We all have spare time. No matter who we are, no matter how busy, we all have spare time. Use it wisely. Some spare time should be spent just doing nothing. Which of course is impossible to do… we are always doing something. Even when “chill-axing” we are doing something. So if your default is to watch TV, just watch it more wisely. Watch programs that you enjoy, that you can engage in. Don’t just have it on as moving wall paper.

If you are a bit more ambitious with your spare time, again choose wisely. What do you enjoy? I believe that to have a nourishing hobby it needs to be creative. Many of us like knitting. I live near a small town and there are no less than three “Knit and Nat” groups. So even an activity like knitting can become social.

Seniors have it best. There are groups for everything from bowls to bingo. For your improved mental health – join in.

My hobbies include reading. I am always conscious I only have so much reading time; I only have so much brain power, so I choose wisely. I make sure it is something I really want to read. I usually have two or three books or magazines on the go. Depending on how hard I want to concentrate, I chose different medium. Reading really relaxes me so I often read before bed. It is part of my decompressing ritual.

Hobbies can be anything you like. The world is your oyster. I asked my mates what they did. One does cross stitch. She gets very “cross” when I call it needle point. Another mate does Zumba. He likes being a fool and dancing away his stress. (Of course followed by a swim and a Jacuzzi) Brilliant. My husband likes trying new beers. Rollercoasters are apparently a great way to have fear, but in a safe place. Who knew? And there is the greatest hobby of all – joining a theatre group. Let me do a plug here for our theatre group. My husband and I run Stepping Stone Theatre for Mental Health. There is nothing more cathartic than writing and telling your story to a large audience. Helps to destigmatize mental illness, too.

When you are thinking of, “taking something up”, think about this being creative. Cooking, gardening, mandala colouring books. And think about the social aspect. As we get mentally ill we tend to isolate ourselves. Use your hobbies as a time to get out and be with the world.

Mostly your hobby must be something you enjoy. I really think that putting FUN as the top priority is when we will do the most good for your mental health. You’ve really got to do something you enjoy. And you have to give yourself permission to quit a hobby if you don’t like it. Don’t keep playing 5-a-side if deep down you don’t really like football.

Your mental health is greatly affected by how you spend your spare time. So spare a thought now and know that we all have time in our lives but it is finite. So make enjoyment your barometer of choice and choose to use your time wisely.

Have a great day. In Recovery Me.

About the Author – Kate Hull Rodgers is an expert by experience. She has been mentally ill since 1986, more than 30 years. She is diagnosed as bi polar and GAD (generalized anxiety disorder) Every day she battles to be in recovery, many days she wins. She speaks in corporate workplaces with her company www.humourus.co.uk. She has spoken in 29 countries. Also she runs Stepping Stone Theatre for Mental Health www.steppingstonetheatre.co.uk with her husband, Bill- and she is still happily married. Mustn’t forget, she is the proud mother of Harvey and Dominic – and the dog, Zebbie.