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Providing expert support to people affected by neurological problems

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Your leisure: hobbies and pastimes to help your brain and body

HobbiesHow do you spend your spare time?  Living with a neurological condition is tiring and it can be really tempting just to rest or watch TV when you have a bit of time to yourself.  But having a hobby can really make a difference to your wellbeing, as well as developing your mental and physical skills.

If you have had to give up some aspects of your old life, such as drinking alcohol or playing contact sports, a new hobby can also help you get your "old self" back again, by giving you something else to do with your leisure time.

Meeting people and socialising

Learning a new skill, or taking part in an activity you already enjoy, can be a great way to meet new people. You might want to get involved in:

  • Local groups or committees
  • Support groups for your condition (these could be online or in person)
  • Coffee mornings
  • Pub quizzes
  • Evening classes

Brain training

Everyone can benefit from activities that help develop your brain and co-ordination. These might include:

  • Puzzles like sudoku or crosswords
  • Jigsaw puzzles
  • Singing or learning a musical instrument
  • Learning a language
  • Knitting and other crafts

Getting physical

Even gentle physical activity, injury or disability allowing, will do you good. (Do check with a health professional before starting a new exercise programme). 

  • Walking
  • Yoga
  • Dancing
  • Swimming or aqua classes

If you're interested in getting fitter and doing more physical activity, see our articles on Getting active and Exercise for specific conditions for information tailored to neurological conditions.

Back to nature

Many people find it relaxing to spend time getting closer to nature.

  • Bird watching - from home or out and about
  • Gardening
  • Dog walking
  • Fishing

Your suggestions

We asked you on Facebook what hobbies or pastimes had helped you to manage your condition. Here are some of your comments:

Since my illness in 2003 I have proved my surgeon and my doctors wrong by walking. Gradually around the house at first and then longer and longer distances. I now go for a 3+ mile every day in the beautiful countryside where I live and I also take photographs. The walking keeps me fit and slows deterioration of my already badly damaged spine and the photography is a wonderful distraction which helps with my chronic pain.

Genealogy research in the very early days was a great project as I couldn't walk or exercise much. It provided distraction from the pain, was something motivating to do, there was lots to learn and very interesting.

Many years ago after my subarachnoid haemorrhage I found concentrating on making beaded jewellery seemed to push the headaches to one side for a bit and I think it helped my coordination get back on track.

Nordic walking via the NHS exercise referral scheme. Walking is really helpful for getting oxygen through to the brain and helps with coordination. The NHS scheme provides access to a one to one exercise referral specialist covering different activities for at least 3 months which a free service! Helped me after a SAH and stroke no end.