Hobbies have been proven to reduce anxiety and improve mental health, whilst also helping many manage their emotions in a positive and productive manner.

With this in mind, Adobe Express conducted a survey of 2,000 UK adults to find out the most popular hobbies UK adults are turning to in 2024 to help them relax and unwind, as well as how creative they see themselves as.

The Top Hobbies Brits Turn to in Order to Relax

Rank Hobby Percentage of respondents regularly undertaking the hobby (%)
1 Reading 35%
2 Walking 30%
3 Cooking and baking 29%
4 Playing an instrument / Sports (solo) 25%
5 Journaling 22%
6 Writing 20%
=7 Sports (as a team) 18%
=7 Art, drawing, and illustration 18%
9 Knitting, sewing, and crocheting 17%
10 Design Work 15%

*The full survey data is available to view here.

Reading – the ultimate de-stressor

The most popular hobby or pastime enjoyed by UK adults in a bid to relax and unwind was found to be reading, with more than a third of respondents stating this was their number one choice (35%). This hobby is known for improving critical thinking and creativity skills, as well as enhancing knowledge.

This was closely followed by walking (30%) which is well known for its positive mental and physical health qualities, as well as cooking and baking (29%), which is a creative hobby that stimulates the senses, and boosts self-esteem.

Alongside walking, other outdoors or more active hobbies that proved popular amongst Brits included playing team sports (18%) and solo sports (25%) such as running.

Other creative hobbies Brits turn to in a bid to chill out, included journaling (22%), writing (20%), and knitting or crocheting (17%).

Journaling has been found to be a healthy way of dealing with stress and challenges, as well as helping with problem solving and personal growth, whilst writing and knitting are great for cognitive function and easing anxiety.

Just six per cent of respondents stated they did not do any hobbies or pastimes as a means of unwinding.

One in six (15%) of Brits are planning to take up a hobby as part of their New Year’s resolution in 2024 according to the findings – this equates to nearly eight million UK adults*.

Whilst nearly a quarter (23%) of UK adults said they have previously taken up a hobby as part of their New Year’s resolution, when quizzed on how quickly they had given up on said hobbies after the excitement of the New Year was over, the most common answer amongst respondents was within six months (7%).

Additionally, when asked how much money they estimated they had wasted due to abandoning the hobby, the most common answer was up to £50 (7%).

This means, if all eight million Brits who plan to take up a new hobby as part of a New Year’s Resolution spent £50 each on doing so, it would total £400 million.

The wellbeing benefits of pursuing a hobby

Kamalyn Kaur, Psychotherapist, provides comment on the mental wellbeing benefits of pursuing a hobby:

Having hobbies, away from family, is a great way of introducing balance into your life as it is dedicated and protected time for you to focus on what you want to do; prioritise yourself; and think about your own emotional needs. In this respect, hobbies can be a great way of introducing self-care and preventing burnout.

Kamalyn Kaur, Psychotherapist

Joanne Swann, Content Manager, WorkWellPro
Editor at Workplace Wellbeing Professional | Website

Joanne is the editor for Workplace Wellbeing Professional and has a keen interest in promoting the safety and wellbeing of the global workforce. After earning a bachelor's degree in English literature and media studies, she taught English in China and Vietnam for two years. Before joining Work Well Pro, Joanne worked as a marketing coordinator for luxury property, where her responsibilities included blog writing, photography, and video creation.