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Exploring Life Attachments Part 4: How Hobbies Affect Your Health

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Like many adults, you may view hobbies as lifelines. While many can improve your health, some include physical risks. Learn to reduce harmful effects and encourage beneficial results to enhance your wellness. Save time for other life attachments including friends, work, technology and pets while adhering to diet, exercise and medication plans. You can save more time for hobbies by cutting down on time running errands, like receiving mailed prescriptions from an online Canadian pharmacy instead of waiting at a regular pharmacy.

Advantages Improve Health and Well-Being

Research connects enjoyable leisure activities with lower stress, blood pressure, total cortisol (your primary stress hormone), waist circumference, body mass index and depression. Such activities also correlate with perceptions of better physical function and higher positive psychosocial states. Reduce stress. If you’re coping with a busy or stressful schedule, you may need hobbies more than people who lead quiet, relaxed lives. Be selfish during your work- and responsibility-free time. Do something you enjoy with a purpose so you feel productive. Whether you’re decorating a cake, drawing cartoons, gardening or playing the piano, challenge yourself to block everything else from your mind. Concentrating on your personal skills to achieve a goal can put you in a near-meditative state where you lose track of time. Engaging fully in a task you enjoy can reduce stress while creating a gratifying sense of well-being. Avoid burnout. Hobbies give you something to look forward to after a hard work day or week. Research shows physical activities like dancing, horseback riding, martial arts and tennis can help people avoid job burnout. A study found that people who engage in active pastimes for at least 20 minutes a week are less susceptible to fatigue. Build social connections. Many hobbies like barbershops quartets, bridge clubs, creative writing groups and knitting circles also provide social interaction. Activities that connect you with others offer the added benefits of friendship and support that improve physical and mental health. Improve memory. Shake up your routine by developing new skills. Especially in older people, mastering hobbies like needlepoint, new hobbies2languages, home movie making and digital photography can help keep your mind sharp and improve your memory. Find meaning. Logotherapy, a psychotherapeutic technique, asserts striving to find the meaning of life is a person’s primary motivational force. When used to help terminally ill patients, awareness allowed them to overcome personal issues, set future goals and focus on meeting them. Research showed people chose hobbies or activities that held special importance in their lives. Some had a desire to paint so something would outlast their lifetimes. Others reported engaging in a hobby was cathartic by providing a way to channel and exorcise much of their pain and hurt. Boost mental health. Deal with depression, anxiety and anger by using your personal talents and passions regularly. Research shows pursuing activities you enjoy or excel at naturally can boost mental health. An in-patient mental health facility helps residents redevelop long-lost hobbies. Due to their mental conditions or major life events, many lost their identities and/or self-esteem. When therapists encouraged patients to set aside hobby time, they noticed a marked improvement in their mental health and overall well-being.

Adverse Health Consequences

Chemical exposure. Constructing model cars, airplanes and ships with plastics, glues and paints involves potential health hazards. Short-term risks include hand and eye Injuries from cutting, grinding and chemicals. Long-term effects include allergic reactions to chemicals, respiratory system problems due to chemical overexposure and brain damage from solvent overexposure. Lead poisoning. Hobbies that expose you to lead can be hazardous to your health. Refinishing furniture, hunting, fishing, firearm practice and making ceramics, pottery, stained glass and jewelry may increase your lead poisoning risk. Your body can discharge a minimal quantity of lead. Exposure to small amounts over time or one large dose, though, is more than your body can clean out. After inhalation, lead enters your bloodstream, which distributes it throughout your body. If your lead concentration is high enough, health effects will occur. Lead interferes with multiple body processes and is toxic to many organs and tissues including your bones, heart, intestines, kidneys, nervous and reproductive systems. Symptoms include abdominal pain, anemia, confusion, headache and irritability. Severe cases can cause seizures, coma and death. Extreme sports. Thrill-seeking hobbies that jeopardize your safety also drive up term-life-insurance rates. Some companies may exclude you from coverage if they determine you take extreme risks. Dangerous activities insurers deem as liabilities include aviation, car/motorcycle/powerboat racing, base jumping, bungee jumping, skydiving, hang gliding, hot air ballooning, rock climbing/mountaineering, skiing, scuba diving, surfing and white water rafting.

How to Minimize Health Risks

Protect your safety by picking interests that are appropriate for your age and physical abilities. Recognizing the risks of hobbies that involve lead and chemical exposure and practicing safe prevention techniques can help reduce your health risks. Take precautions, like working in ventilated areas with adequate lighting, wearing protective gear (safety goggles, respiratory or dust masks, gloves) and washing your hands before eating or drinking. Reconsider pursuing an extreme sport that could cause permanent disability, paralysis or death. Hobbies should enhance, not endanger, your life. Choose leisure activities that give you a break from everyday responsibilities while promoting relaxation and happiness.

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