Looking for ways to reduce stress? Why not engaging in a hobby?
Stress is an unavoidable part of daily life for adults. Whether stress arises from work, finances, or relationships, it can be detrimental to your emotional and physical health. There are many ways to reduce stress, but studies show engaging in hobbies has a consistent and lasting effect on stress levels.
The Importance of Entertainment
The Mayo Clinic recognizes stress as a factor in many physical and mental ailments. While some concerns, such as a headache, are temporary, stress can also play a part in long-term concerns like heart disease. Finding ways to reduce stress can also reduce health issues.
A 2007 study from Indiana University stated: “leisure can help people to successfully manage their stress, thereby preventing illness.” Continued research has increased the understanding of the roles that hobbies can play in health. Study results published in The Society of Behavioral Medicine showed that participants reported feeling less stress and experienced a lower heart rate while engaging in a variety of leisure activities. Those health benefits continued for about an hour after each activity concluded. The study also showed that the stress-reduction benefits of recreation can be achieved whether you have fun with others or on your own – whatever form your downtime activity takes, you can enjoy less stress.
Mindfulness is the practice of focusing on the present time and your current actions, without allowing your mind to wander to the past or the future. Mindfulness has been linked to a multitude of positive mental, physical, and social health effects, with even the American Psychological Association touting its benefits. Stressful thoughts, such as worrying about a problem at work, can be cleared away by mindful focus.
Engaging mindfulness practices can be done at any time, as they don’t require any equipment or money. Although it takes practice to have a successful mindfulness experience, getting started is easy. Visual Meditation has a great video to help you to increase mindfulness.
Find the Right Hobby
A successful hobby is one you enjoy. Each person’s tastes and talents will affect the hobbies they can enjoy. Forcing yourself to participate in an activity you don’t enjoy can have the opposite of the desired stress-releasing effects.
Here are some ideas to help you discover the hobby that is right for you:
1. Stamp Collecting
Stamp collecting is a hobby that anyone can enjoy. There is almost no physical activity, making it great for all ages and ability levels. The cost to begin collecting is very low, there is very little special equipment required, and the weather has no effect on this hobby. The American Philatelic Society has all of the information required to start your own collection.
Over the last decades, knitting has seen a resurgence in popularity. Many people are taking up needles and creating blankets, clothes, kitchen materials, and more. With so much demand for the craft, stores that carry knitting supplies, like Jo-Ann Fabrics, offer classes for beginners and more skilled crafters. Not only do these classes make learning easier, they’re a great way to make new friends. If you don’t feel like taking a class, YouTube has numerous tutorials to get you started.
Exercise has been repeatedly shown to reduce stress, and it has the added benefit of helping you stay in shape. It may seem daunting to begin running, but apps like Couch to 5K can help you get started in a healthy and effective way.
Gardening is often seen as an outdoor activity. You don’t need to own a home or even have a plot of land to have a green thumb! Plenty of plants can be grown indoors. Herbs, flowers, and small selections of fruits and vegetables can easily be grown in window boxes or indoor pots, and in the case of herbs or produce, your hobby can supply you with both relaxation and a meal.
Books can transport the reader to another world, away from their daily stressors. With the innumerable genres and authors to choose from, everyone can find a book they enjoy. Bookstore employees are quick to make suggestions for good books, and e-readers make nearly any book available in a manner of seconds. Reading can also be a free hobby thanks to public libraries; just be sure to return your books on time to avoid late fees.
Stress Release for Everyone
Hobbies are a simple way to reduce occasional and chronic stress. Whether you choose to participate in a solo hobby or get together with a group of friends, there are plenty of different pastimes for you to try out. Finding a hobby you enjoy and combining it with the practice of mindfulness will reduce stress, clear your mind, and have lasting effects on physical and mental health.
About the author:
Elliott Garrick is a passionate blogger and crafts addict. In her spare time, she likes to collect stamps and turn them into beautiful art. She is also a regular contributor to PostageStamps101.com.