Stress is a natural part of being human, but too much can be dangerous. We all encounter daily stressors that can easily add up to have a major impact on our day.
Working long hours at a difficult job can substantially increase your stress level. Worrying over financial debt can cause a myriad of health problems from weight gain to exacerbation of chronic diseases. Spending significant amounts of time stuck in traffic can increase muscle tension, anxiety and can cause cholesterol to rise. Additionally, long commute times can increase your risk of getting into a car accident. Residents of Phoenix, Arizona spend an average of 35 hours per year in traffic and have an accident likelihood 5.7% higher than the national average.
Learning to manage your stress safely means a healthier and happier life for you in the long run. Hobbies are a great way to help reduce stress. If you’re looking to take up a hobby that will help ease some of your daily stress, see if any of the activities below catch your attention.
1. Read a good book
Reading is a perfect activity for escaping some of the stress of everyday life. The whole point of a good book is that it transports you to another reality and allows you to spend some time in a fantasy world. Sites like Goodreads allow users to rate and track books while networking with other users. You can also use it to keep track of books you’ve already enjoyed and find similar works to read next. Once you’ve rated 20 books, Goodreads will be able to recommend new ones based on your interests.
2. Take up coloring
Coloring might strike you as a childish activity, but more and more adult coloring books are being released as time passes. Coloring has been shown for some time now to reduce anxiety, and the structure of a coloring book can be soothing to those who have anxiety regarding more open forms of artistic expression. Coloring books take away the stress of having to create something unique and artsy — you can simply relax and fill the lines with color.
3. Put together puzzles
The problem-solving and memory skills required while putting together puzzles makes it the perfect activity for losing yourself. When you’re sitting with the pieces in front of you, trying to work out how they all fit together, other problems melt away and your mind focuses on the task at hand. Another plus of jigsaw puzzles is that once you’re finished, you have a nice picture you can seal together and frame. Putting together puzzles can also be a group activity. Grab a few friends and relax by starting a new puzzle together.
4. Start baking
Baking requires precise measuring and focus for your treats to turn out right. Not only do you have yummy food at the end of your hobby session, but you can also use your new hobby to make friends or even a little extra money. You can send out goody baskets to the neighbors or sell your leftover treats at the local farmer’s market. Baked goods can save you money, too: Making your own bread or sweets can cut down on what you need to buy at the grocery store.
5. Start gardening
Gardening can take a lot of work to do right, but the payoff makes it totally worth it. Not only do many people get a great sense of purpose from creating life with their own hands, but you also get the reward of fresh fruits and veggies. Gardening is a very sensory activity: There’s an abundance of smells and textures to experience, which makes this a perfect activity to share with children. Even a small flower garden can make a huge difference in how you feel.
6. Get into scrapbooking
Almost anyone born before the digital era has an abundance of photographs in a box somewhere. Why not put all those old photos to use by starting a scrapbook? Scrapbooking is kind of like a visual journal. You combine all these images from different times in your life with colorful borders and stickers that make them come to life. Scrapbooks make great gifts, too! Fill one with memories you’ve shared with a loved one and add in some stories of your own to make a unique gift they’re sure to appreciate.
7. Start a journal
A journal is something for you to pour your thoughts and feelings into, and for some people, this outlet is exactly what they need to let go of their stress. Keeping a journal gives you a private space to talk about whatever you want, however you want, for as long as you want. Think of your journal as a friend with really good listening skills, and put it all out on the page.
8. Learn to knit
The repetitive motions involved with knitting can invoke a kind of meditative state, putting your body on autopilot and allowing it to relax. Knitting can act as a natural anti-depressant, and having a physical outcome at the end of the activity makes it that much more rewarding.
A new hobby can make all the difference in your stress levels. Trying one of the activities above can help reduce stress levels and also help you live a longer life. Next time you feel your stress start to rise, try something new — you never know what hobby you’ll be truly great at.
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Author: Savannah Hemmings
Savannah Hemmings graduated from Tulane University with a degree in Journalism and Mass Communications. She is a Philadelphia-based personal stylist and writes about style, fashion and fitness on her lifestyle blog, Sincerely Savannah. Her work has been featured on Hello Giggles, Bustle, Self Magazine and TIME. She has a passion for fitness and you can almost always find her training for her next marathon.