How Hobbies Can Combat Mental Health Struggles

Our struggles never seem to ease away, but with something you are passionate about, you can feel at home. Starting an activity to moderate your emotions can help prevent further burnout.


Ivana Figueroa via Canva

Life has several obstacles and no human struggles are all the same. Whether it’s athletics, academics, or fine arts, it’s important to pursue something you are passionate about so you can learn more about yourself and what makes you happy.

Ivana Figueroa, Staff Writer

It’s the middle of the school year and you are overwhelmed with everything going on around you. You decide to sign up for an extracurricular activity because it seems like something you would enjoy, despite having general conflicts with your day-to-day life. At the end of the day, you realize it’s not just the people there that feel like a support, it’s the hobby itself that makes you feel at home. “For me sports has improved my mental health in many ways, especially since I started high school,” sophomore Nanci Marcello said. 

Marcello has been a part of the Rock Ridge athletics program since freshman year, and was previously part of the girls varsity field hockey team for the fall season and the girls varsity lacrosse team this spring season. “It kinda gives me space from my thoughts and keeps my mind focused on sports instead of whatever’s on my mind,” Marcello said.  “Sports in general just made me who I am today.” 

Believe it or not, taking an extracurricular can actually improve your academic skills. According to 

an article from Stanford titled “Why Hobbies At College Are No Less Important Than Classes,” hobbies can improve creativity and  relieve stress off exams. Improving creativity means a boost in your academic performances by being inspired and thinking critically of the skills you already earned from your hobby. 

Rock Ridge Performing Arts member junior Hayley Sutton has been in several productions in the theater program at Rock Ridge, and is inspired by the skills she collected from theater. “This helps me with my academics because it gives me an open mind, creativity, and allows me to collaborate with others,”  Sutton said. Sutton takes theater as a stress reliever when it comes to school. “Being involved in theater has helped me get a break from all the stress and homework that comes with school, and just do something fun where I can be myself, and make friends,” Sutton said.

Can hobbies both relieve and  create stress? Sophomore Hannah Tyson has been doing dance for years, and dance is the hobby she goes to when she feels stressed. “It allows me to express my feelings and get out my frustrations/sadness in a healthy way, and I always become more relaxed when I dance, it’s like all those bad things can’t get to me anymore,” Tyson said. Despite the positive effects dance has on Tyson, hobbies can also hurt Tyson more than help her. “The main way this can happen is when I use my hobbies as an excuse or distraction instead of an escape, I evaluate what I’m trying to avoid and try to face it if I can,” Tyson said. 

Tyson takes on the importance of taking care of yourself when struggles happen.“You have to recognize that you are struggling and accept that it’s ok, and try taking a break from a sport and see how you feel, and everyone’s different, so no ones going to heal the same way,” she said. “It might not work for you and that’s okay,” Tyson said. When you feel hurt from your hobby, communication is key. “Try talking to someone, it can be anyone you feel comfortable with, and start small, it’s normal to feel uncomfortable when talking about your struggles, and never try to go through it alone,” Tyson said. 

Maybe extracurricular activities are too big of a time commitment. Instead, try an at-home hobby for yourself. Practicing self care if you are overwhelmed is most important, even if you are taking a shower, eating, getting dressed, and simply taking care of mandatory needs. 

When Tyson isn’t dancing, for example, she loves doing self care activities for herself.  “I love baking and reading to release stress, Tyson said. “I like the mindlessness of baking, and also experimenting in the kitchen, but the best part is eating what you’ve made at the end and sharing it with others to see what they think of what I’ve made. And reading just lets you escape to a new world entirely different from your own, it’s like a little escape that you can enjoy whenever you want.” 

Hobbies aren’t just something people love doing, but they have a deep impact on someone’s life. I do theater myself, and I’ve experienced a change to my overall creativity and mental health. By doing  hobby/extracurricular activities, you can help give yourself a distraction from what’s bothering you, and make yourself a better person.