It actually is a cause of worry that mental health issues such as anxiety, stress, and depression are on the rise. With every one of us participating in the rat race with the goal nowhere in sight, it is causing a lot of physical and mental issues in people across the globe. Increasing dependence on technology is yet another reason for anxiety, and this is what many studies have to say.
If we compare our lifestyle to the previous generations, we can see stark differences in certain areas. Hobbies are one such aspect. In today’s world, we hardly have enough time to complete our work, let alone have food or get a full night’s sleep. How are we going to even think of hobbies?
But, do you know that it’s hobbies that can save us? Especially if you are suffering from anxiety or stress, you need to take time out for yourself and do something that relaxes your mind and gives you peace.
Many therapists, psychologists, and counselors say that adopting different hobbies will give people the necessary way to vent their emotions and calm the mind. Hobbies bring out the creativity in people, increase concentration levels, improve motor skills, and boost self-confidence.
There are many hobbies you can take up to fight anxiety and depression. However, there are no specific rules to choose hobbies. Pick the ones that make you happy. The ultimate aim is to lead a happy life by improving your physical and mental health.
In this post, we’ve listed 21 best hobbies that help fight anxiety and depression. Let’s take a look at what they are and how they can make you happier in life.
For Body and Mind
1. Meditation is Calming
If anybody tells you that meditation is overrated, they are not doing it right. Yes. Meditation has countless benefits, all of which improve your life and make you a better person. Considering the constant stressful times we live in, meditation provides you the required outlet to get rid of pressure building inside your head.
Set aside 15-25 minutes each day for meditation. Sit alone in a room and let your body relax. Back straight, deep breaths and eyes closed- let the world around you fade away. Don’t let negative thoughts conquer your mind. Think of what makes you happy. Focus on a distant light and let your senses relax one by one. Once you get comfortable, you can meditate even outdoors in your garden surrounded by your favorite plants.
2. Mind-body Exercises
Ancient exercise forms work great not only on the body but also on the mind. Yoga, Qigong, and Tai Chi are some examples of mind-body exercises. They help in aligning your inner self with the outer self and with Nature. You will learn to sync your energies and attract positive vibes.
People with mood disorders, anxiety, depression, and hyper-stress are advised to take up either of these exercises to get some relief and gain the strength to fight against them. Yoga also helps in weight loss, building the immunity system, strengthening the nervous system, and reducing the blood pressure. It also reduces anger and improves your mood. Make sure you do the mind-body exercise at least once a week. If you can do them every day, it’s the best.
3. Aikido is Super Cool
Aikido is another ancient art form. It’s one of the Eastern martial art forms. But unlike the other forms, Aikido helps in reducing anxiety. It doesn’t show how to attack the opponent. Instead, it teaches how to defeat someone without attacking or hurting them.
The Japanese art form is a mix of philosophical and religious beliefs that will make you get a better perspective of life. It promotes peace while teaching how you can have a strong body and mind. The well-being of a person is important in Aikido. It teaches compassion and awareness. If you are looking to learn some defense skills and life lessons, Aikido is the right choice.
4. Dance to the Beat
Do you know that dancing is one of the best hobbies to fight stress? The trick here is not to get anxious about how you dance and what others will say. Dance is a form of expression. It teaches you to set your mind free of inhibitions and doubts. People who dance (even alone) are happier than those who don’t. It’s not us who are saying this. Many research papers showed that dancing helps fight Parkinson’s disease, depression, and neurological movement disorders.
It increases coordination, control, balance, and movement of the body. Dancing also helps release stress and leaves you feeling happy. You can either join classes, learn the dance forms like Zumba, Salsa, Tango, Ballet, Hip Hop, etc, or you can start with free online tutorials and learn at home.
Craft Peace of Mind
5. Make Felt Toys
Working with hands is always a good choice to get rid of anxiety. And when the task involves your mind, you will be focusing on the job rather than think about things that harm your peace. Making felt toys is one such hobby that will push away your anxiety.
Felt is a material that is made by matting, condensing, and pressing different fibers together. The material is used to make toys, footwear, carpets, rugs, etc. You can make cute little felt toys when you feel overwhelmed by anxiety. They help you relax and also make you smile. Why not? Felt toys are so cute, you just can’t resist picking them up to cuddle (even if they are small).
6. Woodwork is a Stress Buster
Woodworking is an intense activity. It needs focus, concentration, and energy. It’s a physical as well as a mental activity. While lifting, chopping, sanding, chipping, and painting help burn calories, measuring, calculating, and designing make sure your mind is focused on the job.
