Hobbies are healthy

It’s time to dust off grandpa’s old stamp collection because psychologists say hobbies put stress and anxiety on the back burner.

Not only that, hitting up a new hobby has similar health benefits to joining a gym.

Behavioural Psychologist Vishal Majaraj, of Azure Psychology, says hobbies contribute to good mental health, as they help a person detach from the stressors of life.

Dr Vishal Majaraj

Vishal Majaraj

“A hobby is an activity that provides respite from stress, which can lead to experiencing more pleasurable emotions,” Mr Majaraj says.

“Not having a hobby is what I call walking the tightrope of life.”

Mr Maharaj says that when he asks patients if they engage in a hobby the common response is “no”.

“Once the light bulb goes on people can start identifying what hobbies they would like to start,” he says.

“Once my patients commence their hobby and make it a regular activity in their life, they report much more happiness as well as relief from stress in their lives.”

Director of Wise Psych, Geoffrey Paull, says hobbies help people achieve their goals.

“People get satisfaction from achieving their goals,” Dr Paull says.

“And hobbies can help people make plans and find the motivation to complete them.

“This improves the extent or strength of one’s belief in their ability to complete tasks and reach goals.”


Adapted from statistics in M. J. Zawadzki and J. M. Smyth, “Real-Time Associations Between Engaging in Leisure and Daily Health and Well-Being.”

Mr Majaraj says hobbies offer similar rewards to exercise and help create positive behaviour.

“A hobby is an activity where one would feel a reward afterwards and that’s very much like exercise,” Mr Majaraj says.

“If you engage in something that gives you a reward there’s a higher chance of creating more positive behaviours.”

Dr Paull explains that hobbies and exercise improve your physical and mental health.

“Physical exercise mainly improves physical health directly and mental health indirectly, while a hobby improves mental health first and maybe physical health after by feeling better about yourself,” he says.


In a study called The Art of Being Healthy Christina Davies found that engaging in the arts as a hobby increased participants’ happiness, relieved stress and promoted relaxation.

Dr Christina Davies

“My research has found that engaging in the arts contributes to good mental, physical and social health,” says Dr Davies, a research fellow at the University of Western Australia’s School of Population Health.

“Art for recreation includes reading, listening to music, painting and attending arts events.

“These activities are a great way to stay connected to others.”

Dr Davies notes that some big Australian companies are introducing colouring books to help reduce workplace stress.

Colouring books are receiving a lot of interest at the moment because they are fun, inexpensive and great for increasing mindfulness,” Dr Davies says.

“A few big Australian companies like Bupa, ANZ and Wesfarmers have provided their employees with colouring books to help reduce workplace stress.”

Dr Davies says the Artist in Residence Program at Princess Margaret Hospital has also used art to provide children with a positive distraction while receiving treatment.

“The program had a beneficial impact on patient learning, health and wellbeing,” Dr Davies says.

“Participants indicated the program made them feel happy and relaxed.”


Hobbies are great activities until they take up all your money and time.

Mr Majaraj advises that, no matter how enjoyable a hobby is, don’t let it substitute your core responsibilities and cause problems in other areas of your life.

“A hobby can start taking up a lot of your time so one needs to be careful that it doesn’t take them away from their core responsibilities such as family time and work commitments,” Mr Majaraj says.

“Some hobbies can be expensive so people need to be mindful of not letting their hobby become something that can cause a problem in another area of their life.”

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