Need to reduce your stress? Get a relaxing hobby!
It’s common in today’s busy world to be consistently stressed. Your stress can be related to work, school, personal issues, or a combination of things.
Left unchecked, stress like this can damage your motivation and your physical health. This can lead to burnout where not only do you become less productive but generally unhappy as well.
A great solution is to step back and start a new hobby!
Many of you are probably saying that you are way too busy to take on something else.
If you think about it though, you will find that you have some downtime — you could not function without it. And most likely, this downtime is mostly spent sitting on the couch.
Being a couch potato for a while may seem to be just what you need. But then you find yourself stewing over your daily pressures again, then you go right back onto the treadmill — without feeling much refreshed.
What you really need is something enjoyable to take your mind off the daily grind. A hobby gives you that by supplying an activity that you enjoy, and look forward to.
And best of all, you work toward your own personal goals — no one else’s!
9 Hobbies to Reduce Stress
Let’s now look specifically at 9 hobbies that will help relax you while being challenging as well.
Gardening is a wonderful hobby that gets you outside and provides you with exercise.
There have even been studies on the positive effects of gardening on people. According to this study, gardening can erase stress and elevate mood. Even digging in dirt has been shown to help with a positive mood.
Deciding what to grow is a personal decision. It can be vegetables for example, and you can aim for being able to eat many meals from your garden or give it to friends and family.
Or you may decide to have a flower garden, a garden of beautiful local plants, or even something more exotic like a butterfly or water garden.
You could even get more high tech and try hydrophonics.
It is very satisfying to plan a garden, build the environment, plant, feed and water — and then watching your garden flourish. There is a lot to learn to be successful — don’t get discouraged if you fail at first.
Your garden can be small or large, whatever feels right for you. You will have a great feeling of accomplishment as you get better at it, and you see the results.
Hiking / Walking
Hiking is a great outlet for your daily pressures. It’s great exercise for one thing and exercise does wonders for your mood and level of stress.
Also studies have shown that walking around in nature can improve your mental well-being as I discussed more in a previous blog.
Challenge yourself to longer and harder hikes gradually. Also, make sure you have good hiking supplies.
Hiking is a great activity to do on vacation. You’ll get to see new areas, and wildlife in different parts of the country or world.
Knitting is a unique and thriving hobby that goes way back in history. Once you get the hang of it (and be patient there) knitting is very satisfying — and quite relaxing.
With knitting you can make many useful things out of yarn. Examples are scarves, hats, sweaters, quilts, animal figures, dresses, dishcloths — and many more.
But the real benefit of knitting may not be the things you make, but the act of making them.
The repetitive motions of knitting are soothing and you can enter a meditative like state while doing it. Knitting also gives you a great sense of accomplishment as you see your creations come to life.
Even science shows the benefits of knitting to your stress and mood. The result of this 2013 study, for example, shows that people who knit frequently experience more relaxation and happiness.
Learning the fundamentals of knitting and then getting more and more advanced just gives your mind a great outlet from your normal work which is likely quite different than knitting.
Also knitting is portable — your supplies can be taken with you easily.
If you are a man, you may be thinking that knitting is not meant for you. Wrong!
There is a large history of men knitters. True, it seems more women then men knit now, but many men do it too, getting all its benefits!
Let’s face it, as a kid you knew that coloring is fun! But isn’t coloring pictures just for kids?
Not at all — in fact there has been a tremendous movement of adult coloring. You can find beautiful adult coloring books at many places now including grocery stores. hobby shops, online, etc.
Why do people like doing adult coloring? It allows you to relax and create colorful images without actually needing to be a skilled artist. It can even be relaxing for skilled artists who want a break from the hard rendering work and just want to color without thinking much.
Moving your hands and applying colors makes coloring a beautiful form of doodling. It gets your brain into a meditative flow state, taking it away from your daily pressures.
Plus coloring gives you a sense of accomplishment to see the final pictures. You can even notice how the overall look and color selections reflect your frame of mind at the time, and any other meaning you feel like attaching to it — if any
Building something with your hands is relaxing and satisfying.
Models, as you probably know, are scaled-down representations of various objects that you build from kits. They can be cars, airplanes, ships, spacecraft — even robots, engines, and buildings.
The kits come with all the parts, and instructions. You will have to buy other supplies, like various modeling tools, model cement and paints separately.
Find out what kind of models excite you and try it. Start out easy at first, maybe even snap-together models. Then progress to more difficult models.
It’s amazing how advanced model making can get. It’s exciting to progress to more complex and realistic models. Some advanced modelers will even combine parts from different kits for new variations.
See your creations come to life using your hands and various tools like cement, paint, sanders, and cutting instruments. You can also find modeling toolkits to get you started with the basic tools, then you can expand from there.
