A hobby is an enjoyable activity done during leisure time, which is time spent away from employment or other responsibilities, such as chores and education (1,2). A big part of leisure time can involve owning and taking care of pets.
Risk and/or Protective Factor
Hobbies and leisure time are a protective factor of mental health and can especially contribute to well-being for older adults and people who are unemployed (3,4). Multiple leisure activities per week increase the likelihood of mental well-being (5). Hobbies can positively affect mental health by supporting resilience, building self-identity, increasing social contact and reducing stigma; which are protective factors for mental health (6).
However, some hobbies, such video games, have been associated with anxiety and depressive symptoms in adolescents and adults (7). Furthermore, mental health conditions can be a barrier to taking part in hobbies, due to stigma or symptoms such as tiredness (8).
Pets can be a protective factor for mental health, as they have been associated with a positive sense of self and can provide companionship and social interactions for people with mental health difficulties (9). However, owning a pet may also involve high financial costs, more complicated housing situations and bereavement, which have been associated with distress (9).
1. Cambridge Dictionary. Hobby meaning in the Cambridge English Dictionary.
2. Lexico. Leisure Time | Definition of Leisure Time by Oxford Dictionairy on Lexico.com also meaning of Leisure Time.
3. Ryu J, Heo J. Relationships between leisure activity types and well-being in older adults. Leis Stud [Internet]. 2018 May 4 [cited 2021 Jan 25];37(3):331–42. Available from: https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/full/10.1080/02614367.2017.1370007
4. Goodman WK, Geiger AM, Wolf JM. Leisure activities are linked to mental health benefits by providing time structure: Comparing employed, unemployed and homemakers. J Epidemiol Community Health [Internet]. 2016 Jun 13 [cited 2021 Jan 25];71(1):4–11. Available from: http://dx.doi.org/10.1136/jech-2016-207260
5. Santini ZI, Meilstrup C, Hinrichsen C, Nielsen L, Koyanagi A, Koushede V, et al. Associations Between Multiple Leisure Activities, Mental Health and Substance Use Among Adolescents in Denmark: A Nationwide Cross-Sectional Study. Front Behav Neurosci [Internet]. 2020 Dec 21 [cited 2021 Jan 25];14. Available from: /pmc/articles/PMC7779398/?report=abstract
6. Fancourt D, Aughterson H, Finn S, Walker E, Steptoe A. How leisure activities affect health: a narrative review and multi-level theoretical framework of mechanisms of action. The Lancet Psychiatry [Internet]. 2021;8(4). Available from: https://doi.org/10.1016/S2215-0366(20)30384-9
7. Von Der Heiden JM, Braun B, Müller KW, Egloff B. The association between video gaming and psychological functioning. Front Psychol [Internet]. 2019 Jan 1 [cited 2021 Mar 10];10(JULY). Available from: /pmc/articles/PMC6676913/
8. Rezaie L, Shafaroodi N, Philips D. The barriers to participation in leisure time physical activities among Iranian women with severe mental illness: A qualitative study. Ment Health Phys Act. 2017 Oct 1;13:171–7.
9. Brooks HL, Rushton K, Lovell K, Bee P, Walker L, Grant L, et al. The power of support from companion animals for people living with mental health problems: a systematic review and narrative synthesis of the evidence. BMC Psychiatry [Internet]. 2018;18(31). Available from: https://doi.org/10.1186/s12888-018-1613-2