A study published in The Journal of Positive Psychology found that individuals who engaged in a creative hobby had an increase in well being that continued into the next day, contributing to an overall upward spiral of increased well being and creativity. Another study found that playing team sports can contribute greatly to mental, as well as physical health.
It’s clear that having hobbies is good for us, which is something to be thankful for.
Anything that increases creativity, physical activity, and social connection is bound to be good for you. However, because hobbies are considered leisure activities, many may feel they can’t afford to spend the time on such luxuries. However, Psychology Today points out that Americans currently spend four times more of our free time doing something that has less than half the chance of making us feel good: watching TV or scrolling through social media. Active leisure, such as knitting, dancing, playing bridge, or gardening is where we are most likely to find an effortless concentration and enjoyment called "flow.” Flow is associated with life satisfaction and happiness. Life satisfaction and happiness correlate with better health and improved longevity.
Psychologist Dr. Martin Seligman asserts that the highest level of happiness occurs when we are in flow in activities that have a higher purpose—where we are contributing to the world. So combining your hobby with volunteering will have more positive effects than if you were just doing it for yourself.
Tamlin S. Conner, Colin G. DeYoung & Paul J. Silvia (2018) Everyday creative activity as a path to flourishing, The Journal of Positive Psychology, 13:2, 181-189, DOI: 10.1080/17439760.2016.1257049