There are lots of resources on the internet for learning model building techniques. It’s an enjoyable hobby for many, and results in a great collection that you can look at for years to come.
Drawing and Painting
Drawing and painting is a great hobby to release your creativity.
You can draw with pencils, charcoal or pen on paper. Or you can get into painting with acrylics, oil, pastel, or watercolors.
Many people think that they do not have any natural artistic talent and thus could never draw or paint. The fact is though that anyone can learn how to draw and paint. It’s all about rendering exactly what your eyes are seeing, instead of what the symbol of the subject is in your mind.
I recommend this great book for anyone starting to draw or paint as a hobby: Drawing on the Right Side of the Brain.
Of course, you do not have to realistically draw and paint things if you don’t want. You could create abstract art, experimenting with shapes and color combinations that reflect your mood and thoughts.
After all, this hobby is meant to unwind you, so be sure you approach it as a fun way to express yourself. Do not expect to become the next Vincent Van Gogh, and be frustrated when you do not.
If you constantly compare your work negatively with the work of professional artists, or you rely on other people thinking that your work is good, then you can lose some of the fun and escape with this hobby.
However, if you approach it as a fun way to see how good you can get, and enjoy creating art, you will love this hobby! And who knows, given enough practice (and that can be after hundreds or thousands of drawings and paintings) you may become a very good artist where you can even sell your work.
Reading is solitary and peaceful — yet it takes you to many different worlds. Reading is a great way to relax and get away from it all. It’s portable so you can read anywhere — be it from paper books or a device like a Kindle.
Reading also expands your mind, and gives you something new to discover, learn, and enjoy. It’s more personal than TV in that your mind will visualize all that is going on in a book. There is also so much more detail in books, and you find yourselves learning and experiencing new thoughts and feelings even with things not directly related to the story.
To get the most of reading as a hobby, challenge yourself to expand the type of books you read. Try a series of books in a genre you have never read yet have some interest in. Or read classic books from many famous authors set in various locations and times. You may find some of the books you were forced to read in school, are so much more enjoyable and enlivening as an adult.
If you stick mostly with fiction, venture out and read some good nonfiction books on various subjects — or vice versa.
You can combine reading with your writing hobby by writing summaries of the books you read, along with how they made you feel, and your thoughts about them.
You can also make reading more social by participating in or starting your own book club. Or just talking to friends who read, and share book suggestions and get together and discuss them.
Doing jigsaw puzzles is a great, low tech way to relax.
Jigsaw puzzles are challenging also. Start with puzzles with a low piece count, then work your way up to 500 then 1000 if you want. You do not want them to be too easy, nor too hard. Usually, 500 is a good number, but that can of course vary with the person.
Doing a jigsaw puzzle is perfect for putting you in a meditative, present state. You are focusing on one image, and your brain is occupied only with scanning and finding all the pieces you need to assemble that image.
Be sure to pick images that are pleasing to you while offering the right level of challenge.
You can do a jigsaw puzzle with your family to connect more with them. Or you can do them by yourself for much needed alone time.
Doing jigsaw puzzles have been shown to be good for your brain in many ways, including memory. In fact, studies have shown that people who do puzzles may live longer, and have less risk of Alzheimer’s and dementia.
Do you like to write?
Writing can be a great hobby to take you away from your regular job — unless that job is being a professional writer of course.
One option is you can try journal writing. Not only does this involve writing about daily events, but you can also write details on your impressions of places and people you encounter. You can use it to clarify and obtain your goals as well as help solve the problems you are having. See this previous blog on journaling.
Do you have a good story trying to peck its way out of you? Try your hand at fiction! Don’t worry about it being a great piece of writing, just spend some dedicated time getting it all out.
The beauty of writing is that it is so changeable. Spend time writing out a rough draft focused first. The purpose is just getting the story out and not worrying about how readable it is. You can modify it later all you want until you are satisfied with it. Professional writers approach it this way as well.
Don’t get stuck on needing your work to be published or even read by a lot or even any other people. After all the point of this is to have writing as a relaxing hobby and not a new source of negative stress. Writing can be pleasurable just with yourself as the reader. You will get better like this, without risking quitting out of discouragement.
Another way to explore a writing hobby is to start a blog. There are so many resources available for this at a low cost. Getting a large audience for your blog is hard, but you do not need to have a significant audience to have fun with it. Also, write it anonymously if you want — you need not even tell friends and family about it if you feel that helps you write more freely.
Of course, as you get better at writing, you may get more ambitious and publish that short story, novel — or build a popular, money-making blog. If you end up really loving it, go after your dreams there.
Having a hobby can reduce your negative stress and give you perspective. Some hobbies are more relaxing than others, even on the above list. But in most cases the stress you feel from a hobby is good stress — more of an excitement.
Overall, hobbies will make you feel less stuck and stressed out. It’s something that gives you a sense of satisfaction that is all your own.