Hobbies Besides Yoga That Can Help Reduce Stress

by Carina Wolff

Nobody can escape the occasional feeling of stress, but we can definitely find out ways to reduce that annoying nagging feeling of anxiety. In addition to eating well, sleeping, and practicing other self-care, there are also a number of hobbies that can reduce stress, and these extend beyond the stereotypical activities such as yoga and mediation —although those definitely work! If you're looking to incorporate more into your life than just work and your social life, you might want to consider involving yourself in a hobby that is not only enjoyable, but that can help reduce your overall stress levels.

"It's important to have a stress-relieving hobby because there are so many things in our day to day lives that cause stress, and there are so few things in our day to day that actually helps counter that stress," says John Turner, Founder of QuietKit, over email.

A poll by NPR found that a quarter of Americans report having stress in the previous month, and chronic stress can have a slew of negative health effects, including increased risk of heart disease, headaches, trouble sleeping, and more. Finding activities that help reduce your stress can improve both your physical and mental health. To improve your mood and feel a little more relaxed, try incorporating these 11 stress-relieving hobbies into your weekly schedule.

1. Journaling

Multiple studies show that keeping a journal can help reduce stress as well as symptoms of anxiety and depression. Writing down your thoughts helps you clarify your thoughts and emotions and reflect on your feelings, all in a healthy manner. "The advantages of writing is that there are no rules," says Rebecca Lee, registered nurse and founder of "It just provides a creative way to privately express your thoughts and emotions."

2. Gardening

A study from the Journal of Health Psychology found that gardening lowers the stress hormone cortisol and improves positive mood more so than other leisure activities such as reading. "Gardening is grounding, brings you closer to the earth, and allows you to heal yourself by tending to other living things," says acupuncturist and herbalist Michelle Polk over email. "Not to mention it’s cheap and provides you with food, herbs, and beautiful flowers."

3. Listening To Music

Putting on your favorite album can do more than just provide you with some pleasant background music. "Music has a calming effect and can be used as stress-relieving therapy," says Lee. Listening to music for at least 30 minutes a day can lower blood pressure, slow down your heart rate, and decrease stress and anxiety, according to Harvard Health.

4. Reading

Even just six minutes of reading is enough to reduce stress, according to research from the University of Sussex. Reading can help ease tension in the muscle as well as reduce heart rate, making it a healthy hobby to take on when you're feeling overwhelmed.

5. Knitting

It's time to ditch the stereotype that knitting is just for grandmas. The repetitive movement of knitting helps bring people into the moment, much like meditation, according to Psychology Today. This enhances the release of serotonin, the feel-good neurotransmitter that helps you feel calm and positive.

6. Dancing

One might think that dancing is a good form of stress-relief because it requires cardiovascular activity, which can help boost endorphins, but research shows that the de-stressing benefits go beyond just exercise. One Italian found that people who took waltzing classes were happier than participants who just spent time on a bicycle or on the treadmill, according to Psychology Today.

7. Hiking

Feeling stressed out? Take a hike. A study from Stanford University found that taking a walk in nature helps to reduce rumination, that pattern of obsessing over negative thoughts. Previous research also showed that walking outside can improve your mood and decrease anxiety.

8. Coloring

Adult coloring books have been all the rage recently, and for good reason. Many studies show that art therapy is successful at reducing distress, and it can also help with symptoms of anxiety and depression, according to Medical Daily. Using a coloring book elicits a relaxing mindset similar to meditation, as it allows the brain to switch off your thoughts and focus just on what you're doing in the moment.

9. Playing Video Games

No one is saying you should be spending all your time behind the TV or computer, but a quick game or two is a great way to reduce stress. One study from Texas A&M University found that both men and women who play video games are more able to adopt mental skills to handle stress, become less depressed, and get less hostile during stressful tasks.

10. Baking

As if you needed any more reasons to whip up your favorite batch of cookings. Like coloring or knitting, baking is meditative, and a number of people surveyed by the Great Comic Relief Bake Off use baking to alleviate stress.

11. Owning A Pet

Spending time with your pet can be more than just leisure time. Studies show that keeping animals can reduce tension and improve mood, according to WebMD. Having pets can help you have a sense of responsibility and also help with companionship and prevent social isolation.

Everyone has different interests, but trying out something new could help distract you from everyday life and help keep your nerves at bay.

Images: Pixabay (12)