Numerous scientific studies show that having an enjoyable hobby helps minimize the negative effects of chronic stress, is a positive factor in the treatment of depression and helps you learn to enjoy life. But scientific research is one thing, and concrete examples are another.
Hiking as a way to find yourself and find the meaning of life
In 1991, while young, newly married Cheryl Strayd graduated from university, her mother died of lung cancer. This loss unsettled the girl. She could not get her diploma, began to cheat on her husband, and as a result, she finally destroyed her marriage, got involved in a toxic relationship and began to take heroin.
After several years of consistent self-destruction, she unexpectedly for everyone (and above all for herself) set off on a multi-day hike along the so-called Pacific Trail - a difficult tourist route 4279 km long along the Pacific coast of the United States. Having overcome this path, Cheryl realized that she liked two things: traveling and writing. She began collaborating with magazines, graduated from the University of Syracuse with a degree in literary skill, wrote four successful books and won several prestigious literary awards.
Learn more: Hiking the Pacific Trail became the basis for Cheryl Strayed's autobiographical book Wild. Dangerous Journey as a Way to Find Oneself”, based on the book, the film“Wild”was filmed with Reese Witherspoon in the title role.
Falconry to fight depression
When British photojournalist Alisdair MacDonald died of a heart attack at 67, it came as a complete surprise to his entire family. The death of his beloved father was especially hard on his adult daughter Helen. Trying to cope with the pain of loss, she suddenly decided to have a goshawk.
Falconry has been Helen's passion since childhood, and her father has always supported her in this passion, but goshaws are a special case. This is a very complex bird. Traditionally, it is believed that training a hunting hawk requires unlimited patience, complete self-denial and, at least in the first stage, almost complete isolation from society. Helen thought that this was exactly what she needed now.
However, it turned out that this does not help to survive the grief. On the contrary, every day Helen sank deeper and deeper into the abyss of depression. Fortunately, thanks to her passion for falconry, she met people who became her real friends. Their support and shared passion helped her get through difficult times.
Learn more: Helen MacDonald wrote the book "I mean hawk" about her experience.
Painting as a way to create when there is no strength for anything else
Jasmine Farrow was working as a nurse and playing in an amateur rock band when she unexpectedly fell ill with severe chronic fatigue syndrome. Her condition was such that sometimes she could not even talk to friends - it is clear that there could be no more talk of music lessons. But the need for creative expression did not disappear, and then Jasmine remembered her other hobby, half-forgotten at that time: painting.
It turned out that it is quite possible to paint without getting out of bed. “Painting is the only thing I can do,” says Jasmine, “and I'm happy that I found this way to express my feelings. It was like getting drunk after a long wandering in the desert."
Learn more: Jasmine Farrow website.
Birdwatching as a way to take everything from life
Phoebe Snetsinger, daughter of advertising magnate Leo Burnett, lived the normal life of a wealthy American housewife until she was diagnosed with terminal melanoma at age 50. After that, Phoebe thought that although she had always enjoyed birdwatching and was part of the bird community of her small town, for some reason she almost never went on birdwatching expeditions, and even more so never watched birds outside the United States. "Now or never," she decided, and went to Alaska.
This is not a story about a happy cure: Phoebe's cancer was not completely overcome, he went into remission, then came back. Nevertheless, after the diagnosis was made, she lived for 18 years and probably could have lived longer - the cause of her death was not an illness, but a car accident on one of the expeditions. Or it could have been less: the fatal diagnosis made her a completely fearless person and she went on the most risky travels, not thinking about the consequences. During the expeditions, she had to endure a shipwreck, earthquake, kidnapping and gang rape.
But for Phoebe, it was much more important that for the first time in her life she was not some kind of housewife, but a bright independent person. She became the leading bird in the world and the first person in history to observe over 8,000 bird species in her lifetime. At the time of her death, there were 8398 species in her track record (and she discovered some of these species).
Learn more: after Phoebe's death, her family published the book Birding on Borrowed Time, collected from her diary entries, and later a full-fledged biography of Phoebe Snetsinger was published, it is called Life List: A Woman's Quest for the World's Most Amazing Birds.
Felting from wool as a way to escape from illness
Kay Petal became interested in sculptural wool felting while recovering from a battle with cancer. She felt devastated and wanted to find some hobby that would captivate her and help keep her afloat without slipping into depression. At the same time, the occupation should not require great physical strength - she had very few of them after the illness.
Quite by accident, Kay saw a master class on felting wool on YouTube, decided to try it, and she liked it! Moreover, it turned out that she had talent. She was especially fascinated by felt dolls. Gradually, she developed her own style and found her own niche - caricature dolls for celebrities. Today, Kay writes video tutorials herself (for those who, just like she once tried to study on their own), conducts master classes, successfully sells her work and runs her own shop of accessories for felting from wool.
Learn more: Key Petal website.