When it comes to health and happiness, finding an exciting new hobby to try can have really great benefits. In fact, research shows that people with hobbies are less likely to suffer from stress, low mood, and depression.
When you think about it, it makes sense too. You get out of the house, have an opportunity to meet new, like-minded people, have a creative outlet and something to take your mind off your day-to-day, plus you never know, you may even find a new talent!
We've done a little digging and found a few hobbies that Kiwis are getting involved in right now. There are links to sign up below if you want to dip your toes in and try something new.
Fancy yourself quite good with your hands and not afraid to roll up your sleeves and get right among the action? Pottery is becoming quite a popularised hobby to pick up in New Zealand, with classes popping up, up and down the country. There are even entire studies (like The Clay Centre) dedicated to pottery for the community.
So why is pottery such a trendy new hobby?
Well according to Kate Ford of the Wellington Potters' Association;
"Our classes are full, and Wellington Potters is inundated with inquiries for membership. Lots of the new members are young people who are looking for a creative relaxation from work, something to satisfy the soul. People want things that are real, handmade. It's a reaction against the ready-made mass produced world. They want to play with clay because it's good for the body and the soul."
Not only will you have something tangible to take home with you and display, there are actually some amazing, proven health benefits of pottery, too. From improved focus and reduced stress, to the physical exercise of the hands and wrists - there really are only benefits to be gained.
We are so fortunate to live in such a beautiful country, where our Department of Conservation works so hard to keep our national treasures perfectly preserved and exploring the landscape is entirely free of charge. The perfect tramping arena is right on our back doorstep - so if you're looking for a new hobby, this is a great one to consider that's close to home.
There are many proven health and well-being benefits to tramping, too.
- Reduce stress.and induce relaxation. Going for a hike increases our blood pressure and cortisol levels, reducing stress and producing a calming feeling that can only be achieved by being completely immersed in nature. It's a great break from the 9-5 working week, and one of the reasons people become so addicted to tramping.
- Improve your overall fitness. Walking or climbing over uneven terrain uses 28% more energy than walking over flat ground, and in a single hour, can burn around 400 calories. It's undeniable that the physical benefits of hiking make getting out into nature worth it - plus, it's definitely preferable to hitting the gym!
- Reflect and clear the mind. A lot people who suffer anxiety and depression find that tramping and completely becoming one with nature is beneficial. You're able to spend some quiet time reflecting, and reconnecting with yourself without distraction. It certainly allows time to be mindful!
If you don't want to go at it alone, there are plenty of tramping clubs that you can join. Check out this Stuff article where their team joined the Auckland Tramping Club to give it a go - there are links at the bottom to join if it's something you might be interested in.
3. Board Games
By board games, we don't just mean the annual family argument over a heated game of monopoly. There are actually entire communities in NZ who get together to celebrate their favourite board game and play for hours - some competitively, other just for fun.
There's a brilliant list of the major board game groups across the country in this Seriously Board directory, but for your convenience, we've sorted some of the different game groups below so you can pick your favourite.
- Scrabble Group: a group that meets weekly and enjoys a friendly game of scrabble over a cup of tea (sounds relaxing, doesn't it?!). All ages and skill levels are welcome.
- Settlers of Catan Meetup Group: this group of Catan enthusiasts meetup on the first Thursday of every month to get in some wholesome world domination action. We'd highly recommend this one if you enjoy strategy and have a few hours spare.
- Auckland Articulate Board Game Meetup Group: if you're a lover of vocabulary and don't stutter through the 'peter piper' tongue twister, then this is the meetup for you. This group of all ages meet-up every few weeks (depending on levels of interest) at the Te Manawa Community Hub.
As for the benefits of getting involved in a board gaming community? Most of the benefits are mental. From improving your memory and cognitive skills, coordination and dexterity, and stimulating brain areas that are responsible for complex thought - you'll walk away from your meetings feeling cognitively challenged (in a good way!).
4. Pick up an Instrument
You're never too old (or too young!) to challenge yourself and learn that instrument you've been considering playing for years. The brilliance in this, is that there are so many options to choose from, and thanks to the abundance of private music teachers and community schools out there, you don't have to invest the money for a grand piano right from the get go - you can try your hand first.
You also might be quite surprised at just how many benefits for your health and well-being learning an instrument offers; as put by Einstein himself;
“Life without playing music is inconceivable to me. I live my daydreams in music. I see my life in terms of music... I get most joy in life out of music”
We think he was onto something;
- Music reduces stress and keeps you calm. It has a unique effect on our emotions, and has even been proven to lower heart rate and blood pressure.
- Increases deep breathing. Most of the time our breathing is very shallow, but activities, like singing or playing a wind instrument, require deep breathing from the diaphragm. This strengthens your lungs and respiratory system.
- Improves your fine hearing. Learning music refines your hearing skills by training you to isolate sounds as they occur. Studies have even shown that musicians are better at picking out specific voices and sounds in a noisy environment.
- Mathematics. Hard to believe at first, but when you think about it, learning music is all about pattern recognition, which is mathematical in itself. But even more than that, learning about how music is divided into equal measures and beats, and how those beats are broken up will really refine your logical reasoning.
If you're interested in picking up an instrument, there are a number of schools, private tutors and community classes available all over New Zealand. We'd recommend Google searching 'learn an instrument near me' to find the closest option.
A healthy home is the first step to a healthy life
If you're feeling like it's time to focus on feeling healthy, energetic and positive, take a look at the other blogs in our healthy home, healthy life series.
Remember, it all starts with a clean and hygienic home, so if you'd like to find out how you can make your home as a healthy as possible, download your free personalised cleaning guide, below.