A hobby you enjoy can improve your mental health by making you calmer, happier, and more focused. If you suffer from anxiety or stress, then consider taking up a new hobby (or spending more time on those you already have).
When growing up, most adults become too busy, and believe spending time reading, meditating, or learning something new is “a waste of time”. They fall into the trap of thinking that an activity is valuable only if it makes money or is related to work.
In this article, we are going to have a look at eleven hobbies that are ideal for those who are anxious, stressed out, or need more me time. Most of these are inexpensive, and can be really enjoyable.
Putting your thoughts on paper can do wonders for your mental health. Journaling helps you take the time to reflect on what works and what doesn’t, your goals, your emotions and feelings.
Plus, by noting down your thoughts you make sure you’ll actually remember them. As we consume more information every single day, and our attention spans get shorter, it becomes harder to remember everything.
I believe you should never trust your memory, especially if you are busy all the time. A note-taking app on your smartphone is fine, but pen and paper feels more like a ritual (plus, you won’t be staring at a screen all the time, and won’t see those annoying notifications).
While journaling is best for analyzing your thoughts, writing in general is a good hobby to relieve stress and anxiety. You could write anything from stories, to poetry, to a blog like this one.
Besides making you healthier and fitter, yoga has been proven to reduce anxiety symptoms.
Your body and your brain are interconnected, so poses that relax your neck, shoulders, or chest will help you relax your mind as well.
Yoga is also an excellent way to practice mindfulness — being present and focusing on the present moment. As you hold a pose and breathe slowly, you redirect your focus back to your body, and your brain stops thinking about your never ending to-do list.
One of the great things about yoga is you could start practicing it on your own or join a class (I recommend the latter simply because you’ll learn faster and you’ll be surrounded by like-minded people).
Remember, yoga is very gentle, and suitable for almost all age groups.
Well, you’re doing this right now.
If you suffer from anxiety, then reading can be a great hobby, particularly if you are an introvert. Reading stimulates your imagination and calms down your mind.
My advice to you is: only read content that is positive and inspiring (don’t read horror books or depressing news/stories). Our subconscious mind perceives everything as real, so it’s important not to feed it with negative stuff.
If you make it a habit to read inspiring stories and useful articles, you will also grow as a person, and may learn new skills to heal or improve your mental health quickly. No matter how smart you are, there’s always something you don’t know, and the more curious you are, the more you’ll learn.
When you have a pet, you have one more reason to get out of bed in the morning (for example, because you have to feed them and take care of them), so if you usually feel depressed or unmotivated, it could help immensely.
Moreover, they’ll be your friend: they will show love and affection, and improve your mood whenever you feel lonely.
Now, if you want to get a pet, take some time to think about your personality and your current lifestyle.
For example, if you prefer animals that are calm and quiet, then a reptile may be a great choice. If you are predominantly an extrovert, on the other hand, you’ll probably love pets who interact with you all the time, such as dogs.
Lifestyle wise, if you are busy, and most of your day is spent at the office, then a dog wouldn’t be ideal. So before getting a pet, ask yourself how much time, realistically, you will be able to spend with them. It will make things a lot easier.
Going to the gym
Much like yoga, working out at the gym heals your mind through your body. When you are running, jumping, or lifting a weight, you temporarily turn off your brain: there will be no negative thoughts anymore, no stress, and no anxiety.
Some people like to exercise in the morning, before they do anything else, including work or study. Why? Because they know their body and mind must be in an optimal state to perform tasks. When you work, you want to be focused and energized; when you meet other people, you want to be positive.
Going to the gym can do wonders for your overall health, and, in turn, your self-image. If you are just starting out and it feels daunting, consider joining a class or hiring a personal trainer who can guide you.
Sometimes when you speak a different language you also feel like a different person. Moreover, when you are still learning the basics, you are too focused on grammar, vocabulary and pronunciation to be anxious.
In other words: when we speak our own language, it’s easy to overthink. When we are trying to communicate in a foreign language, however, we simply focus on finding the right words to express our thoughts.
Just like other hobbies mentioned in this article, you can do this in a class, so you can interact with other people (and if you are working on your speaking skills, you probably should). It’s easy to make friends with someone who shares the same goal/interest.
As a bonus, learning a foreign language will allow you to travel with confidence and interact with the locals when you’re on holiday somewhere. It may even open up opportunities in your career.
Most people associate the idea of driving with stress simply because they use their car to get to work, driving in traffic, often in a hurry.
However it can be incredibly relaxing to drive around, especially at night when it’s quiet, or while listening to uplifting music.
Again, when we drive a car we change our focus. Driving takes your mind off any problems you have, and helps you forget about your worries.
When you are stressed out, driving without a specific purpose — especially driving somewhere new — can help you calm down and feel happier instantly. As I mentioned, you probably want to do this when it’s not too trafficky.
Walking in nature
No matter how cool your home/workplace/gym looks, or how comfortable it is, it will never be your natural environment as a human being.
Exposure to nature has dramatic effects on our nervous system. Breathing fresh air, walking slowly, and hearing the sound of the wind (or the waves, if you are walking on a beach) boost your mood, and can heal anxiety significantly.
Plus, who doesn’t like the view of a mysterious, magical forest? Or a beautiful tropical beach, or the mountains, or an endless field of flowers?
If you start walking in nature regularly, I guarantee you will notice positive effects on your mental and spiritual health. Just make sure you don’t constantly check your smartphone as you’re walking (some people leave their phone at home on purpose).
Drawing or painting
When you draw, you don’t just calm your anxiety — you create beautiful art.
Most people think you need to be talented to create art, but in reality, anyone can draw or paint something. It doesn’t have to be the greatest piece of art, and you don’t have to show your work to other people.
Again: don’t fall into the trap of thinking that because you’re an adult, you should only spend your time doing what other adults do. Don’t think that having a hobby such as drawing is “childish”.
Drawing encourages you to be more creative, and could even be used in your journal (sometimes it’s easier to express thoughts with pictures, rather than words, so feel free to experiment).
One of the tricks to be more present is paying attention to your senses (for example, what you see with your eyes, or touch with your hands). When you are cooking a meal, chances are you’ll also pay attention to the smell of the ingredients, which can be very relaxing.
When you feel a little stressed, try cooking a meal, ideally something that requires your full attention — if you are steaming vegetables, for instance, you’ll have to pay attention to timing as some vegetables will cook faster.
Learning to cook also comes with a big bonus: you’ll be able to enjoy your favorite meals for cheap, without dining at some expensive restaurant. Plus, you’ll become healthier: by cooking better meals, you’ll be able to eat more nutrients, which, in turn, will help with stress and anxiety.
It’s incredibly comforting and satisfying to eat something you prepared yourself — in fact, it’s tied to our primordial needs. So even if you’re not a chef, improving your cooking skills can make you happier.
The last hobby you may want to consider is playing with LEGOs.
Besides being good for creativity and concentration, building objects with tiny bricks allows you to use your hands, which is a good way to relieve stress. Moreover, it can help you feel like a kid again.
There’s no limits to the amount of things you could build. You can experiment with different colors, sizes, shapes, or combinations.
Plus, you don’t have to build anything realistic — it could simply be different bricks stacked on top of each other. You may think it’s stupid, but again, the goal is to be spontaneous, and think like a kid. There’s no need to be an architect!