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New Study Reveals How the Brain, Hobbies and Emotions Are Linked

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Editor's Note

If you’re looking for creative inspiration, check out the Daily Inspirations group on The Mighty.

What Happened: A new study published in the journal Nature Neuroscience suggested that those who participate in a wider array of pleasurable activities generally feel more positive. Researchers tracked participants for three or four months, measuring their activities and self-reported feelings. “The results showed that on days when people had more variability in their physical location — visiting more locations in a day and spending proportionately equitable time across these locations — they reported feeling more positive,” a press release shared.

  • What the brain says: Researchers took their work a step further and looked at brain activity in half of the study participants’ brains via MRI. Those who expressed more positive emotions during diverse activities also showed more activity in the reward centers of the brain.
  • Activity during COVID-19: While this study was conducted before the outbreak of COVID-19, the study’s authors highlighted that their insights can be helpful during quarantine. They recommended incorporating small variations into your routine — like a walk around the block or a new route to the store — may be helpful to boost your mood.

The Frontlines: Previous research has shown that many hobbies and activities can support your mental health. As we work to slow the spread of COVID-19 and stay home, you may find that you need new activities to occupy your time. Some things you might want to try include playing games with friends online, finding new ways to exercise or getting your hands dirty with a new craft project.

A Mighty Voice: Our contributor, Savannah Marcum, has found that crafts are great to stay busy during COVID-19 quarantine. “I’m a huge fan of arts and crafts, and many of us already have supplies at home to be able to do these things. Have fun with it. There’s no need to be the best. Just have fun with it like a little kid would.” You can submit your first person story, too.

From Our Community: 

Check out this week’s virtual events! Mon. 5/18-Fri. 5/22!

Add your voice: Join the Daily Inspirations group on The Mighty by downloading our app or comment below. … Or Sign Up for our weekly mental health newsletter.

Other things to know: Need some more ideas for how to pass the time while physical distancing that may help boost your mood? Check out these creative ideas:

More helpful thinking: If you’re struggling with your mental health, it can be difficult to try new activities, or even activities you used to enjoy. You’re not alone if you’re finding it hard to participate in activities during the COVID-19 pandemic or it’s triggering your depression. Give this a read.

Header image via Olga Kurbatova/Getty Images

Originally published: May 19, 2020
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