Top Hobbies for Stress Relief
When we’re feeling stressed, one of the easiest things to do is curl up under a blanket and binge watch a TV show. While this might make us feel better in the short-term, ignoring our problems like this is extremely unhealthy in the long term.
The best thing that you can do for yourself if you’re feeling stressed is to find a fun or rewarding activity that reduces your stress levels. Only you will know what the best fit for your life is, but if you’re running out of ideas, here are a few that we’ve come up with to help you out. These hobbies are all great at reducing stress.
Yoga is one hobby that many people believe is a fantastic way to relieve stress. You don’t need to practice it every day in order to reap the benefits of a class, and there are tons of different practices to choose from.
All yoga classes are designed to help us feel more centered and grounded, especially a class that’s advertised as restorative, or Yin yoga. These classes are full of long, extended poses that are easy on the body, and encourage our muscles to relax into the stretch. During a class, the teacher will often direct the class’s breathing, which can help even the most anxious and stressed out person regulate their breath, which will in turn have a positive effect on their overactive mind and racing heart.
Rawpixel.com / Shutterstock.com
Knitting is another great hobby that encourages relaxation and can help people who are feeling stressed out. Knitting is basically just making knots in yarn using two needles, and although it takes a bit of attention when we’re first learning, it soon becomes rote. Knitting is also a repetitive motion, and by focusing on the repeated action of the yarn and needles in your hand, you can take your mind off anything else that happens to be bothering you.
Researchers claim that this mental state is similar to the way our brain behaves during meditation. Plus, at the end, you get a beautiful handknit garment to wear.
Natalia Ruedisueli / Shutterstock.com
Another great hobby that can be beneficial for people that are stressed out is swimming. It’s a great form of exercise since it’s easier on your body than running, because there’s no impact, and it’s a great way to build both strength and stamina.
Another reason that swimming is great for stress relief is because it helps us to regulate our physical response to stress without conscious thought. Stressed out people often find it hard to breathe deeply on their own, but when we’re swimming, our bodies are so focused on trying to stay above water that it’s difficult to think about anything else.
Jacob Lund / Shutterstock.com
If you’re able to have a garden of your own, you’ll soon find that gardening is a great way to relieve stress after a busy day. Being outside in the sun helps your body to absorb lots of Vitamin D, which can help lift our mood when we’re feeling down. It also allows us to connect with nature, even if all we have is a tiny allotment garden or some pots of herbs. It doesn’t have to be much since even a few plants can help beautify your living space, and the act of tending something living will make you feel capable and resourceful.
Alexander Raths / Shutterstock.com
Studies have shown that people who spend time every day walking in nature have lower levels of cortisol (our stress hormone), and lower blood pressure than people who spend their time walking outside in a city. For these reasons, hiking is another great way to relieve stress, because it allows us to spend time in nature, breathing fresh air and absorbing lots of Vitamin D from the sunshine.
If you want to get into hiking but are worried about your stamina, don’t worry. You don’t have to do a long, strenuous hike in order to reap the benefits of hiking. Even half an hour a day of walking in nature will help relieve your stress.
aaronj9 / Shutterstock.com
Brain games, like puzzles, sudoku, crosswords, and other brain teasers, are a terrific way to work off some stress after a long day. Not only do they help improve our memory and reasoning skills, they also help keep our mind focused.
Many people with anxiety find that they’re unable to focus on anything other than their problems when they’re stressed out. But if you get into the habit of doing a brain game every time you’re anxious, it’ll force you to put your mental energy elsewhere, and you’ll soon forget what it was you were worrying about.
Radachynskyi Serhii / Shutterstock.com
A wonderful way to help ourselves process our feelings is to write them down. Writing things out by hand takes longer than just typing it out, but by slowing down, we give ourselves time to think about the situation, and to parse out how we feel about it.
It also gives us space to focus on the positive. Many people keep a gratitude journal, which they find has helped them name and acknowledge things in their life that are positive and meaningful. This action of naming the positive things in your life can have a real impact on improving your outlook.
Joyseulay / Shutterstock.com
Baking is a great hobby to have if you have a sweet tooth, but did you know that it’s also great for stress relief as well? Baking is a great way to focus your mind and encourages you to put aside anything that’s stressing you out, at least for a few hours while you crack eggs, cream butter, and focus on keeping your latest confection from scorching in the oven. Like knitting, at the end of an evening of baking, you’ll have something delicious and beautiful to show for all of your trouble.
4 PM production / Shutterstock.com
Listen to Music
For many people, listening to music is their way of escaping reality. Some hospitals have even started encouraging their patients to listen to music before surgery, as a way of reducing pre-operative stress and anxiety. While study after study touts music as a way to help calm down a stressed-out mind, only you can decide what music will take your stress away.
Many people find the soothing tones of classical music the most beneficial if they’re anxious, while others reach for intense heavy metal or punk rock to help them sort through their feelings. Only you can say which genre is right for you.
Stock-Asso / Shutterstock.com
Teach Yourself an Instrument
Another great way to calm yourself down if you’re feeling anxious or stressed is to pick up an instrument. Learning how to play an instrument is beneficial because you’re not only exposing yourself to music, you’re also keeping your mind engaged while you do it, which helps us take our minds off anything that might be bugging us. Learning an instrument helps make new neural connections in our brains, and the more pathways that we create, the better our brain becomes at regulating and processing emotion.
Africa Studio / Shutterstock.com
Although it may be tempting to hide at home when we’re feeling anxious and stressed, volunteering is a great way to help ourselves feel better. As human beings, we feel best when we’re useful, and volunteering is a clever way to be active and give back to your community at the same time. The more we empathize and give to others, the better we feel about ourselves.
The only key is that you can’t go in to a volunteer placement expecting to get these results. Studies have shown that people who volunteer for selfish reasons don’t reap the same benefits as those who volunteer simply because they enjoy helping others.
wavebreakmedia / Shutterstock.com
Another great physical activity that can really help you reduce your stress levels is running. While at the beginning when you first get started, it may seem like something that will never feel good, the more you practice it, the more you’ll start to crave the adrenaline rush, and soon you’ll be the type of person that runs through wind, snow, and rain.
Running raises your endorphins — a feel-good hormone that can help boost our mood — and it also serves as a kind of meditation in action. The more you run, the easier it becomes to slip into a sort of trance, where you’re focusing solely on the movement of your body and less on the stress of your day.
Goran Bogicevic / Shutterstock.com