By Darcy Schild
Baking bread from scratch or learning calligraphy may sound like simply fun pastimes — but they could also be relaxing and helpful, especially for people looking to relieve stress or feelings of occasional anxiety.
According to a 2016 study from the Journal of Positive Psychology, people who spent time on a creative activity every day had overall increased feelings of positive psychological well-being, compared with those who didn’t partake in daily creative rituals.
Whether it’s devoting time to practice yoga or picking up a new art skill, there are plenty of positive ways to take a break, de-stress, and potentially relieve feelings of anxiousness.
It’s important to note that occasional feelings of anxiety are not necessarily correlated with clinically diagnosed anxiety disorders recognized by the National Institute of Mental Health. As such, hobbies that may help manage occasional feelings of stress or anxiousness are not necessarily medical recommendations for coping with anxiety disorders.
Consider incorporating yoga into your routine.
Practicing yoga can yield physical results like improved posture and toned muscles, but the ancient mind-body exercise can also have a plethora of potential mental and emotional benefits — such as reduced stress and the ability to manage feelings of anxiety, according to the Mayo Clinic.
Yoga can also help people sleep better and cope with symptoms of anxiety caused by difficult life situations, according to the National Institutes of Health.
Beginners can experiment with different styles of yoga — such as Vinyasa yoga, which is focused on coordinating movements with breath work and is tailored for people of all levels; and power yoga, which typically involves more challenging poses.
Plus, there are several ways to practice yoga for free at home and with minimal equipment. YouTube channels like Yoga With Adrienne and POPSUGAR Fitness have plenty of free, guided videos with routines that last 15 minutes and longer practices that span more than an hour.
Spend time baking or cooking something you’ve been meaning to try.
There’s something about gathering ingredients, spending time in the kitchen, and creating an edible masterpiece that, even if it’s not perfect, makes baking a comforting and preferred activity for many.
People in search of baking inspiration could craft a loaf of bread from scratch (even without sourdough starter), make a banana bread recipe from Joanna Gaines, or attempt recreating a Disney treat at home, like Mickey Mouse-shaped beignets or vegan cookie dough fries.
Grow flowers, herbs, vegetables, or simply add greenery to your living space.
According to plant company The Sill, you don’t have to have a spacious outdoor gardening space to reap the rewards of being around greenery. For example, indoor plants are said to help absorb toxins in the air.
Even building a DIY terrarium can be an easy way to incorporate greenery into a small living space.
For coffee enthusiasts, consider trying a slow, detailed method — like making dalgona coffee, homemade cold brew, or using a French press.
The drink rose to popularity on video-sharing platform TikTok and became the most popular coffee beverage of the spring. It requires instant coffee, sugar, hot water, and milk, plus some heavy whisking or the use of a hand-mixer.
Insider’s lifestyle reporter, Anneta Konstantinides, tried the frothy drink for herself and found that while it certainly requires some effort, dalgona coffee is a tasty treat, and the involved process could be enjoyable and relaxing for some people to devote time to in the morning or for an afternoon pick-me-up.
If dalgona coffee isn’t your speed, though, other methods of coffee-making might make for calming rituals — like making homemade cold brew, or ditching the Keurig machine for a cup of French press coffee, which requires patience and a slower process than the traditional instant cup of joe.
Unwind by experimenting with calligraphy or modern hand-lettering.
Get inspiration from YouTube creator, artist, and craft supply designer Amy Tangerine, whose tutorials show how to practice hand-lettering with colorful markers, pens, and even watercolors.
For a more traditional route, try learning how to write with a calligraphy pen and ink.
Use your newfound handwriting chops by writing a note to a friend, in a journal, or while taking notes for school or work — or just for fun.
Even coloring, as simple of an activity as it sounds, is said to have some mental health benefits.
Spending time filling up a coloring book full of intricate designs can be a fun distraction — but it also has the potential to yield some mental health benefits, according to a 2017 study from the Creativity Research Journal.
Researchers who conducted the study found that participants who took part in coloring activities daily showed “significantly lower levels of depressive symptoms and anxiety after the intervention” compared with control participants, who did not show the same outcomes.
The study concluded that “daily coloring can improve some negative psychological outcomes.”
Taking up a sewing technique like embroidery can be a soothing, creative outlet.
The process of hand-embroidering fabric to create intricate designs may be a fun hobby for people in search of an involved but creative activity.
YouTube creator Chloe Wen details all the steps and supplies needed for beginners to start their journey into embroidering.
Candle-making can be relaxing, fragrant, and result in a new piece of home decor.
Crafting enthusiasts can try making their own candle by upcycling a clean, empty glass jar and following tutorials that require minimal supplies — including a wick, wax, wooden sticks, hot water, and essential oils, most of which could be found at craft supply stores or online.
Some brands also sell their own candle-making kits that come with all the necessary items.
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