Have you ever wished you could figure out how to unwind from a busy, stressful day? In other words, how to clear your mind helping you forget about what’s keeping you riddled with anxiety and tension.  Do you have a hobby?  If not, it’s time to consider what will bring you enjoyment while helping tune-out stress-related thoughts and feelings leading to a calmer you.

Everyone deals with stress – it helps to know you are not alone. The good news is there are plenty of ways to spend time away from stressful triggers.  One such way is having a fulfilling hobby helping combat stress.

Hobbies are a perfect and productive way to improve the quality of your life.  Look up the definition of the word “hobby” and it’s aptly described as an activity or interest pursued for pleasure or relaxation.  And that’s the point.  Hobbies are meant to bring you pure joy and gratification helping provide an outlet for the intensities of life.  If stress is left unchecked, it can contribute to health problems such as high blood pressure, heart disease, obesity, and diabetes. 

Hobbies enrich your life by providing a purpose and a means of taking time out to delight in the pure pleasure they offer.  Even the busiest of us who claim to have “no time” for hobbies, would be wise to carve some out time taking advantage of these pleasurable pastimes helping relieve stress and anxiety while nurturing health and well-being.  

11 best stress-relieving hobbies for good health

There are literally thousands of different hobbies you can choose from – most can be extremely valuable for relieving stress.  Depending on your interests and what you find relaxing will vary from others and that’s okay.  We each have our own interests and skills we possess allowing us the chance to explore what we like and what we are good at.

Everyone will have their own unique pleasurable pastimes they enjoy but here are 11 hobbies that for many people provide much needed stress relief we all seek:

  1. Birdwatching 

One of the best excuses to get outdoors is to go birdwatching. No matter how stressed out your day has been, taking your binoculars and using it to find feathered friends can bring a sense of calm and tranquility.  It’s hard not to feel your blood pressure lowering along with stress and worries fading away looking at and hearing the cheerful tunes birds sing out.  It also is a great way to get in some exercise by following and tracking birds in their natural setting keeping you in physical condition.

2. Playing a musical instrument

The language of music is the one universal means of connecting all of us together providing tremendous amounts of stress relief.  Whether listening to or creating music, this powerful tension reliever captures your full attention providing a means of creative expression.  Learning to play an instrument such as the piano can be just the outlet you need to calm down your anxiety.  Playing a musical instrument throughout life also serves as a challenging cognitive exercise making your brain more fit as you age in addition to lowering blood pressure and reducing heart rate. 

3. Painting or drawing

Here is another creative hobby that can turn anxiety and feelings of stress into calm and relaxation.  For anyone artistic and even the not-so-blessed artist, the ability to paint or draw is a method of channeling your emotions distracting yourself from the pressures of life.  When we create something beautiful it gives us a feeling or pride and joy in revealing our inner selves.

4. Maintaining an aquarium

Watching fish gracefully and effortlessly swim is one of the most relaxing scenes to view.  This is one of the reasons why aquariums are often seen in doctor’s offices and retirement homes as they have been shown to lower blood pressure and ease anxiety.  This hobby can also provide a person with creating an underwater environment unique to their own tastes – from the fish chosen to rocks and plants used for decoration.

5. Gardening

No stress relieving hobby list would be complete without mentioning gardening.  Considered one of the best stress relievers of all time, gardening gets you outdoors breathing in fresh air, soaking in some sunshine and getting your hands into nature. This hobby removes you from the stressors of life improving mood and attitude in addition to being a good workout.  All that digging, planting, and pulling does more than produce plants – it also burns calories, increases heart and hand strength, and makes you feel happy.

6. Reading

There may be no other hobby that can whisk you away into a different realm quicker than sitting down with a good book.  Reading is a wonderful and healthy means of escape from the stress of everyday life.  Simply opening a book to read forces you to sit down, put your feet up and relax, going on a journey to wherever it takes you. Reading is particularly good for brain health. Studies have shown reading complex poetry helps the brain remain elastic and active. Reading is also considered a brain exercise helping slow down mental decline.

7. Photography

From using our cellphones to elaborate cameras, the advent of dramatically improved picture taking quality and ease of use has catapulted photography as a fun, imaginative, and visionary hobby. When viewing the world through a lens, you view the world differently. Suddenly you find yourself looking for opportunities to snap a photo that showcases how you see things helping you to look for beauty and goodness in life.

8. Puzzles

Putting together a puzzle is a terrific way to engage our minds by developing brain power but also taking a needed break from life’s stressors.  Whether you’re working on a 500 or 1,000 piece puzzle, taking some time to think about what fits where can also help you sort out the pieces of life that may need putting back together.

9. Hiking

Hitting a hiking trail is not only a great stress-reliever but also a healthy way to get in aerobic exercise.  From being outdoors in naturally calming surroundings to giving you the freedom to think and relax freely for an extended period of time, hiking will refresh and invigorate you in combatting stress on a regular basis. It also helps you to disassociate from the stresses of life by focusing on the wonders of nature around you.

   10. Cooking

Probably a hobby with just about the most sensory experience one can handle is cooking.  From kneading your own homemade bread to whipping up a decadent dessert, cooking utilizes aroma, taste, touch, and visual delight. When we cook, we are not only being creative but also it’s a form of nurturing that makes people feel good which in turn, means you receive immediate gratification making you feel good.  This gratification can shift your attention away from the worries of life to becoming a recipe for living. 

11. Dancing

Dance classes to improve your skills or just for fun, can be one of the most creative outlets for expressing your personality. Even if you have two “left feet,” no one cares when you hit the dance floor and show off your unique style. Movement through music is one of the best physical activities releasing neurotransmitters and endorphins serving to alleviate stress. Dancing also improves physical health by increasing flexibility, balance and coordination, stronger bones, builds muscle tone, and even leads to better social skills increasing self-confidence and self-esteem. It’s the perfect way for people of all ages, shapes, and sizes to get and stay fit.

Dr. David Samadi is the Director of Men’s Health and Urologic Oncology at St. Francis Hospital in Long Island. He’s a renowned and highly successful board certified Urologic Oncologist Expert and Robotic Surgeon in New York City, regarded as one of the leading prostate surgeons in the U.S., with a vast expertise in prostate cancer treatment and Robotic-Assisted Laparoscopic Prostatectomy.  Visit Dr. Samadi’s websites at robotic oncology and prostate cancer 911.