Using the various tools needs concentration as you might end up hurting yourself if you are distracted. Woodworking also requires training to understand the types of wood, learn how to hold and use the tools, and put together the various parts to create the final product. People who want to take a hobby that requires 100% effort from their side should try woodworking. Moreover, the satisfaction of creating something from scratch is priceless.
7. Paper, Beads, & a Little of Everything
Crafting is counted amongst the beautiful ways to express your innermost feelings and emotions. Whether you use old papers, colorful beads, pieces of wood, broken plates, glass bottles, plastic boxes, tins, cans, or just about anything, the aim is to create something using these so-called useless and waste goods.
Crafting helps in improving concentration and reduces stress. Your anxiety levels will come down as you work on creating something with your hands. Remember that what you create doesn’t matter. It doesn’t have to be perfect. It should give you something worthwhile to do and keep negative thoughts away. Don’t get into competition and take extra stress. Let go and have fun.
Books and Art
8. Try Bullet Journaling
There are times when words on paper make more sense than random ideas in mind. The chaos gets unbearable if thoughts, emotions, and ideas are left in mind for too long. Putting them on paper will provide you the relief you are looking for and help understand things better.
Designer Ryder Carroll developed bullet Journaling. It’s a method to systematically arrange important information such as to-do lists, reminders, daily schedules, ideas, etc. By writing them down in a single organizer/ book, you can keep all your things at the same place and refer whenever necessary. Writing them by hand also gives you the freedom to make the book artsy and cute or perfectly aligned and organized based on your tastes.
9. Learn a New Language
Learning anything new is exciting and fun. It is scary too, but not when you truly want to learn something. Numerous languages are there in this world, and yet, we hardly know any of them. Learning a new language will boost your confidence. It will give you a chance to explore your strengths.
You also stay focused on the hobby and have fewer chances of worrying about life. This will reduce your anxiety levels. Thanks to technology, you don’t even have to go to a class. Online classes and courses work equally well. That said, going out and meeting new people and turning your hobby into a group activity might help even better. You might connect with others who have similar issues and learn how to fight anxiety and depression effectively.
10. Handwritten Notes are Underrated
When was the last time you wrote something? Not type or scribble but properly wrote on a new sheet of paper. Most of us use smartphones, laptops, and other devices for work and even for hobbies. Blogging and writing have become digital. Only a handful of people still prefer to write by hand before typing it on the computer.
It’s time to get back to writing by hand. Remember how you practiced cursive until your teacher was sure you perfected it? Why not put your cursive skills to use? Write something every day. Whether it is your thoughts or a story or a poem, or uplifting notes to yourself, take a pen and paper and write them down in your best handwriting. It does wonders for your mood.
11. Write Poems and Stories
As we have mentioned above, writing is a great way to express your thoughts and get rid of the doubts that are clouding your mind. But this does not only point to writing about what you think or feel. If you like telling stories, put them on the paper. Make up new stories, write poems.
Words have a lot of power and can change the world. If you are a reader (we’ll talk about it later), you will already be aware of the beauty of words. Let the words help you stay sane. Let the words create a new world where things go as per your wish.
Forms of Expression
12. Become an Actor
Amateur acting is great for people with anxiety. Yes. You are not you when you are acting. You become another person and take up their character traits and quirks. Being a part of the theatre group is a lot of fun. You get to see so many shades of people.
We understand it can be terrifying, but only if you let it have power over you. To get rid of anxiety, build confidence, and learn something new, you should give acting a try. Join the local theatre. You can stay as a beginner for as long as you can. The minute you become too serious about it, anxiety will start to creep in and push you to the first step again.
13. Grab the Mike and Sing
Music has always been a stress-buster. It is known to reduce anxiety and provide peace of mind. Being a music lover, you might even end up dancing on the couches without care on your favorite tunes. While you are enjoying the notes, beats, and lyrics, why not sing along?
In fact, why not take up singing as a hobby? Yes, you can sing. So what if it’s a little out of tune? So what if you can’t hit the right note. Having it as a hobby will make sure you work on your singing skills, right? You will learn to get better. Of course, if you are dead against singing, pick a musical instrument and learn it. That way, you can play your favorite songs of the instrument and hum with it.
14. Bloggers are Influencers
You do know that you are not alone, don’t you? There are so many others who are suffering from anxiety, depression, and mental breakdowns. Become a guiding light for them. Share your struggles and tell them how you overcame anxiety. Ask them to share their methods. You don’t even have to meet them in person. An online group does the job very well. Join a group, or better yet, start a blog.
