4 Healthy Stress Relieving Hobbies

It can be difficult to find the motivation to do anything when we start feeling stressed. Everything seems to pile up until we are feeling too overwhelmed and anxious to do anything productive. Managing stress can be difficult, but there are several hobbies that we can pick up to start feeling a little more relaxed and ready to take on our day.

Gardening

Gardening can be a great way to promote relaxation and relieve stress. A 2011 study in the Journal of Health Psychology, Gardening Promotes Neuroendocrine and Affective Restoration from Stress, studied the stress-relieving effects of thirty minutes of gardening and reading. The study found, “Gardening and reading each led to decreases in cortisol during the recovery period, but decreases were significantly stronger in the gardening group. Positive mood was fully restored after gardening, but further deteriorated during reading. These findings provide the first experimental evidence that gardening can promote relief from acute stress.” When we garden, the body is moving and the mind is focused on a single task, leading to an overall relaxing and meditative state.

Painting and Drawing

When we are singularly focused one on activity, like painting or drawing, we can get into a ‘flow,’ or a sense of peace and serenity from engaging in the activity. Elizabeth Scott, in a 2017 VeryWell article, Art Therapy: Relieve Stress by Being Creative, explains that the ‘flow’ is a mental state that “carries many of the benefits of meditation, leaving you much less stressed when you’re done. You can experience ‘flow’ when you’re doing creative activities like writing and even gardening. You can also get it from drawing.”

Journaling

It can be cathartic to get all of our thoughts out on paper. According to Carina Wolff in a 2016 article for Bustle, “Multiple studies show that keeping a journal can help reduce stress as well as symptoms of anxiety and depression. Writing down your thoughts helps you clarify your thoughts and emotions and reflect on your feelings, all in a healthy manner.” When we are writing for ourselves with no intended audience, we are not bound by any limitations and can be as creative as we wish.

Reading

Reading can be like taking a vacation without actually going anywhere. Research from the University of Sussex found that reading can reduce stress levels by 68 percent. When we read, even for only six minutes a day, our heart rate slows and our muscle tension is decreased. Dr. David Lewis, in a 2009 Telegraph article, explains, “It really doesn’t matter what book you read, by losing yourself in a thoroughly engrossing book you can escape from the worries and stresses of the everyday world and spend a while exploring the domain of the author’s imagination. This is more than merely a distraction but an active engaging of the imagination as the words on the printed page stimulate your creativity and cause you to enter what is essentially an altered state of consciousness.”

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