Tuesday 7 May 2024
How Creative Hobbies Can Help Our Brain
Words by Madelaine Couch
In a world where productivity and achievement are rewarded, we have begun to spend less and less time on hobbies. By a hobby, I mean doing an activity purely for the joy it brings. It’s easy to think that spending time drawing or writing stories is wasteful, when we could be working or pushing on with our next business idea. But there are benefits to taking up hobbies such as painting, writing, learning an instrument and cooking.
In Anita Collin ’s TED Talk, How Playing an Instrument Benefits Your Brain, she shares research about how listening to music activates multiple areas of the brain. And when you play an instrument, it’s the brain’s version of a full-body workout.
Neuroscientists have discovered that playing music activates multiple areas of the brain all at once, including the visual, auditory and motor cortices. Regular practice strengthens those brain functions, helping us apply that strength to other activities.
Playing music has been found to increase the volume and activity in the part of the brain that connects the right and left hemisphere. This also helps with memory function, therefore protecting our brains from degenerative diseases such as dementia.
In Colette Brown‘s TED Talk, How Art May Alter the Face of Dementia, she shares how practicing art may help prevent cognitive decline. So, by taking up an artistic hobby, there are benefits for both our wellbeing and the health of our brains. Our brain can expand, depending on our capability of neuroplasticity. By learning something new, neurones change in the brain, and the more adaptable our brains, the better protected they are against neurodegenerative diseases like dementia. We can help our brains at any age, by increasing their plasticity potential and learning something new.
Too often, people don’t take up hobbies because there is pressure to perform and do things with skill. Especially now, as social
media feeds flood our phones, and we are exposed to beautiful, curated images every day. But what if we let go of the burden to be perfect?
What if we listened to our curiosity and tried something because it filled us with joy? By cultivating curiosity, we can embrace more joy in our lives and help look after our amazing brains. Taking up hobbies helps us process our emotions, and assists our wellbeing.
Continual learning sustains our ability for neuroplasticity, therefore protecting our brains from cognitive decline, whilst making life more joyful. It’s never too late or too early to start a new hobby.