How Model Railroading Offers Therapeutic Relaxation

With the hustle and bustle of everyday life, people yearn for moments of tranquility and enjoyment. We engage in hobbies and activities that not only soothe us but offer us happiness and joy, ranging from intense exercise to reading a good book. Within the model railroading community, many reason for their love for the pastime to provide moments of serenity and a sense of therapeutic relief. 

The entire process of model railroading can be simultaneously exciting and calming for many. The process of designing layouts, constructing scenery, searching for and operating new trains and accessories, and marveling at the result involves a great amount of creativity and thoughtfulness. This type of deep thinking about something other than work or stressors in life can offer a healthy diversion and promote relaxation. 

The process can also be compared to meditation. As a model railroader works to create their landscape, their mind is focused on each meticulous task only. An example of a precise task that requires a high level of concentration is painting a tiny model person to be placed on the layout. The Harvard Medical School suggests that activities requiring focus and concentration can induce a state of relaxation akin to meditation.

Along with meditation, model railroading provides a creative outlet. For many who work in corporate/office environments, utilizing your creative side can come sparingly. Drafting, planning, designing and building an entire layout is the epitome of creative expression. The end result of this process fosters a sense of achievement and boosts emotional well-being. Psychologists cite the link between creative expression and mental health, saying it has an incredible ability to reduce anxiety, depression, and stress. 

Similar to nearly every hobby, communities exist for people to come together and share their passion with like-minded individuals. This exists for model railroaders in the form of shows, exhibitions, clubs, conventions, and even online communities such as Facebook groups. Studies suggest that having strong social connections can be tied to improved mental health and lower levels of stress. 

Everyone needs some sort of outlet in their life; some call it having a third place they can go to for respite. That third place, after work and home, can exist as a hobby to provide a sanctuary or place of relaxation. You may have been already reaping the benefits of model railroading without realizing it – now, take a moment or two while engaging in your hobby next time to focus on the simple pleasures of designing, building or admiring your railroad.