and again — is almost meditative. Not only are the recurring hand motions, continuous counting, and fixed attention on the work a stress buster, they can also ease chronic pain and stave off dementia.

4. Gardening

The proven physical and mental benefits of gardening are numerous. Whether you’re mowing a 60ft lawn or simply tending to a windowbox, it requires concentration on the task in hand and the prospect of a pleasing end result. For instance, just 30 minutes of allotment gardening each week significantly reduces stress and fatigue and boosts self-esteem, according to a recent study published in the Journal of Public Health.

5. Bird-watching

This is a hobby you can enjoy from your own home, simply by looking out of the window. Just taking a few minutes out of your day to watch the birds, focusing on their movements and interactions, can be a great opportunity to focus your busy mind on the present.

But to fully reap the mindfulness benefits, do try to get out into the great outdoors. Just five minutes of exercise in a green space, such as a park or garden, is enough to lift your mood, according to researchers at the University of Essex.

When developing mindfulness in people, hobbies are not what usually come to mind. But to the popular and tried-and-true methods– meditation, yoga – for building a mindful disposition, psychologists and analysts have found that hobbies are a great tool, too.

If you’ve never managed to master the art of meditation, there are other ways to train your mind to be still. A hobby is more than just a way to have fun. Picking up a hobby has myriads of benefits, such as the following:

  • A hobby can give you a sense of self-efficacy.
  • A hobby can be a creativity outlet.
  • Having hobbies will keep your brain engaged.
  • A hobby gives you something to look forward to.
  • A hobby can give you something to be passionate about.

When you are mindful, you are able to think objectively because you are present and focused at the moment. You see yourself, other people, and the environment without judgment. You can achieve this mindfulness through various methods, and pursuing a hobby is one of them.