14 Unexpected Hobbies With Surprisingly Positive Mental Health Benefits

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Talking to a therapist or close friend, meditation, and exercise are the most popular ways of improving mental health. But did you know that certain hobbies could also offer the same benefits? 

Cleaning and Basic Maintenance

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Don’t shrug this as a silly tip. “If you try remembering that taking care of something is a form of appreciation, it can do wonders for perspective and mental health,” explains a user. Pick one item you want to clean and maintain, say your car, and watch how the satisfaction from doing it will grow on you. 


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Talk about free therapy, and walking does it. Get out in nature and listen to insects, birds, a flowing river, or your natural surroundings.

Also, watch how fast or slow you walk because, believe it or not, walking too slow could be a sign you are depressed. 

Solving Puzzles

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You probably know puzzles enhance short-term memory, problem-solving skills, and logical thinking. But did you know they can also ease your anxiety? “Puzzles help me focus and take my mind off anything I might be fretting over,” shares a poster. 

Taking Macro Photos

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Concentration is a must-have skill when taking macro photos, boosting your mental health. Moreover, capturing hidden details, whether unique features or flaws, is always rewarding. 

Listening to Music While Doing Nothing Else

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When was the last time you were fully committed to listening to music? Wait, have you ever tried it, or have you always been engaged in other activities? It’s about time you tried this as a therapeutic hobby!

Growing Plants from Seed

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“You can’t rush baby plants, making you slow down. At the same time, it’s so exciting to see how fast some seeds grow!” writes a happy plant parent. You can grow herbs, vegetables, carnivorous plants, or trees. 

Playing Dungeon and Dragons as a Family

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Playing DND with kids improves their vocabulary, communication, teamwork, problem-solving, imagination, and storytelling skills. In addition to keeping them mentally engaged, it fosters a happy home environment. 


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Watching and listening to birds is another therapeutic hobby you can try. One user says, “If only people would realize that birding is basically real-life Pokémon Go, it would be more popular. It’s such a fun reason to walk in the woods with a field guide.”

You could use the Merlin Bird ID app to identify and track different birds. 

Crochet and Knitting

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A user reports, “Doing something with my hands soothes my ADHD symptoms and anxiety. And having something to focus on distracts me from some depression symptoms.”


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“I played a few holes the other day, and from what I gathered from the intro lesson was, to play golf well, your body has to be relaxed,” says a poster who skeptical about it. You can also give it a try.


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The process of making bread, cookies, and cookies keeps your mind mentally engaged because you must accurately measure the ingredients and add and mix everything as required. When this mindfulness turns into accomplishment, you feel satisfied with yourself. And if you fail, it opens room to doing better the next time. 


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Geocaching takes you outdoors, looking for hidden geocaches, helping you explore places you’ve never been. 

Learning a New Language

You can also keep your mind engaged through learning a new language.

Jiu Jitsu

“When you’re on the mats, it’s really easy to forget everything else. I can rarely have my brain only thinking about the task at hand. But with Jiu-Jitsu, it’s hard for me to focus on anything other than what we are doing,” reports a user.  

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