Eight hobbies that quiet the mind


“Music hath charms to soothe a savage breast,” so said English poet and playwright William Congreve. Listening to music not only calms but it can also heal. Researchers at Stanford University found that soothing music promotes neurological functions. Listening to quiet music can also reduce the level of cortisol, a stress hormone, in the blood. Here are three albums that could soothe a teen’s soul

1. “Kind of Blue”–Miles Davis

2. “Goldberg Variations”–J.S. Bach

3. “The Koln Concert”–Keith Jarrett

Other calming hobbies can help soothe a teen with a complex mind and a well of angst. Part of treatment for mental health disorders or dual diagnosis includes finding a pastime that will quiet the mind.

Dawn patrol: Surfing, sunrise and tranquility

Surfing is both placid and pulsating. For the uninitiated, dawn patrol is the term for early morning sessions when most the world is still asleep and the sea is calm. Many a surfer has described this as the best part of the sport. Of course, they’re likely to change their tune when a huge set forms offshore.

Surfing is a proven therapy for a host of ailments. As one learns through lessons and practice, it is encouraged to soak up the silence in the session and admire the beauty of the ocean and the beach; letting the atmosphere baptize the mind in tranquility.

Art is what you make it: Therapy through creativity

“There is no better deliverance from the world than through art,” sage words from the German writer, Johann Wolfgang von Goethe. Unfortunately, not everyone possesses artistic ability. But for the select few, painting, sketching, sculpting or even spray painting provides the canvas for escape. Artists report that when they become immersed in art, they undergo physiological changes, such as a reduced heart rate and slower breathing. As for the mental landscape, many artists say they simply tune out noise and other distractions.

Grab a brush or a hunk of clay or dry macaroni and some paste and see what emerges. It doesn’t have to make sense. It doesn’t have to be anything. It doesn’t even have to be any good. All that matters is the expression.

Focus improves mental focus

“You don’t take a photograph, you make it,” were picturesque words from famed photographer Ansel Adams. Photography is much more than just taking a picture. Photography involves composition, light, setting and patience. The paparazzi may scramble about like pack animals but true photographers are deliberate in their pursuit of photogenic subjects. As Adams once said, “Photography, as a powerful medium of expression and communications, offers an infinite variety of perception, interpretation and execution.

Anyone who has a smart phone has a camera. A teen could go to his favorite place — lake, woods, baseball diamond — and take some photos. Suggest he skip the selfies for a day and see what he can do.

Cycling will cure what ails you

“Every time I see an adult on a bicycle I no longer despair for the future of the human race,” mused the British historian and science fiction novelist H.G. Wells. Biking improves muscle tone, increases heart and lung capacity and decreases the risk of diabetes and arthritis. Biking also reduces anxiety and depression and promotes a general sense of well being and happiness through the release of endorphins. Also, the repetitive motion of pedaling keeps the mind clear and focused on the moment.

Six minutes a day for a lifetime of benefits

“A book is a dream that you hold in your hand,” Neil Gaiman — comic book and graphic novelist has said.  A University of Sussex study showed reading just six minutes a day reduces stress by 68 percent. Reading slows the heart, relaxes tension and frees the mind to escape into, well, a dream.

There is literally a book out there for everyone. There are books that will speak to the seasons in one’s life and for troubled teenaged boys, there are some real-talk reads that can reach them, when perhaps parents or school figures can’t.

Food stimulates the senses, the memory and the soul

“After a good dinner, one can forgive anybody. Even one’s relatives;” food for thought from Irish author Oscar Wilde. Preparing a meal involves cutting, chopping, mincing—rhythmic activities which focus the mind and calm the nerves. Cooking engages all the senses, particularly smell. Smell is the most evocative of all the senses. Sam Stern wrote three cookbooks when he was a teenager in an unpretentious style, for fellow teens.  His second book, “Real Food, Real Fast is even divided into categories based on preparation time.

Man’s best therapy is his best friend

Groucho Marx once reflected, “Outside of a dog, a book is man’s best friend. Inside of a dog it’s too dark to read.” People who keep pets live longer. Dogs provide unrequited affection and they are never in a foul mood. Cats may not be as outwardly affectionate as dogs, but their purring and the warmth from their bodies as they burrow into a lap provides comfort and a sense of security. People who keep aquariums report the circular swimming patterns of fish may be monotonous but it also is soothing. Even cold-blooded creatures can provide warmth. Folks who keep iguanas and other large lizards maintain that stroking a reptile’s head and gazing into those orbital eyes creates a relaxing even loving bond.

Before you get a pet, clear it with your folks first.

White River Academy is a residential boarding school privately tucked into the cuff of the monumental Great Basin in Delta, Utah. White River focuses on treating young men with addiction and mental health disorders. We offer regimented, competitive and innovative curriculum to set your son up for success in whichever path he chooses hereafter. We balance academics with healthy, outdoor activities.

Leave a Comment

Scroll to Top