Many of my patients find that with the demands of parenting, work, and family life that they don’t have many hobbies that are their own. Or their anxiety tells them they shouldn’t pursue hobbies because there are too many other “shoulds” to focus on.
What follows are some hobbies that not only are fun but can help decrease anxiety. They encourage feelings of creativity, helpfulness, and adventure. And when we feel good, we’re more likely to take actions that align with those good feelings.
Try These Activities to Decrease Anxiety
1. Writing. Writing is a great way to be creative and put your ideas out into the world. Writing is something you can do by yourself at any time in any location. You may not have enjoyed writing in school, but writing about things that interest you can be very rewarding on multiple levels.
2. Painting, sculpting, or other artistic activity. Allow the artist in you to blossom. There are many forms of artistic expression. Consider giving yourself the gift of creating something completely original.
3. Dancing. Perhaps painting and writing aren’t your thing. Maybe you’ve always wanted to dance. Now is as good a time as any to pursue this interest. Dancing has also been shown to boost cognitive performance. Clubs often offer free lessons. This can be a great way to make new friends, too.
4. Volunteering. Volunteering can be another way to meet your emotional needs. Few things feel as good as spending your time helping someone or something other than yourself. Volunteering can be rewarding in countless ways.
5. Music. Creating, playing, or writing music is another activity that many people find extremely pleasant and rewarding. In fact, listening to music has been shown to alter levels of dopamine, cortisol, oxytocin, and serotonin in people’s brains. Those are the same chemicals that prescription medication for anxiety and depression target. If you love music, this might be a great way to spend your free time.
6. Photography. Photography is another form of art. Capturing the perfect photograph is a huge thrill for many people. Digital cameras have made photography much more convenient and quite a bit easier.
7. Travel. There are people fascinated with other countries, peoples, and cultures. Travel, particularly to warm climates, has been shown to reduce stress and improve well-being. This effect is boosted when meeting with and interacting with new people while traveling.
8. Bonsai. This is another calming and artistic activity. Crafting the perfect bonsai tree takes talent, skill, and patience. You probably have a club near you dedicated to this activity.
9. Gardening. Get your hands in the earth and grow something. Flowers, vegetables, berries, and herbs can all be rewarding to plant and nurture. This is something that many children love to do, too.
Hobbies are enjoyable activities that you choose to do. But a hobby can provide more than just enjoyment. A hobby could provide the social interaction that you crave. It can scratch your need to be creative. It can change levels of neurotransmitters in your brain. It can also allow you to feel needed and helpful.
Think about what you need in your life and look for a hobby that can fulfill that need. Having fun and satisfying a need at the same time is a tough combination to beat.
If you’re struggling with balancing it all, please reach out. Supporting you on this journey is what I love to do.