hobbies to reduce stress

8 stress-busting hobbies that can help you relax

Hobbies not only enable you to do something you enjoy outside of work, but they can also serve as powerful tools for self-improvement.
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In our fast-paced and demanding schedules, it is almost impossible to escape the occasional feeling of stress. Between juggling your work and personal obligations, you may find it difficult to spare some time to unwind and relax. Over time, you are bound to feel worn out and even overwhelmed by the pressures of daily life. Therefore, it is important to incorporate healthy and fun recreational activities that allow you to reset your body and mind.

One way to bring a positive change into your hectic life is through stress-busting hobbies. Focussing on a hobby that is both enjoyable and meaningful can boost your mental health and help you stay calm. Hobbies not only give you much-needed downtime but also help take your mind off negative emotions.

According to research published in The Journal of Positive Psychology, people who spent time on a creative activity every day had overall increased feelings of positive psychological wellbeing compared to those who did not.  Hobbies not only enable you to do something you enjoy outside of work, but they can also serve as powerful tools for self-improvement.

Make sure the hobbies you pick up are meaningful and something that brings you joy. To make things easier, here are some fun and enriching hobbies to add spark to your life and help keep those daily stressors at bay.

Dance your way through stress

Most people take up dancing as a hobby, but over time, they come to realise that it makes them happier. Dancing is not only a fun activity but is also a great form of exercise. Like any other cardio activity, dancing has mood-enhancing benefits and is a great stress reliever. It causes your body to release endorphins (also called happy hormones) that act as natural painkillers while improving your quality of sleep, which in turn, can help you feel calm. And nothing makes you feel less stressed when you know you are indulging in a hobby that’s great for your physical and mental health.

Put on your chef’s hat

Cooking is an interesting hobby for many reasons. Learning the basics of cooking is not only a great way to eat healthy but also more economical than ordering in. Added to that, there is a sense of joy and accomplishment in cooking for your family and loved ones by trying new recipes and even creating something unique. But what might not be obvious is that cooking is a meditative activity that can be a great stress-buster. Cooking engages our senses and provides an outlet for our creativity, which in turn, stimulates different parts of the brain to reduce stress and improve our mood. So, the next time you feel like you need a break, head straight to the kitchen.

Curl up with your favourite book

Another stress-busting hobby you can pick up is reading. A study found that 30 minutes of reading can lower blood pressure, heart rate and stress just as effectively as yoga and humour do. Reading is a wonderful way to escape into a literary world, free from the stressors of everyday life. It engages the mind and imagination, and by focussing on a single task, allows the mind to relax and reduce stress. Start with the one book you’ve been dying to read and build up your reading habit with time. So, the next you feel overwhelmed, pick up a book instead of switching on the television.

Maintain a journal

Keeping a journal is more than just a way to document your experiences and record your thoughts. It is an effective stress-relieving hobby too. Penning down your thoughts is a type of “brain dump” that allows you to express yourself and gives you clarity. By jotting down your feelings and emotions—good and bad—as they occur gives you the time to take a step back and reflect on yourself. There are no set rules for journalling. You can write about pretty much everything that comes to your mind. Doing so will help you process your negative emotions and develop a more positive frame of mind, an important aspect of stress management.

Groove to some music

Listening to your favourite song or artist can do more than just provide background music. Music can be an extremely effective stress management tool. The soothing power of music has positive effects on your mind and body, such as slowing down your pulse and heart rate, lowering your blood pressure and decreasing your stress hormones. The choice of music varies widely between individuals, but classical music may be worth giving a try when selecting calming music. A scientific study based on research by the Royal College of Music’s Centre for Performance Science has proven that classical music physically reduces stress. So, spending a half-hour every day listening to your favourite playlist can be a great stress-busting hobby.

Draw or paint

Drawing or painting at any skill level has been proven to be an effective way to de-stress and relieve yourself from anxiety. When you engage in art—painting, sketching, colouring, drawing or even making random doodles—you take your mind off daily stressors by becoming deeply engrossed in the activity. By becoming involved in the process of creating something, you find a channel for expressing your emotions and feelings that may be difficult to put into words. As your concentration builds, your mind starts to shut off from unwanted thoughts, which makes you calm and relaxed.

Play an instrument

Learning to play an instrument may seem complicated but with the help of the internet, you can reap the many benefits of this hobby. Just like painting, playing an instrument absorbs your full attention and is a wonderful tool for creative expression. Also, when you learn to play an instrument, you’re developing a skill you can enjoy for the rest of your life. When you understand what goes into creating music, you’ll learn to appreciate it even more. At the end of a long day, playing your instrument can be a perfect way to create a mindful state to de-stress and relax.

Indulge your green thumb

Gardening is a popular stress-busting hobby that can be enjoyed by people of all age groups. Anyone who has tended to a garden knows how great it feels to see the seeds you planted grow into a plant. Whether you have a small balcony or a vast amount of space, getting your hands dirty and creating a garden can help regulate your emotions and reduce stress, anxiety and depression. Gardening is the perfect way to distract yourself from worries and gain a sense of purpose and pride that can be hard to find elsewhere.

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