Happy hobbies – 4 activities to lift your mood

Close up of hands playing a guitar
We all need a distraction from real life from time to time. Finding a fun hobby that absorbs your attention can make a real difference. Not sure where to start? We spoke to people who’ve found pastimes that help them to navigate life with MS.

Music

If you’ve ever felt the Beach Boys’ Good Vibrations or shed a tear to Adele, you’ll know the powerful effect music can have on your emotions. Learning to play an instrument will help you harness those emotions and give you a great sense of achievement too.

Mark Unthank took up playing the guitar after MS limited the movement in his left hand.

“I taught myself to play chords off the internet. It took two or three months, but gradually the strength grew in my fingers. Being able to play along to a favourite piece gives me such a sense of self achievement. It’s my way to fight back to MS.”

Mike with some of his drawings

Drawing

What was your favourite subject at school? If you loved art or design, why not rediscover your creative side?

Mike Simpson decided to try the art group at his local MS Society branch after his MS started to have mental effects as well as physical ones.

“I had changed from a happy-go-lucky person to an irritable, miserable person. Art allows me to draw on my emotions and at the same time, it’s releasing something inside.

“If I’m having a bad day, it’s like I leave all my emotions and feeling in the art I’ve created and the following day, wow, I feel on cloud nine again.”

Writer at laptop - cartoon

Writing

You don’t have to be a great wordsmith to benefit from putting your feelings down on paper. Keeping a diary, blogging and penning poetry are all ways to express yourself.

One of our bloggers, Anne Brown, says: “Writing gives me a voice. It’s a release from the feelings you get when you cannot do something, the anger, the frustration, the sadness of what could have been. I just put it down on paper and it’s gone about of my head.”

Shana in her garden

Gardening

There’s growing evidence that gardening can help keep us well. Shana Pezaro has felt this first hand.

“When I am having a particularly rough day with my MS, the garden provides peace and calm. Even if I am too ill to leave the house, I can still access the outdoors.”

Don’t have a garden? With some imagination, you could still get green fingers. “We’ve started a bit of a 'guerrilla garden' in the pavement outside my house," says Shana.

“The area was covered in weeds, and one day, I decided to clear it and add my own flowers. The neighbours love it.”