How do you typically unwind on vacation?

If your go-to involves sprawling on the beach with minimal movement for an entire week, you might be missing out on a more fulfilling and rejuvenating experience. Recent studies suggest that engaging in hobbies during your leisure time could offer greater benefits to your mental health and overall well-being compared to spending extended periods in a passive and semi-conscious state.

Reframing your approach to relaxation on holiday can lead to a more enriching and rejuvenating experience. If your typical relaxation method involves passively lounging on the beach for an entire week, you might be missing out on the numerous mental health benefits that engaging in hobbies can offer. Recent studies have highlighted that dedicating time to a hobby during your vacation can contribute more positively to your well-being compared to spending the week in a sedentary and semi-conscious state.

As we approach 2024, there’s a growing trend known as the “hobbi-day,” reflecting a desire to rediscover the joy of actively participating in enriching activities as a new form of wellness. Throughout the pandemic, a significant number of Brits, reportedly six out of 10, embraced hobbies like baking, gardening, and crafts as a means of self-care. However, despite initial intentions to maintain these newfound sources of joy, the demands of daily life often led to the neglect of these activities.

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In response to this shift, hotels are now offering diverse experiences that allow guests to reconnect with childhood hobbies or explore new passions. Whether it’s horse-riding, painting, singing, book clubs, sushi making, kitsui, or pottery, these experiences aim to provide a pleasurable dose of dopamine and potentially serve as a catalyst for adopting positive, long-term habits with health impacts surpassing a mere afternoon at the spa.

Why might a hobbi-day be beneficial for you?

Taking a break to engage in a hobby can serve as a potent method for transforming your health and well-being. Scientists propose that immersing yourself in a pleasurable activity taps into the creative right side of your brain, diverting attention from the critical and stressed left side, ultimately leaving you feeling happier and more relaxed.

Prominent figures, like PR guru Mathew Freud, emphasize the need for occasional breaks to let the busy left brain “shut up.” Studies corroborate that hobbies release dopamine, linked to warding off mild depression, reducing heart rates, and potentially lowering the risk of dementia.

Even trying a hobby once during your holiday can “kickstart our reward system and subsequently our motivation to do the hobby again,” as explained by Professor Ciara McCabe from the University of Reading. Physical hobbies, such as padel, can enhance fitness, while others, like playing a musical instrument, may improve memory. Artistic hobbies, including reading or board games, are reported to contribute to preventing dementia later in life.

The impact of adopting hobbies extends to long-term happiness as individuals age. A global study involving 90,000 participants across multiple countries found that those engaged in hobbies experienced a decrease in depressive symptoms and an increase in happiness and life satisfaction.

Dr. Karen Mak, who led research at the UCL Institute of Epidemiology & Health Care, highlights that hobbies possess the potential to shield older individuals from age-related decline in mental health and well-being. Life satisfaction, in particular, is strongly linked to hobby engagement, fostering feelings of control, purpose, and competence.

If you’re aiming for a joyful holiday, consider embracing the hobbi-day concept.

For those seeking the best places to experience a hobbi-day in Europe, destinations like Bull Burford in England, Gleneagles in Scotland, Hotel Castello di Reschio and Villa Lena in Italy, São Lourenço do Barrocal in Portugal, Pine Cliffs Resort in Portugal, Son Vell in Menorca, Ham Yard and Haymarket Hotel in London, Wilderness Reserve in Suffolk, and Thyme in Gloucestershire offer diverse and immersive opportunities. These locations encourage guests to step outside their comfort zones, fostering meaningful and enjoyable experiences to reset both body and mind.


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