If you suffer from anxiety and/or depression, you are certainly not alone. These common, debilitating mental health conditions are on the rise, and to feel better, it’s essential to be proactive.
In addition to traditional treatments, such as talk therapy, medication, exercise, and relaxation techniques, WebMD recommends getting involved in meaningful activities and diving into creative pursuits to rediscover your interests, talents, and strengths.
Here at Hobby Help, we know that hobbies come with a plethora of physical and mental health benefits, like beating the blues and staving off stress.
In fact, it has been clinically proven in many medical studies. Take a look at this clinical study to learn more. Whether you’re keen on exploring a brand new hobby, or you’re intent on rediscovering an activity you once enjoyed, read on! We’ve compiled a list of the 12 best hobbies to fight anxiety and depression.
Of course, the hobbies listed in this article aren’t just hobbies for people with anxiety and depression, anyone looking for a feel-good hobby can take part. If you want to keep anxious thoughts at bay through positive activities, or you want to try something new, take a look at the hobbies in this list and give them a go.
What Are The Best Hobbies to Help Fight Anxiety & Depression?
Countless experts are recommending mindfulness for brain and body health. To reap the benefits of mindfulness without traditional daily meditation sessions, consider picking up your camera and heading outside.
Not only does photography get you out of your head and home; it allows you to discover new, exciting places, tap into the beauty of nature, and preserve memories that can be passed down to future generations.
2. Playing Music
WebMD suggests setting goals to help beat anxiety and depression. Setting and achieving musical goals is likely to boost your confidence, which will undoubtedly spill over into other areas of your life.
A writing or journaling practice is a great way to express your thoughts and feelings. You never know what might come out when you put pen to paper. Many great writers have said that their own work surprised them.
Writing for depression and/or anxiety can be especially beneficial, as you can track symptoms and patterns that may be contributing to your condition(s). If the thought of journaling doesn’t excite you, try writing fiction, which can be an amazing escape from the monotony of everyday life.
4. Drawing, Painting, and Sculpting
Artistic pursuits can be incredibly healing. Engagement in creative activities has been scientifically proven to reduce stress, anxiety, and even mood disturbances. Creative expression through art has been linked to a myriad of health benefits, from improved physical and psychological wellbeing to quality of life.
Even if you’ve never explored your creative side, try drawing, painting, or sculpting. If you’re stumped on where to start, consider signing up for a class. We also recommend Zentangle, which is relaxing and will encourage you to expand your imagination. Check out our recent guide to fluid art painting.
5. Arts and Crafts
If you’ve never tried sewing, knitting, embroidery, or rug-tufting this is an excellent time to explore your crafty side. With so much information available online, you have a massive virtual library of free resources at your fingertips.
Healthline reports that creative pursuits have the power to shift a person’s thoughts from their health condition to the positive aspects of his or her life. In fact, engaging in crafts can mimic the effects of meditation.
The joy of coloring isn’t reserved for kids. With so many adult coloring books on the market, you shouldn’t have trouble finding a selection that speaks to your inner child.
Coloring can be nostalgic, relaxing, and downright fun. Plus, completing a page is a welcome reward after a trying day.
While virtually any type of physical activity can boost your mood and take your mind off your worries, dance serves as “moving meditation,” and it’s an excellent way to connect with others.
Many individuals view exercise as a chore, and for those with anxiety and/or depression, motivation to hit the treadmill can be seemingly impossible to summon. By pursuing a type of movement you actually enjoy, you’ll actually look forward to each sweat session.
Many avid swimmers refer to the sport as medicine. It’s an invigorating, yet relaxing form of physical activity that’s repetitive, making it meditative.
In a blog post published on Psychcentral.com, associate editor Therese J. Borchard writes, “I’ve always known that I climb out of any pool a lot happier than when I dove in.” She adds, “It’s like taking a Tylenol for a headache!”
As it turns out, finding your inner yogi can also lead to decreased anxiety and depression. According to researchers at Harvard Medical School, “the scientific study of yoga demonstrates that mental and physical health are not just closely allied, but are essentially equivalent.”
The best part? You can practice yoga virtually anywhere. A quick Google search will connect you with classes in your area. We also recommend Yoga with Adriene’s Yoga for Anxiety and Stress and Yoga for Depression on YouTube. You may want to start with our beginner guide to Yoga.
If you struggle with the ruminating thoughts that often accompany anxiety and depression, hiking can be particularly helpful. Doctors are now writing “nature prescriptions,” which encourage patients to disconnect from technology and reap the physical and mental health rewards of connecting with the great outdoors.
According to WebMD, just five minutes in nature can boost mood, self-esteem, and motivation. If lacing up your hiking boots seems more like a chore than a hobby, slip on your sneakers and take a brisk walk in the sunshine instead.
Another great hobby that will help you become one with nature is gardening. Whether you choose to plant an entire vegetable garden or a pot of your favorite flowers, gardening stops negative feelings in their tracks and decreases the severity of other mental health symptoms.
If gardening at home isn’t an option, consider volunteering at a community garden, or stop at a local nursery and look for plants you can grow indoors.
A simple and inexpensive way to restore calm and inner peace, give meditation a shot. Anyone can practice it, and it just takes a few minutes out of your day.
It’s widely believed that certain foods can improve physical and mental health, but the act of cooking has also been linked to anxiety and depression relief. Preparing a meal requires focusing on the task at hand, and chopping, stirring, and sautéing can be downright meditative.
One key to keeping cooking fun is trying new ingredients. Look for recipes that incorporate foods known for their depression and anxiety-busting benefits. WebMD suggests plenty of antioxidants and protein, “smart” carbs, B vitamins, and omega-3 fatty acids.
If you’ve never spent time in the kitchen, consider taking a cooking class. You’ll learn how to whip up your own healthy meals and connect with other new chefs.
Practice Courage, Commitment, Compassion, and Companionship
It takes courage to try a new hobby, especially when you’re feeling overwhelmed and/or down. Try committing to a hobby from our list and practicing self-compassion. The last thing you need is a self-imposed guilt trip when dealing with anxiety and/or depression.
Prioritize your hobby time by scheduling the activity as you would schedule an appointment. It can also help to invite a friend to join you. Companionship can make a new activity more enjoyable and helps with accountability.
Looking for more inspiration? Check out our list of 100+ Awesome Hobbies to Try This Year. From collecting and crafts to outdoor activities and games, we’ve carefully curated a collection of fun, relaxing, and mood-lifting hobbies to help you experience life on a whole new level!
Will spending time reading help with my anxiety?
Yes, if reading is something that you enjoy doing then it most certainly can reduce stress and anxiety. Try reading your book in the garden or on the beach to heighten the experience.
What are some additional healthy ways to cope with stress?
Reducing your coffee and alcohol intake will make you feel less on edge. Coffee and alcohol are notorious for increasing stress levels and blood pressure.
Another brilliant way to cope with stress is to do half an hour of exercise every day and to participate in your favorite activities. Try to incorporate arts and crafts activities into your life as it is a brilliant way to occupy your mind and stimulate your brain with positive thoughts.
How can I find new hobby ideas to try out?
We have plenty of hobby ideas and inspiration on our site. Have a look through some of our articles and discover your next hobby.
How do I know I’m suffering from depression?
Seek professional guidance if you believe you may be suffering from anxiety or depression. Thousands of people are diagnosed every day with depression and you are not alone. Your health care provider will be able to guide you through appropriate treatment and counseling.