I've tried to narrow down a few activities which can reduce anxiety both in the short term and long term for every personality and budget. Some of these activities can be available while you are on the move and are handy to keep close when anxiety strikes and you need a quick distraction; others are more long-term hobbies that can build your confidence and overall well-being. Is there a couple in there to suit you?
Creative hobbies are some of the best you can try if you are struggling with anxiety. You might not think you are that artistic or crafty, but it’s not about being the best or creating masterpieces it’s about doing something that requires keeping your mind and your body occupied on a single task.
By engaging your imagination and using your body physically, anxiety doesn’t have a chance to creep in.
Drawing is wonderful if you need something on the go. You can carry around a plain notepad and a pencil and just start drawing what is around you in moments of anxiety. At other times you might want to sit down at home and really have a good couple of hours just sketching away.
· Endless inspiration and opportunity (still life is all around!)
· Long process to keep you engaged for longer
· Creating something for your home or to gift a loved one
· Cheap to buy basic supplies
· Available in most supermarkets
Writing isn't going to be for everyone but sometimes it depends on you and what you need to get down. You might feel you want to journal or make notes on how you are feeling or you might want to really push your imagination and start creating a book or memoir.
· Several different types of writing (journaling, novel writing, blog writing)
· Can be picked up and put down
· Transferable to any media (paper, phone, laptop)
· Travel friendly
Crafting + Sewing ££-£££
Crafting is more of a lifestyle than a hobby for some. It does require some time and commitment, but once you find something that works for you it will never leave and you'll find enjoyment in every project.
Keeps your hands busy
Buy guided kits or starter packs for beginners
Create something you can save or gift
Lots of variations such as knitting, sewing, quilting, colleges, etc...
Long-term hobby with plenty to keep you occupied
Join clubs or socials with other enthusiasts
Relaxation hobbies are things you can do to encourage overall well-being in your life while still learning something new. You can actively use these hobbies to calm yourself down in moments of panic or high stress.
Meditation can be difficult to master at times. It's not just sitting alone quietly. You can enroll in courses or self-teach guided meditations online but it really is a skill to learn and something that's not always easy to keep up. Once you learn how to meditate you can put it into practice at any time.
Take time for yourself
You can do it anywhere (except driving!)
No equipment needed
2 Minute meditations can fit into your day
Online resources and apps available as guides
Yoga has become very trendy in recent years and that's for good reason. Not only does yoga increase your flexibility and overall fitness it also helps you learn important breathing techniques you can refer back to when you feel anxious. When practicing yoga as a beginner it is always useful to join a class so you don't injure yourself or push your body too far initially.
Increases fitness and health
Socialising (if in a class environment)
Practice from home using free apps or youtube
Fits around your lifestyle
Colouring-in might seem like a child's thing but in recent years we've learned the incredible benefits of this focused activity for all ages. There are more comprehensive colouring books on the market for adults and they are great when you need something to keep your hands busy and mind soothed while traveling.
Keeps your brain and hands occupied
Relaxes you with a single focus
Improves your concentration level
Loads of variety to choose from
Easy carry around with you
Great for travel on long journeys such as planes or trains
I'm not one for lego myself but all I've heard about it is how amazing it is and rewarding when you finish a complicated piece. Lego has just brought out a brand new range and you can choose your complexity level depending on how much time you have. Lego is after all a puzzle, but brain games such as sudoku can also be really beneficial for keeping your brain healthy, challenged and anxiety free.
Keeps your brain and hands occupied
Improves short-term memory
Problem-solving and decision making
Releases dopamine, improving overall mood
For adults and kids
Create something you can keep and enjoy after completion
Puzzle Apps and brain games are freely available on apps and online
Reading is one of history's greatest pastimes. If you aren't into fiction you could choose biographies or comic books, there is plenty out there to suit everyone! Reading gives your imagination a workout and keeps you tied in, not leaving room for any anxiety!
Uses your imagination
Helps you focus
Single task concentration increases relaxation
Plenty of variety and choice
Free library cards for rentals
Kindles or reading devices mean you can travel easily with your book
How often are we all told that physical exercise helps reduce anxiety? Because its true! but what is also important is the type of exercise you do; you're more likely to continue with physical exercise if you enjoy it so finding something perfect for you is just as important as doing it. I like to stay engaged during exercise and feel like I'm learning something new at the same time.
Running is a go-to exercise for a lot of us, not only because it is free and doesn't mean buying a lot of equipment but because it's soothing. Coming from someone who couldn't even run down the street 2 years ago; after completing the NHS Couch the 5K, I can honestly say I've had days where I've really looked forward to a run!
Physical exercise benefits
No equipment required
Creates self-help time in your schedule
Martial Arts ££-£££
Martial art is a favourite hobby of mine. It releases any pent-up anger and raises your confidence and self-awareness. Any exercise for which you can learn will always pre-occupy your brain away from negative and anxious thoughts, but by releasing some emotion in the process you leave feeling a sense of relief.
Helps you build a support network
Keep fit while learning a skill
Improves social skills
Plenty of variations (Karate, Krav Maga, Ninjutsu, etc...)
Who doesn't love a good boogie? You may not think you're a dancer, but everyone is! This is an activity that can be done anytime, anywhere. You might have a partner or wait until you are alone, but pairing with some of your favourite tracks can lift your mood, release those endorphins and keep that negativity away!
Can be done anywhere at any time
Releases endorphins which make you happier
Pairs with music (another anxiety-reducing activity)
Keeps you fit
Completely free if not in a group class
Group Classes ££-£££
This type of exercise might seem quite scary to anyone who suffers from a form of social anxiety or agoraphobia, but there is a lot to be said about getting out of your comfort zone. In group classes not only are you pushed to work harder but you might form new friendships with people who have similar interests.
Increases social interaction
Builds a support network
It pushes you out of your comfort zone, physically and mentally
Learn a new skill