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benefits of collecting


Collecting things is a wonderful hobby, and one that people adopt for many different reasons. Some people collect things simply because they like them, others because they are reminded of happy memories. Collecting stamps could remind you of your far-flung holidays around the world whilst Jim Shore figurines might remind you of a happy childhood, for example.

The kind of items you choose to collect reveals a lot about your personality and, no matter what your collection, collecting is incredibly good for your mental health. Here are just some of the reasons why building a collection can help to expand your mind, improve your mental capacity, and boost your mental health and overall wellbeing:

1. Collecting Builds a Desire for Knowledge

Thanks to the rise of the internet, it is now easier than ever to find a wealth of information on just about any subject, no matter how obscure. When you’re an avid collector of something it is only natural that you will want to know as much about your specialist subject as possible. Whether that means reading books, conducting internet research, or even joining online forums and groups with other enthusiasts, your desire for knowledge will only continue to grow.

Knowing a lot about any one thing is a great way to build your self-esteem, and will also provide you with an instant conversation starter when talking to new people, which will only help you to grow your confidence.

2. Collecting Inspires Creativity

Collecting is sometimes viewed as something odd or geeky, but in reality many artists and writers choose to have collections. You will often find that creative people collect things that they find visually stimulating, or that increase their feelings of connection to the world around then. The work of modern artist Jean Miro, for example, was inspired by objects he had collected during his walks, such as stones, driftwood, and seashells. These are all common collectible items, and those that often inspire creativity in others.

Shelley Carson, a highly regarded creativity researcher, wrote that “Creativity is the act of taking bits of information—from your internal store of memories, knowledge, and skills or from the external environment—and combining and recombining them in novel and original ways to come up with a new idea or product that serves a purpose.” Collecting can play a key role in this, helping to trigger memories and inspire new ideas.

3. Collecting Improves Organisational Thinking

When you have a large number of objects in your collection, it becomes important to sort and categorise your objects to give your collection some kind of cohesion. By having to do this, you are actually improving your organisational thinking, thinking outside the box about the themes of your collection, and enhancing your visual awareness. Why is this good for you? Because having lateral and organisation thinking skills can translate into more productive thinking which will help you to conduct research for key projects at work or at school, and will also help to enhance your memory and therefore improve your test scores.

4. Collecting Promotes Relaxation and Stress Reduction

We live in an increasingly stressful environment. Not only can stress have a negative impact on your mental health, this also translates into a negative impact on your physical health. Stress can lead to an array of physical reactions including, but not limited to: insomnia, high blood pressure, fatigue, increased heart rate, dizziness and light headedness. Finding a viable method of stress reduction that works for you is vital for both your mental and physical health and collecting is a great form of stress reduction.

Many collectors report that spending time with their collections leaves them feeling relaxed, less stressed, and better able to unwind. Collecting provides a safe space where you can abandon your worries and leave the stress of the world behind you.

5. Collectors Gain Social Recognition

Some collectors simply want to make their mark on the world. They want to be recognised, by their collecting peers and by wider society, for the value and quality of their collection. Owning something rare and unique can leave a collector feeling important by association, like the quality of their collection is a reflection of their own quality and worth. Baring this in mind, collecting can be great for building confidence and self-esteem.

For individuals who are shy, or struggle to relate with others on a social level, collecting can also encourage them to forge new social links and meet new people. You will talk to those who have similar collections to you, either in person or online, and acquiring new pieces to add to your collection also requires a certain amount of social engagement. As a result, collecting can lead to a reduction of social anxiety and any associated depression and other mental health issues. I’m not saying that if you start collecting porcelain pigs that you’ll stop being shy, but forging a collection is certainly a positive step to help you start overcoming your shyness.

6. Collecting Builds Your Observational Skills

When you are a collector, you are always on the lookout for new and rare objects that you can add to your collection. This means that you will be much more mindful of the world around you. Instead of walking around with your blinkers on, you will look in shop windows, on market stalls, and everywhere else, being keenly observant and always on the prowl for new objects to add to your collection. Your observational skills will be enviable, and you won’t miss any details in the world around you.

You’ll also quickly become a pro at looking for the details in the objects that you collect. If you collect Jim Shore design figurines, for example, you may become incredibly fast and savvy at scanning figurines looking for any signs of chips or damage. These excellent observational skills will serve you well , helping you to become a better finder and seeker in general and making you more aware of the little details in the world around you. In a professional capacity, this means that you’ll always notice errors in reports or find missing information.

7. Collecting is a Lifelong Skill

A passion for collecting is often something that is developed in childhood. Some children are content to own just one or two toy animals, whilst others will want to own every animal released by a certain brand or in a certain design.  If you develop an interest in collecting things in childhood, if the thought of owning things makes you feel special and important, then this is something that will stay with you for life, though that passion for plastic animals may port into something more sophisticated as you enter adulthood.

Anything that reminds us of the comfort of a happy childhood is good for our mental health. Even as adults, many of us have one of our feet anchored in our childhoods: this is where we come from, it forges who we are. Childhood memories are vital for healthy adult development. By continuing a passion for collection we will build on these happy memories whilst simultaneously developing new passions and new coping strategies that will help us to become happy and well-adjusted adults.

8. Collecting Makes You Happy

Finally, the power of happiness should not be underestimated, and most collectors choose to collect simply because it makes them happy! Happier people are healthier people. They’re more productive, have higher energy levels, and are much more likely to feel good about themselves and about their achievements. Researchers at Harvard University have even found that individuals who have a happier and more positive outlook on life are less likely to develop life-threatening illnesses.

Life is too short to spend your days feeling sad, disappointed or lonely. If there is a particular object that makes you smile to look at it, or think of it, then why not start a collection? It really is a salve for the soul, and you might be surprised by just how much it enriches your life.

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