11 Hobbies That Can Help Reduce Stress and Anxiety

11 Hobbies That Can Help Reduce Stress and Anxiety

Hobbies are a great way for a person to reduce stress. They help you focus on the present moment and not worry about tomorrow. Hobbies also push you to take a break and unwind while being productive.

Having a hobby doesn’t necessarily decrease a person’s stress levels. Rather, it promotes positive stress or eustress.

Hobbies help a person get to know themselves better. Not only does having a hobby promote stress relief; it is also generally good for a person’s overall health and self-confidence.

How to Choose a Stress-Relieving Hobby

There are many management strategies for chronic stress; but, lifestyle change is still the best strategy for stress management. The best way to start changing your lifestyle is by engaging in a hobby, as nervous energy is bad for your emotional health.

After a long and busy workday, it would be nice to engage in hobbies that are easily accessible, easy to do, and pleasurable. Avoid hobbies or stressful tasks that are complicated and time-consuming, as this will add more stress rather than pleasure.

If you are the type who likes making things, an excellent hobby would be something that will produce an end result. You will feel a sense of accomplishment if you can create something tangible like a knitted sweater or the harvest from your edible garden.

Your brain has been functioning a lot throughout the day. It would be nice to have a hobby that could also engage it in a relaxing manner. There will be less tension when you focus on something different other than work. Examples of hobbies that relax the brain are reading something light but interesting, playing games that are scientifically designed to enhance different brain functions, and solving crossword puzzles.

Have a hobby that is totally different from your work. For example, if you are a doctor by profession, you can do knitting as a hobby, which is different from what you usually do day in and day out.

Try hobbies that can be done alone or with the company of others. There are a lot of hobbies that can be done individually, such as painting and DIY projects. Group hobbies are also encouraged for those who are finding it difficult to start on their own. Group hobbies are also a good way to socialize or meet new friends outside work.

Also, consider where you want to do your hobbies. If you are working from home, you might prefer engaging in hobbies that will require you to go outside and enjoy some fresh air. If your work is office-based, you might want to engage in individual hobbies that you can do in the comfort of your home.

There are so many stress-relieving hobbies available for you to choose from. You might have chosen a few ideas already that you want to start right away.

Stress-Relieving Hobbies

It is very common for people to grab a snack and binge-watch their favorite show as a form of after-work relaxation. This is not entirely wrong, but doing healthier activities can be a better diffuser of stress.

There are so many great hobbies that you can enjoy throughout the week. The list of fun, health-boosting hobbies below can help relieve stress.

11 Fun Hobbies and Activities to Reduce Stress

1. Journaling
Writing in a journal allows you to record your thoughts and feelings in an effort to better understand them. And if you’re struggling with anxiety, maintaining a journal can be a great hobby that will help you gain control of your feelings and improve your mental wellbeing.

Journaling is a great outlet to help you face your overwhelming emotions and express yourself. Journaling can help you:

  • Cope with stress
  • Manage your anxiety
  • Create order in your world of chaos
  • Prioritize your concerns and problems
  • Track your daily symptoms to help you recognize and control triggers
  • Identify negative self-talk and behaviors
  • Help you get to know yourself by focusing on your inner thoughts and feelings
  • Narrow down the causes of your anxiety so you can create a plan to reduce those issues

Make it easy for yourself to get started with your journaling practice by keeping a pen and paper with you all the time, so when a thought or idea hits you, you can record it. And your journal certainly doesn’t need to follow any type of set structure. You should consider your journal to be your personal space to write about whatever feels right to you.

Try to write in your journal regularly by setting aside some time each day to sit with your thoughts and get them down on paper. Look at this time as being a time for you to wind down from the day and relax a bit. Find a soothing and comfortable place to write, which will help reduce feelings of stress, make you feel less overwhelmed with your everyday life, and definitely reduce feelings of anxiety.

2. Practice Yoga

Yoga is a great hobby for those who are looking for a free activity that can be done at home at your convenience. All you need is a yoga mat and some comfortable, loose clothing that you probably already have on hand in order to get started.

This ancient exercise has a wide range of mental and physical health benefits, among which include increasing your ability to cope with anxiety. Practicing yoga can also help you handle the negative symptoms that often come along with anxiety such as an inability to sleep, depression, chronic pain, and digestive issues.

Yoga practices have been shown to reduce the impact that exaggerated stress responses can have on your body such as increased heart rate and respiration. This means that practicing yoga can have similar benefits to other self-soothing practices such as deep breathing, exercising, and spending time with loved ones.

If you’re a beginner, there are a lot of different types of yoga that you can try to find what works best for you. Youtube offers plenty of guided videos that can help you with your yoga practice–with some as short as ten minutes and others lasting over an hour.

3. Do Puzzles

If you really want to get your mind off of something, do a puzzle. You’ll quickly become laser-focused and forget about whatever may be ailing you at the time. Looking for the matching pieces of a jigsaw puzzle helps take your mind off anxious thoughts, which makes it a great distraction.

This is a great activity to do alone, or you can do it with company if you want to have people around without doing an activity that requires a lot of talking or interaction.

And, one of the great things about puzzles is that you can walk away from them at any time and pick up wherever you left off when it works best for you. So, if you’re feeling particularly anxious at one point, you can just go back to the puzzle you’re working on and spend some time on it.

