The Psychology of Collecting: Pros and Cons of Collection Hobbies for Mental Health

The Psychology of Collecting: Pros and Cons of Collection Hobbies for Mental Health

in Serious Detecting Blog

Collecting physical objects is an appealing and popular hobby around the world. Collectors spend their lives hunting down all kinds of items, from stamps and coins to action figures and bottles of wine.

In the United States, there are a significant number of people who collect physical objects as a hobby. For example, 42% of millennials have collected some type of object in their life. In contrast, 29% of baby boomers cite collecting as a hobby.

According to the University of Miami, human beings have been collecting things for a long time. Collections of crystals, all collected over 100,000 years ago, have been found by archaeologists in southern Africa. A person may collect as a hobby for many reasons, including pleasure, financial investment, and loyalty to a group. Whatever the reason, collecting brings many advantages, and disadvantages, to hobbyists around the world.

Mental Health Benefits of Collecting as a Hobby

There are many reasons to begin collecting as a hobby. Some people begin as a way to make friends or strengthen relationships. Others begin collecting because it is easy to start, and depending on the chosen item, it may even be affordable too.

Whatever reason a person has for beginning their collection, working on that collection can bring a variety of mental health benefits.

Improves Social and Communication Skills

Improving your social skills as an adult can be challenging and anxiety-inducing. However, enough adults struggle with social and communication skills that big names such as the New York Times and the Mayo Clinic have created articles and resources to help.

Making conversation at a social gathering can be difficult, but having an interesting hobby to discuss can make it much easier. Through collecting, a collector isn’t just creating a collection of items, but also a collection of conversation points.

Discussing your hobby and item of interest with others can help to improve your social and communication skills, and make you more confident in conversation.

Easy To Start

Collecting can be an easy hobby to start. Some of the beginning steps include:

  • Identify an item that interests you.
  • Educate yourself about that item.
  • Explore how you can find that item, and the equipment needed.
  • Start collecting.

Once you’ve identified an item you want to collect, all you have to do is start searching. However, some collections require equipment. For example, if your hobby includes hunting and collecting metal objects, such as coins, a metal detector is vital. If you are going to be mining for gold, a blue bowl concentrator kit is essential.

Once you have your equipment and you’ve learned some basic information about your item, you’re ready to start collecting — it’s as simple as that.

Great Way To Socialize With Like-minded People

Collectors often meet at various social events to find new items and meet with like-minded people. Trade shows and swap meets are two places where a collector can socialize with other collectors and find new items.

Meeting with like-minded people can help you to learn more about your chosen item and your collection methods. It can also provide you with the social interactions you need to maintain good mental health.

Collecting Can Improve Mental Health

Collecting, along with many other hobbies, has been proven to improve mental health for many reasons. These reasons include:

  • Stress reduction;
  • Increased social interaction;
  • Regular engagement in an enjoyable activity;
  • The development of a routine and habit.

According to Utah State University, regularly participating in a meaningful hobby can help improve participants’ mental health, including a reduction in anxiety and depression.

Mental Health Disadvantages of Collecting as a Hobby

While collecting provides a variety of benefits for participants, it can easily be taken too far. By learning about the disadvantages of this hobby, collectors can reduce their risk of dedicating too much time, money, or space to their collection.

Collecting Can Be Expensive

Depending on the type of item you prefer to collect, building a collection can be an expensive endeavor. If you do not budget correctly and keep track of your expenses, it can be easy to fall into debt.

If you are worried about the amount of money you are spending on your collection, then there are several ways you can prevent financial problems, including:

  • Set limits for the amount of money you will spend each month or year on your hobby.
  • Keep track of every purchase connected to your hobby. For example, buy a notebook or create a digital document where you track your spending.
  • Hold yourself accountable, or find someone who can help hold you accountable for your spending.

By taking careful precautions, you can enjoy your hobby without causing long-term financial struggles. Financial stress can have a negative impact on your mental health, so avoiding these stresses is beneficial.

Collecting Can Lead To Hoarding, Which Can Decrease Mental Health

Collecting can begin as an innocent hobby, however, it can turn into something very serious and potentially dangerous. When collecting turns into hoarding, a person loses control of the number of things building up in their home and living space.

Hoarding creates a situation that is not beneficial for a person’s mental and physical health. In fact, hoarding can be an indicator that someone is struggling with their mental health and may need treatment for conditions such as depression, schizophrenia, or obsessive-compulsive disorder.

May Lead to a Clutter Problem

Hoarding is a serious issue that can lead to serious mental and physical health conditions, but collectors should be wary of clutter as well. Clutter happens when a collector doesn’t have the space for their collected items, leading to disorder.

Having a disorderly and cluttered home can negatively impact your mental health, and in serious cases, can lead to clutter. To avoid this, regularly sort through your collection to determine if everything should be kept. You can even create a designated space in your home for the collection.

By keeping track of the size of your collection, and limiting the space where the collection is stored, you can avoid serious clutter problems.


As you build your collection, there will be certain items that take time and patience to acquire. There is nothing wrong with this, however, it is important to be aware of how much time you are spending on your collection.

Spending too much of your off-time on your collection limits the amount of time you can dedicate to personal and professional development. It can also begin to limit the depth of your relationships with friends and family.

Collecting is an amazing hobby. It has the ability to bring people together and improve mental health in many ways. Educating yourself about these potential advantages and disadvantages can help you to make the most of your collecting hobby.


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