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HealthInfo Canterbury

Leisure & social connectedness

Leisure time and social connectedness are very important for mental wellbeing.

Social activities offer opportunities for relationships to grow and thrive. They can help you feel supported and inspired. They can also make you feel that you matter to others and you're needed as part of a community.

Taking part in activities that give you pleasure brings a sense of achievement. This builds self-esteem, gets your brain working and gets your body moving. It also helps to take your thoughts away from the stresses of school, work or home.

If you don't have much leisure time and are socially disconnected, you're more likely to have mental health and physical health symptoms.

The benefits of fun and social connection

When you have fun or spend time with people you enjoy being with, your brain releases chemicals like dopamine, serotonin and oxytocin. These chemicals usually circulate in your brain when you're in a good mood. They make you feel good. Frequent bursts of them help combat the damaging effects of stress.

Spending time doing pleasurable things, whether alone or with others, can help you to be positive about life.

Helping myself with leisure activities and social connectedness

To get leisure activities into your life and become more connected you could:

If you've been physically or mentally unwell for a long time, you might have lost some confidence. You might not be sure how to meet people and get back into recreational activities. The following resources can help:

Search on the internet for hobbies, sports or cultural activities that you're interested in to find a group in your area.

if you have a mental illness, community support services for supported activity can help you take part in social and leisure activities.

The important thing is to start with an interest or passion you have or would like to develop and go from there.

On the next page: Meaning or spirituality

Written by HealthInfo clinical advisers. Endorsed by psychologist, Canterbury DHB Mental Health Services. Page created October 2018.

Image of women on beach courtesy of khunaspix at

Page reference: 547953

Review key: HIMEN-176608