Doing a puzzle requires you to put everything else aside while you search for (and find) the satisfaction of locating two pieces that fit perfectly together, making it a great hobby for people with anxiety.

4. Swimming 

This form of exercise is a great anxiety-reducer that can also lower your risk of depression (swimming releases endorphins, which naturally make you feel good) and improve your sleep. Many swimmers refer to this sport as being healing because it’s an invigorating, yet relaxing type of exercise that’s meditative due to its repetitive nature.

Swimming is a great anxiety-reducer that can also lower your risk of depression and improve your sleep.

Being in water is relaxing, and studies have shown that swimming for just half an hour three times per week can reduce stress levels, anxiety, and symptoms of depression. And while any exercise can help manage stress, swimming in particular has been found to be an especially helpful activity for improving mental health.

5. Cooking

And studies have shown the soothing effects of cooking, with experts claiming that cooking can provide people with an immersive activity that involves all five senses, offering respite from feelings of perceived dangers in one’s life (i.e. feelings of anxiety). When you’re preparing a meal, it’s easy to get caught up in that moment of creativity, which can be both calming and a mood booster.

Many people find joy in creating a unique meal, especially when it can be shared with loved ones. Plus, making and eating healthy food is a great way to make sure you’re feeding your body and mind with the necessary nutrition to maintain cognitive health.  So, in addition to being meditative and reducing anxiety, cooking can help you keep your body healthy as well.

6. Coloring

Coloring isn’t just for kids. There are a ton of budget-friendly coloring books on the market geared toward adults to help relieve stress and anxiety.

The act of coloring can be relaxing and the finished product offers a sense of reward. Studies have found that there are a few reasons why coloring is an effective way to stave off anxiety and improve emotional outcomes. First, it may arouse a nostalgic feeling of creating art as a child, which can make you feel good.

Coloring is also a creative outlet that can help break up your everyday routine. Finally, you can practice mindfulness as you disconnect from the chaos of life and reconnect to the present moment as you fill the pages with various designs.

7. Photography

Having anxiety can be limiting, but practicing photography certainly is not. One of the best things about picking up photography as a hobby is that there are limitless things you can choose to photograph.

You certainly don’t have to be social if that’s not your thing, but if you do want to photograph people, you’ll probably end up with a sense of confidence when you’re behind the camera. If you choose to photograph landscapes or nature instead, that means you’ll be getting out in nature, taking some long walks in natural light and fresh air, which is great for your mental health.

And, no matter what, you can definitely use your creativity skills when taking pictures. According to studies, those who spend time daily engaging in a creative activity have an improved sense of psychological well-being than those who don’t incorporate creative rituals into their routine.

8. Walking

This hobby has almost no barriers to get started, as all you need is some walking shoes and a safe place to walk.

When you couple walking with meditation, you can do even more to combat your anxiety. Walking meditation is an effective method for reducing stress, as it helps you focus and center your mind, especially if you’re going through a tough time. This meditation in action is easy because the walking part of it comes automatically, so your mind is free to wander.

Studies show that spending time in nature while you’re hiking or walking can reduce feelings of anxiety.

Walking for just ten minutes at a time can boost your mood and ease symptoms of anxiety. In fact, a 10-minute walk may be equally as beneficial as a 45-minute vigorous workout when it comes to reducing anxiety. Although the effects of walking or other forms of exercise may be temporary, research shows that a brisk walk can offer several hours of relief from anxiety, which is comparable to taking ibuprofen to treat a headache.

9. Reading

There are so many benefits you can get from reading, and reducing anxiety is one of them. Reading informs, teaches, entertains, and brings you to faraway places you’ve never experienced.

Studies have shown that reading can decrease stress and anxiety by 60-70%. Reading helps you relax by reducing your heart rate and relaxing muscle tension. As you give your mind a break from anxious thoughts by getting caught up in a book, you’ll often find yourself wrapped up in another world through the story that you’re picturing in your head.

Reading allows you to go to other places where you can “meet” people and learn about different problems that others are facing that will help take your mind off of your own anxiety.

10. Gardening

If you’re looking for something to distract you from your anxiety, try your hand at gardening. Not only can gardening help put a stop to your ruminating thoughts, it can also reduce the severity of other symptoms of anxiety.

Gardening helps people connect with nature, which has positive psychological benefits, and if you choose to grow your own fruits and vegetables, you can provide yourself with healthy foods that can further nurture your psychological well-being.

If you don’t have a yard, you can grow indoor plants or volunteer at a community garden to reap the benefits of this hobby. You’ll find it extremely satisfying to watch your plants grow after nurturing, feeding, and watering them.

11. Go Hiking 

If ruminating thoughts are the basis of your anxiety, hiking can be an especially helpful hobby to adopt. Some doctors have turned to writing “nature prescriptions” that urge patients to put their smartphones aside and benefit from the mental and physical rewards of connecting with nature.

Studies show that spending time in nature while you’re hiking can reduce feelings of anxiety. Our modern lifestyles have changed radically from those of our ancestors, but our cognitive function has pretty much stayed the same. We maintain a deep connection with nature, and research shows that if we neglect our bond with the great outdoors in favor of technological advancements, our mental health can be negatively impacted.

The physical benefits coupled with the chance to get out in nature makes hiking a great hobby to take up for people who want to reduce their anxiety.


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