Connect with people who are going through similar phases. Who better than someone in the same boat to share compassion and warmth, right? Become each other’s support systems and influence them to take the right direction and look at the positive side of life.
15. YouTube at Your Service
Do you enjoy watching funny videos on YouTube? Do you depend on YouTube tutorials to learn something? Why not use the same platform to give back to others? You don’t have to face the camera. Nope. Not if you don’t want it.
You can share videos of things that catch your attention. If you have a pet, you can share funny videos of your pet. If you love cooking, you can share your recipes (yes, without appearing on the camera). DIY lessons, yes! Go ahead. Sharing videos requires planning, organizing, editing, and then networking. This will improve your organization skills, bring out your creativity, and also improve your confidence levels.
The Kitchen (Garden) Beckons
16. Mix, Knead, & Bake
Anything that involves using your hands and fingers is highly therapeutic. That is the reason many people suggest us to join cooking and baking classes to reduce anxiety. If cooking brings forth the image of messy kitchen counters and boring food, think again. It doesn’t have to be that way.
Yes, absolutely. Cooking can be simple, rustic, easy, and pleasant. Whether you are making spaghetti for dinner or tossing a salad with fresh seasonal vegetables, cooking involves colors, smells, sounds, and textures that activate your senses. Baking takes things to the next level, but hey, imagine how lovely it would be when the house smells of freshly baked cookies. Contrary to the general opinion, cleaning and doing dishes is also good for the mind. The repeated actions bring down anxiety.
17. Green Gardens
Did you step out of your kitchen into the yard? Does it look lifeless or overcrowded? It’s time to pull on the gloves and start working on it. Remove the weeds, dig up the soil, and sprinkle the seeds of your favorite plants. Water the place each day and watch new life bloom.
Tending to one’s garden reduces depression. It brings peace and tranquility. A good garden also brings chirping birds, buzzing bees, and wonderful colors. You’ll make new friends in the animal kingdom.
Don’t worry if you don’t have a yard. You can still grow plants at home. Buy pots and boxes. Fill them with mud and manure mix. Plant herbs and small-sized plants. You can use the fresh produce in your cooking or just admire your handiwork. Gardening does require research, time, energy, and investment.
More to Try
18. Cross-stitch, Knit, & Crochet
Cross-stitch is a kind of needlework in which the stitches cross over one another. The entire design is stitched the same way using single or multiple color threads. Knitting, embroidery, and crocheting belong to the same category. Different needles are used for each of them. The process of creating a design is also different.
Knitting uses two long and pointed needles, crocheting uses a single needle with a hook, and embroidery needs smaller needles and finer thread. These hobbies have been famous for centuries. They are a source of livelihood as well for many people. All these are said to make you relax and get rid of anxiety and depression. They also improve concentration.
19. Offer a Helping Hand
You may wonder how helping others will reduce depression, especially when you are finding it hard to smile and lead a normal life. But that’s how it works. Helping another person, doing something nice for them has always made people smile. It brings a sense of satisfaction that pushes away the negative thoughts.
Whether it is someone you know, a stranger, or even an animal, a small gesture of compassion can bring loads of positivity for both parties. Helping those in need will make you forget your troubles for the time being. Your focus will be doing something worthwhile for the other person. It’ll calm your mind, relax your senses, and leave a big smile on your face.
20. Read, Read, & Read
We cannot emphasize enough about the importance of reading books. Books are not just sources of entertainment or knowledge. They hold valuable lessons inside the pages, waiting for readers to grasp the meanings behind the words.
Whether you join a book club (online/ offline) or read for yourself, make sure you read at least a handful of pages every day. Pick books that make you happy. Try different genres and authors. Experiment and explore different writings. We know choosing books is not easy. Look up websites like Goodreads to read reviews by other readers. You can also check for various must-read lists and pick a book from them.
21. Say Hello to Nature
How can we forget Nature? It has always been the best healer of mind, body, and soul. Spend time out in the open surrounded by trees and flowers. If you are growing a garden, sit with your plants, and talk to them. Keeping the windows open will let fresh air inside the house.
Go for walks in the parks and feed birds, go to animal conservatories, go camping and hiking, take up nature photography, or do anything that puts you closer to nature in the best possible way. Let the beauty around you inspire you to become stronger and say no to anxiety and depression.
There are numerous other hobbies you can take up to fight anxiety and depression. Be it cycling, coloring, painting, drawing, or swimming, choose hobbies that inspire you to let go of your fears and embrace something new and different. Don’t let your anxiety and stress hold you back. It’s time to adopt healthy hobbies and have a genuine smile on your face as you become a truly happy person.