5 Hobbies That Boost Happiness

New research shows doing one creative thing a day can increase wellbeing. Here are five easy, low-commitment activities to try.

Hobbies that boost happiness: crafts.

(Photo, Sian Richards.)

Sorry TV. Crafting, knitting, baking, singing and other daily creative hobbies have been found to make people happier says a study published in the Journal of Positive Psychology. Out of 650 participants, those who regularly engaged in artistic leisure activities felt “more energetic, enthusiastic, and excited” the next day.

The best part is, it’s not about creating a masterpiece: Researchers say the value lies in doing it routinely. Here are five easy-to-learn, artistic hobbies to do instead of binge-watching your favourite show tonight.

1. Revive your handwriting

From chalkboard menus to fancy wedding invitations, handwritten lettering is everywhere. Much like the recent colouring book trend, the act of holding a pen (or paintbrush) and maneuvering it across paper in rhythmic swishes and swirls is incredibly therapeutic. The Vancouver-based artist Amanda Arneill and the Edmonton-based calligrapher Kelly Klapstein have hundreds of thousands of Instagram followers, and offer online courses, free tutorials and worksheets to kickstart your own word art.

Hobbies that boost happiness. Photo, Amanda Arneill

Photo, Amanda Arneill.

2. Get outside your baking comfort zone

If you can reel off a recipe from the top of your head, it doesn’t count. Push your cooking boundaries by trying creative, fun and imaginative new treats, such as this chocolate hazelnut salami or polenta strawberry shortcake.

Hobbies that boost happiness. Chocolate-hazelnut salami.

Chocolate-hazelnut salami. Photo, Sian Richards.

3. Join a choir

Canada is full of non-competitive choirs that let you belt your heart (or frustrations) out. Social singing has been found to lower stress levels and boost your  mood. A good voice and past experience aren’t required and there’s generally no formal audition process.

Photo, New York Public Library.

Photo, New York Public Library.

4. Build a terrarium

Get your green thumb on in winter by creating low-maintenance, high-impact terrariums. Succulents can go in almost any partly closed glass container, from fish bowls to lightbulbs. Start with a teardrop design in three easy steps.


Excerpted from The Plant Recipe Book by Baylor Chapman, Artisan Books. Photo, Paige Green.


5. Refresh old furniture

Kill two birds with one stone by giving the furniture you’ve fallen out of love with a makeover. From Ikea hacks (where plain Ikea furniture is painted and reworked in creative ways) to upcycling vintage finds, the Internet is filled with people sharing their interior-design hobbies. Find your niche and join in.

Photo, Roberto Caruso.

Photo, Roberto Caruso.

Watch how to update a small bathroom for under $300:

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