Hobbies For Stress Relief
If you’re like many people right now, you’ve been essentially home-bound since March of this year. The fear and anxiety surrounding the COVID-19 pandemic has negatively affected even the most emotionally stable among us. With no immediate relief still in sight, it is becoming increasingly important for everyone to focus on self-care. This not only means eating well, exercising, and finding small ways to connect with friends and family but participating in activities that are emotionally, mentally, and spiritually engaging. With the need to restrict activities to your home base, the social distancing restrictions have created a prime opportunity to pick up a new hobby. Here are some home-based hobbies that will help you re-establish that balance that may be missing from your life right now:
1) GARDENING: Gardening not only gives you an opportunity to focus on something outside of yourself, it also offers the chance to connect spiritually back to the earth, literally “grounding” you. Whether you have a large yard or a small patio area, planting something and watching it grow gives you the opportunity to feed your body and soul with fresh air and sunlight. Aside from the natural relief of spending time outdoors, natural sunlight and the Vitamin D it provides fights off the very real effects of Seasonal Affect Disorder, a type of depression that is related to the change of seasons particularly in the winter months when outside activities are significantly reduced.
2) PLAY AN INSTRUMENT: Maybe you played the trumpet in high school, but haven’t picked one up since then or you’ve always wanted to learn how to play the violin. If you have time to watch an hour or two of television every night, you have time to learn how to play an instrument. There are some great online music lessons available like www.playgroundsessions.com where you can learn how to play the piano from instructors like Harry Connick, Jr. and Quincy Jones or www.imusic-school.com that offers music lessons for a variety of instruments plus vocal lessons and conducting classes. Aside from the joy of learning something new, listening to and creating music has been a proven stress reliever and in at least one study from McGill University in 2013, it was shown to also improve the immune system function. Furthermore, researchers are also finding that the act of making music, whether professional or casual, can actually shut off the trigger switch in our brain that causes a stress response. In an article on webmd.com, Susan Kuchinskas explains, “When our senses detect a possible threat in the environment, the body undergoes a chain reaction in which genes within each cell switch on, directing the cells to produce chemicals associated with the stress response. Playing music sets off an opposite chain reaction that switches these genes off again.”
3) ART THERAPY: a 2016 study published in the Journal of American Art Therapy Association found that just 45 minutes of creative activity can reduce your stress, regardless of your artistic talent or abilities.1. Creating art, whether it’s painting, doodling, sculpture, or scrapbooking, taps into what psychologists describe as a “state of flow,” or a mildly meditative state which can increase your focus and provide relaxation benefits. Art therapy has the added benefit of providing an activity that can help you externalize the elements of stress in your life. In other words, explore the possibility of painting, sketching, drawing, or creating a concrete representation of your fear and anxiety. If you can study and appreciate this representation visually, it becomes less of an obstacle to overcome spiritually.
4) GET A PET: While animal shelters at the beginning of the pandemic saw a surge in adoptions and people willing to temporarily foster, as more people go back to work, or are facing unemployment and housing transitions, the shelters are starting to fill back up again. Numerous studies have shown that having a pet can significantly reduce your blood pressure, relieve stress, and improve your mood. Pets provide unconditional love and the need to care for another living creature can often bring us out of our own depression. Dogs especially give you a reason to get out and exercise as they require daily walks and/or playtime and training. The frequency at which a cat purrs has been shown to have wound healing properties. And don’t discount the pocket pets like guinea pigs and rabbits. These intelligent rodents can be litter box trained and can even easily be trained to do tricks and run agility courses!
There are so many more choices for hobbies that can be done at home: woodworking, journaling, knitting, sewing, and baking are just a few. The most important thing is to find something you enjoy that requires your focus. Use this opportunity to learn something entirely new or refine your skills on a hobby you’ve neglected for a while. If you are having trouble finding motivation or feel spiritually blocked, I’m here to help you find those triggers and guide you through it.
1. Kaimal G, Ray K, Muniz J. Reduction of Cortisol Levels and Participants’ Responses Following Art Making. Art Ther (Alex). 2016;33(2):74-80. doi:10.1080/07421656.2016.1166832