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Practicing Mindfulness by Engaging in Hobbies

Do you ever feel like you are running on empty even though you are seemingly meeting all of your needs with time to relax? It may be helpful to engage in more mindfulness activities to help you process your day and ground yourself.

The key to utilizing hobbies as a mindfulness practice is to focus on the task at hand rather than engaging in the hobby and letting your mind wander. The goal of focusing on the task is somewhat of a way to distract yourself from your thoughts long enough to feel grounded in the here and now. While many people can multitask, the brain cannot do two tasks at once at 100% capacity. A good way to test this out is to try to write a text message while on a phone call. Most people can do both tasks simultaneously but if you were an outside observer you would notice that the person's texting speed probably slowed down or there was a pause in the conversation. If you often experience having to do multiple things at the same time throughout your day, it can be really helpful to practice maintaining your attention on something positive that is easy to enjoy. Ideally, practicing mindfulness will help one feel more relaxed and teaches the brain how to slow down racing thoughts.

            Most hobbies you may already know about or have done yourself can be turned into a more mindful based practice. Hobbies can vary based on climate, culture, and accessibility. When determining which hobby you would like to try, it may be helpful to ask yourself how many days a week can this hobby be practiced based on your situation. Ideally you would be able to practice your hobby at least once a week if not much more frequently. Additionally, hobbies that are appropriate for mindfulness practices have some type of physical component that can further enforce grounding techniques. The easier the steps are to repeat when engaging in the hobby, the easier it can be to engage in mindfulness.

Examples of hobbies that can be made into mindfulness activities: 


Crafting- Crafting encompasses so many mindful activities that it would take me more time to write them all out than if I were to get in my car and drive to the nearest craft store. If you are looking for a new hobby to try and are interested in crafting, it may be easier to just go into a craft store and see what catches your eye. Pro tip: If you are trying out a new hobby it could be helpful to find a ‘starter kit’ for that hobby. That way there is less pressure on getting everything right the first time.

            Building figures/blocks- There has been recent trends of people of all ages building lego figures or structures. Building Legos can be a mindful activity because of the physical and repetitive element of placing brick on top of brick.

            Hiking/walking- If you live outside of the Midwest (where I am from), you may have more access to hiking trails or walking paths. Hiking can be incredibly grounding as the process of hiking stimulates the senses to take in the surroundings of the here and now.

            Cooking- Cooking for mindfulness is reserved for those who already enjoy cooking or want to get better at it. If you know you do not like any aspect of cooking a meal, it may be helpful to look for other mindfulness hobbies. When engaging in cooking for mindfulness, remember to take extra time to focus on all the feelings and sensations you experience when cooking (i.e. feeling the heat from the pot, the texture of the cutting board, etc.).

            Writing/reading (with some restrictions)- The reason there are some restrictions to making reading or writing as the content of each matters. If you are stressed out because of work, reading a book about how to get better at your job is not going to help distract your brain from thoughts about the future. Remember the goal when finding mindfulness activities is to allow your brain to stop thinking about the past or future and focus on the present.

As a disclaimer, not all hobbies have to be mindful in order to engage with them. The purpose of this blog is to discuss how hobbies can be used as a technique for mindfulness, there is still plenty of opportunity to engage in hobbies that are just enjoyable by themselves. I often hear people list off watching TV or movies as their favorite hobby. While watching the latest new series may be fun and relaxing, it is not necessarily a mindfulness activity because you are somewhat disengaging from your here and now when focusing on the screen.

Personal Experience with Mindfulness and Hobbies

            If you are having a difficult time trying to figure out which hobby you would like to use to engage in mindfulness with, it could be helpful to speak with your therapist about where to start. As a therapist I wouldn’t discuss hobbies and mindfulness unless I had experience practicing it. The hobby I use to help ground myself after each work day and practice mindfulness as a way to help process my day is crocheting. I’ve crocheted over a dozen projects with no goal other than engaging in the hobby for the benefit of relaxing and decompressing. I’ve noticed a difference in myself on days when I come home and crochet vs. days I come home and scroll on social media or watch a tv series. Additionally, I have found making miniature dollhouse scenes to be a very mindful hobby, but it does require much more preparation and clean up making it difficult to engage with unless I am ready to clean after. If you already have a hobby that you think you could be more mindful about, that's fantastic! If you break down the steps to your hobby there is likely some part of the hobby that you can intentionally use to ground you to the present and clear out any negative thoughts.

Written By,

Madison Repak, LPC



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