October 3, 2020 | Written by Derek Doyle
To each their own when it comes to stress relief. Whatever you find effective is probably a good method, though arguably some ideas are better than others.
A healthy diet, exercise, and mindful and meditative practices are all popular and practical methods of stress relief. In a time where stress is more pertinent than ever, some folks are resorting to some pretty, well … strange ideas.
But if cage fighting, swimming with sharks, and interpretive dance aren’t exactly your cup of tea, there are a ton of fun and easy hobbies you can try to give yourself a break from the stress of everyday life. Check out these hobby ideas that you can try from the comfort (and safety) of your own home.
YEP! STRESS IS BAD FOR YOU!
Apologies for the scare tactics, but before we get to new hobbies, a little motivation to address the stress in your life couldn’t hurt.
You’ve undoubtedly heard that stress has negative effects on your physical and emotional health, but it’s impossible to overstate the toll stress can take. Stress releases a chemical called cortisol into your brain, which triggers your body’s fight or flight reaction. When this reaction occurs frequently, it can have lasting effects on your central nervous system, cardiovascular health, and muscle development. In summary, not good.
UP IS THE NEW DOWN
Giving yourself time to slow down, wind down, calm down, and sit down is a tried–and–true method to de–stress from all that life throws at us. But let’s talk about some things that you can pick up, start up, whip up, tidy up, and build up to reduce stress and have some fun along the way!
1. Cooking and baking
Not only is cooking a creative, fun, and satisfying hobby, but it’s also a great opportunity to build your social circle and community. There are a ton of cool group cooking classes to meet new people while expanding your cooking abilities. Plus, you can show off your new skills by hosting a fun picnic lunch or dinner party.
There are also endless cooking resources out there, like cooking shows, books, online tutorials, and meetups, to hone your new craft. Are we going to recommend you cook up some healthy foods? You bet your banana bread we are! Eating a healthy diet full of essential vitamins and minerals is a great way to help your body ward off stress.
2. Arts and crafts
While once considered alternative or New Age, art therapy is now a mainstay in modern mental health treatment. Drawing and painting are great options of course, but many are getting creative and branching out into calligraphy, needlepoint, knitting, and even contemporary techniques like graffiti and spray paint stenciling. That last one is my personal favorite, and I’ve found it to be really effective and fun.
3. Home organization and cleaning
After a long, stressful day, coming home and cleaning may not seem like a particularly appealing idea, but there’s a bit more to it than tidying up.
There is a meditative and calming effect to working on monotonous and repetitive tasks. It’s a great way to quiet your mind, which in turn can be a powerful stress reliever. Cleaning your home can also be a great practice in gratitude by boosting appreciation and pride in where you live.
Perhaps the most effective element of cleaning to de–stress is the theory of decluttering your mind by decluttering your surroundings. Stress is a natural reaction to piled up laundry, dirty dishes, and a messy garage or closet. Minimizing and decluttering chaotic areas in your home and workspace can be a surprisingly therapeutic and healthy habit. Plus, you might even find the missing TV remote or earring.
Becoming a true green thumb is a bit trickier than it may seem, which is actually part of the appeal. Working in the garden, cultivating, researching techniques, and understanding seasons all take time, practice, and dedication.
It is instinctual in us to create, nurture, and care for living things, so this feeling of purpose can be a rewarding and valuable process. Plus, the pride and satisfaction of a harvest is massively rewarding. Not to mention how healthy and delicious it is to take advantage of your work by enjoying fresh organic fruits and veggies.
5. Trying new exercises and outdoor activities
That’s right, this idea must include something you’re trying for the first time or just getting into. It’s fairly well known that any exercise and movement that gets your heart rate up will release healthy chemicals into your brain to naturally relieve stress. But by adding the benefit and excitement from trying something new and unknown, you are forcing yourself to focus on learning, understanding, mimicking, and attempting. All of which stimulate parts of your brain to promote linear thinking and prosocial functioning.
Why not take up hiking or mountain biking? Exercise in tandem with navigation can really add a layer of adventure. Maybe you’ve always wanted to try sailing or snorkeling. Or maybe you can try your aim at archery or give stand–up paddleboarding a shot. Can you imagine how cool your Instagram feed will start to look? #happy #healthy #fun
Regardless of what the particular activity is, the important part is to pick something exciting and fun while also getting a bit of exercise.
The theory of newness and happiness
Are you like me in the sense that, as soon as I get the notification that my package has shipped, I can’t hit the button to track it fast enough? What’s up with that? Sometimes I even get excited for a package I’m not even really looking forward to getting. Yet, for some reason, getting something new always seems to have at least a little excitement.
Guess what? Science supports the idea that we can achieve that same happiness and excitement through trying new things. So get out there and give something new a try. You’ll be amazed how good it feels and how quickly a hobby turns into a passion.