Retirement can be a tremendous relief. Finally, after decades of working, you have free time. But just because you have free time doesn’t mean you’ll know what to do with it.
Mentally healthy hobbies are an excellent option for retirees looking to enjoy their newfound free time. Here’s a look at why healthy hobbies such as dancing and can make retirees feel young again, and how these hobbies can make retirees feel young again.
Why fun hobbies are Good for Mental Health
A mentally healthy hobby is any hobby that improves your mental health. Such hobbies improve your mental health by being engaging, stimulating, and fun.
‘Fun’ might sound like the wrong word in this context. Isn’t fun only for children? But having fun, at any age, can boost mental health. How? Having fun replaces bad stress with good stress. Good stress is called eustress, and, unlike chronic stress, which is physically and mentally harmful, eustress can be your friend.
Eustress is the kind of stress you feel when excited about something you’re looking forward to, like a vacation. It’s also the kind of stress you feel when you ride a roller coaster. Eustress helps you get lost in the moment. It also helps you stay motivated and set goals.
Some fun hobbies, like dance and art, are therefore healthy for you simply because they’re fun.
Dance isn’t only for the young and nimble. It’s far more accessible than that. If your body isn’t what it once was, low-impact dances can help you improve your posture, become more body aware, increase balance and strengthen bones, and let you have lots of fun.
Low-impact dances include salsa, tango, and ballroom dances. You can do these dances at home, or take lessons at dance studios, senior independent living centres, and community centres.
Learning how to dance may also boost your self-esteem and confidence. And of course, if you can dance up a storm in your older years, you’ll always have a chance of being the highlight of the party or the belle of the ball.
There’s a reason many people take up painting or sculpting after they retire. Painting and sculpting are not only intellectually stimulating and emotionally rewarding; they’re also very fun. Additionally, they embody the virtue of patience, requiring a careful hand and a thoughtful eye. This engagement with virtue and the pursuit of a creative outlet is a wonderful way to spend one’s later years.
Making art enables people to enter what psychologists call a state of flow. In this state, you become hyper-focused on what you’re making, so much so that you may not realise how much time has passed or even where you are.
A state of flow can be delightful and maximally engaging.
If painting or sculpting isn’t for you, you could try photography, drawing, or even filling in coloring books. You might be surprised by how satisfied you feel when you finish a book.
Having fun is healthy for the body and brain, and picking up a new hobby in your retirement years is a perfect way to have some healthy fun. Not only that, but having fun helps may help you get in touch with your inner child – with your inner desire to play, joke, laugh, and experiment. That is to say, if you have fun in your older years, you may feel younger than ever.
Robert Haynes did his degree in psychology at the University of Hertfordshire. He is interested in mental health and well-being.