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Making decisions can be one of the hardest things to do in life, and with Christmas around the corner, the chances are you have a few to make during the toughest time of the year, especially for people with mental health issues. So, with that in mind, we thought we’d take a quick look at a few things you can do to help with your decision-making skills. But don’t worry, we’re not suggesting any books or courses that you need to go through in record time. Today, we’re talking about how having a regular hobby can help your mental health.
Relax your mind
Sometimes, life seems overcomplicated like there’s too much going on at the same time, and it all becomes a little too overwhelming. At times like this, a break from your hectic schedule can help a great deal but sitting on the sofa worrying about something isn’t quite going to help. That’s when a hobby comes in handy indeed.
Taking a break from your daily routine to engage in something that is both meaningful and enjoyable allows your mind to switch to autopilot. This time spent on something you love allows you to refresh your mind, and when you return to your daily routine, whether it’s work-related or not, you can look at problems with a fresh perspective.
But it’s not only about relaxation. You see, when you engage in a hobby like knitting, chess or even mountain climbing, your brain follows a linear path to achieving your goal whatever that may be automatically. You have a system in place, and your brain knows that it’s best to stick to the plan to get the most out of this hobby.
This subconscious train of thought is a form of analytical thinking, and every time you complete a game of solitaire or a jigsaw puzzle, you trained your brain in the process a little more.
It’s also why CEOs often swear by hobbies to improve their management and decision-making skills. And as you are aware, CEOs tend to spend a lot of time making decisions that could affect the lives of thousands of people.
So what hobby is best for decision-making?
The truth is that any hobby can help you become a more well-rounded individual, and this has a positive effect on your decision-making abilities. Still, there are some hobbies little better than others at helping you hone those skills. And the two most popular are, of course, chess and poker.
Professional poker player Liv Boeree told her Ted Talk audience that poker taught her a lot about decision-making and life. In her opinion, the game like life is one based on skill. She also talked about the element of luck in the cards dealt to you, but how you decide to play the game is what determines success.
Unfortunately, a good hand in poker is no guarantee of success. Likewise, a poor hand doesn’t translate to failure automatically. And as you can imagine, learning to play can teach you skills that you can bring into your everyday life.
With chess, you can see how your decisions impact the game. That always encourages you to play strategically and think several moves ahead. Such a strategic mindset is tremendously beneficial and something that we all can learn. Thinking three moves ahead and judging how your decision affects any future outcomes sounds like a solid skill to have, wouldn’t you say?
So, while you may feel inclined to assume that hobbies are a waste of time, trust us when we say that they aren’t. Not only can they help increase your levels of happiness but they can also offer you a sense of fulfilment and achievement that watching TV can’t. Add to that the fact that they improve your decision-making skills, and you have every reason in the world to pick up that guitar or deck of cards and start spending more time on your hobby.
Image credit: Freepik
Helen Bradfield did her degree in psychology at the University of Edinburgh. She has an ongoing interest in mental health and well-being.
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