9 Hobbies to Help You Decompress

It seems as though we, as a society, are more stressed than ever before. This may be due to the economy, health problems, or a lifestyle that doesn’t prioritize self-care. You probably know that being stressed doesn’t feel good. But, you may not be aware of the many negative health effects of stress.

When you’re stressed, you may experience headaches, insomnia, rapid heart rate, and an upset stomach. However, there are even more serious consequences of chronic stress. These include a higher risk for hypertension, heart attack, stroke, a weakened immune system, and autoimmune disorders.  In fact, stress affects all systems of the body and mind.

If you would like to remain in good health, it would be wise to find ways to de-stress. Fortunately, there are quite a few hobbies that are known to effectively reduce stress. Most of them are inexpensive and can be done at any time. Here are nine such hobbies that you may be interested in trying.

Reading

Reading is something we all do daily, but reading as a hobby is less commonplace. It has been proven to be very relaxing, though. Reading can help you to forget about all the stressful things you’re dealing with in your life. Not only can you get caught up in a character’s story or a fantasy world, but the very act of reading itself requires concentration. This distraction eases stress by 68%, according to one study.

What’s even more amazing is that it only takes six minutes of reading to notice a difference. It doesn’t really matter what you read, but if you suffer from depression, self-help books have been shown to be effective.

Vadim Georgiev / Shutterstock

Writing

Many of us experience stress, but don’t deal with it effectively. Sometimes, we don’t even acknowledge that we are stressed until we become seriously ill. If you aren’t comfortable speaking to others, writing may be an effective way to deal with your stress and other negative emotions associated with a particular event.

Studies show that people who had traumatic experiences felt less stress after writing expressively about it. There are multiple proposed theories as to why this may be. One suggests that it allows people to organize their thoughts and give meaning to their experiences. Another suggests that it allows you to finally acknowledge a previously suppressed experience, paving the way for you to move forward. Finally,

 

those who are honest with themselves about their experience are more likely to open up to others.

Peshkova / Shutterstock

Painting or Coloring

When we are young, we are constantly engaged in creative activities, such as drawing, painting, and making crafts. As we grow older, many of us stop pursuing the arts. But, it may be a good idea to get back into it as research has shown that it may be beneficial to do art. In fact, one study showed that just 45 minutes of making art (drawing, clay modelling, and so on) lowered cortisol levels in 75% of participants. This effect did not depend on prior art experience. In other words, it doesn’t matter if you can paint like an expert — all that matters is that you paint.

So, how exactly does art help to relieve stress? Well, it provides a distraction from your problems, helps you to express your emotions and allows you to experience flow. This refers to a state in which you are so immersed in an activity, you lose track of everything else. It has similar benefits to meditation.

antoniodiaz / Shutterstock
1 of 3