Inspired by Bake Off? How hobbies are helping our mental health

Think back to the Tokyo Olympics and perhaps one of the most enduring images was not connected to sport at all - but no less significant.

Diver Tom Daley captured our hearts as he was snapped knitting at the Games this summer.

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The Olympian took to social media to share the impact his hobby has had upon his life, crediting his “love for knitting and crochet and all things stitching” with keeping him sane throughout the whole process.

This is high praise indeed when considering Tom became the first Team GB diver to win four Olympic medals, having won gold in Tokyo in the 10m synchro with Matty Lee, and his third bronze medal in the 10m platform.

Via a brief but enthusiastic Instagram post, the elite sportsman shared a cosy he had knitted to protect his gold medal and conveyed the powerful effect of his simple pastime.

Tom appears to be in good company in recognising the importance of a hobby.

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Hobbies like baking are helping mental health

Six in ten Brits say their creative hobby or passion is protecting their mental health, according to a recent study.

Be it knitting, baking or sewing, researchers found that having a pastime or hobby helped keep millions of Brits grounded during the last 18 months.

According to the data 16 percent of us are now bakers, while seven percent have turned our hand to knitting or sewing.

Others are pursuing pastimes including photography, short-story writing and painting.

And the benefits are bountiful for many.

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Almost half of the 2,000 British adults polled said their hobby relaxed them during times of stress, while 47 percent said having an interest gave them an immense sense of fulfilment.

“Creativity is an often overlooked part of the conversation about wellness and mental health, but the simple act of creating can be an incredible force for good in people’s lives,” said Liana Douillet Guzmán, of online learning company Skillshare, which carried out the study.

The research revealed that the average Brit had learnt two new skills over the past 18 months, with more than half claiming the pandemic has made them think about doing an online creative course.

Brits fancy their chances as Bake Off winner

Researchers polled British adults about their hidden creative talents and aspirations and found as many as 78 percent claim to be good enough to even make money from their hobby.

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More than a tenth of Brits think they could win The Great British Bake Off (Credit: Channel 4)More than a tenth of Brits think they could win The Great British Bake Off (Credit: Channel 4)
More than a tenth of Brits think they could win The Great British Bake Off (Credit: Channel 4)

In fact, more than a third of Brits are planning to turn their hobby into something they could earn a living from.

The study revealed as many as 16 percent of Brits think they could be the next Candice Brown, who won The Great British Bake Off in 2016, while six percent reckon they could win a singing show such as The Voice or Britain’s Got Talent.

Just under a fifth of adults in the UK are convinced they have the literary skills to pen an award-winning novel, while 12 percent rate their photography skills so highly they think they could be a famous photographer.

One in ten of those surveyed think their acting skills are such that they would probably win an Oscar if they ever made it onto the silver screen.

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“It’s fascinating to see just how aspirational the nation is, and how many people believe they have the creative skills to make it to the top across so many different sectors,” said Liana.

According to the findings, more than a third of Brits believe they have the potential to make a go of something completely different from their day job, because of a certain talent they have.

But it seems that the perennial barriers of time and money are holding people back from fulfilling their true potential.

For more than a quarter of adults polled, not having the financial means to properly train to improve their skill is the biggest hurdle, while 17 percent believe they have just not had the luck to make their big break.

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Twenty-six percent think they don’t have the right connections to make it in the industry of their dreams, while more than a third said they would not know where to begin.

The top hidden talents of Brits (according to themselves):

1 Could write an award-winning novel

2 Could win The Great British Bake Off

3 Could become an Instagram influencer

4 Could become a famous photographer

5 Could be a professional football player

6 Could win an Oscar

7 Could win The Voice or Britain’s Got Talent

8 Could win SAS: Who Dares Wins

9 Could be a famous PT like Joe Wicks

10 Could be the next Ed Sheeran