“You have zero chill. You need a hobby.”
If you’ve heard this before (or some variation thereof), you’re in the right place.
Everyone needs stress-relieving hobbies to counterbalance the anxieties of work and life.
That said, what’s calming for one person can be nerve-wracking or dull to someone else.
In the list below, we describe 21 hobbies that are good for anxiety.
Some will stand out for you (in a good way) more than others.
There’s a reason.
21 Relaxing Hobbies to Help You Chill
Look through the following list of calming activities for adults and make your own shorter list of the ones that appeal to you most. Then choose one to start this week.
Just the thought of curling up in a comfy chair with a book is enough (for many of us) to elicit a deep sigh of contented relief, especially when that book is a favorite or one you bought recently and are keen to start.
If your eyes need a break, listening to an audiobook totally counts.
2. Writing / Journaling
Whether you prefer creative writing or journaling, putting your thoughts and ideas into written words can be both cathartic and calming.
Give yourself that outlet to work through something or take a story or character idea and take the time to flesh it out.
Jotting out a list of things that are on your mind is a great start.
3. Learning a New Language
You can sign up for a language course (local or online) or download an app like Duolingo, Babbel, or Memrise. Spend some time with it every day to build a streak and learn new words and phrases. Share your progress with others to create accountability.
Before long, you might be planning a trip to put your learning into practice.
4. Knitting or Crocheting
Ever wanted to surprise your friends and family with hand-knitted or hand-crocheted hats, scarves, and blankets?
This is an easy hobby to learn, and you spend only as much time on it as you have. Plus, you have an excuse to try some fun, new yarns.
Think of the gifting possibilities! And don’t forget to make something good for yourself.
5. Embroidery & Cross Stitch
Maybe a gift of an embroidered handkerchief from someone you admire has got you thinking of picking up that hobby yourself. Or perhaps you’ve seen cross-stitch wall art and want to create some of your own. So many possibilities!
Start with something that excites you and is beginner-friendly.
6. DIY Projects
Ever wanted to build your own bookcase or coffee table? Or maybe you’ve admired someone’s hand-carved chess pieces and want to make your own. Whatever crafty DIY skills you’re eager to learn, there’s a way to learn them.
The tricky part might be deciding on what to make first.
7. Baking or Cooking
The art of making food isn’t everyone’s favorite thing, but it might be calling your name. If you’ve always wanted to learn how to make your favorite meals or baked treats, you can take a class or learn by trial and error with online videos.
Start with what you know and build on it.
8. Drawing or Painting
Whether you’re new to this or you’ve enjoyed drawing or painting in the past, both provide outlets for your ideas — or a way to capture images you love.
Take a class or learn from online videos to develop your skills, whether you’re drawn to animation, abstract art, or creating keepsake portraits. Let your gut lead on this one.
9. Going on Walks / Hiking
Weather permitting, one of the best ways to refresh your mind and body is by getting outside and going for a walk. For best results, choose a safe path that gives you at least some exposure to the natural world.
As often as you like (and are able), stop for a refreshing drink on the way back.
If you have access to a pool and love swimming, take advantage of the opportunity to use it regularly. If swim times are limited, sign up for the best available weekly time slots, and commit to showing up for some relaxing self-care.
Celebrate your new hobby with a swimsuit you love.
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If you have boxes of loose photos just waiting to be sorted, scrapbooking can help you create keepsake albums you’ll be proud to show off. Anyone can slip photos into plastic sleeves, but scrapbooks are a work of art and a labor of love.
Create something that makes the most of your favorite photographed memories.
Whether you choose outdoor gardening or you’re limited to a few containers on your balcony — or an herb garden in your kitchen window — gardening gives you a chance to grow veggies, fruits, herbs, or flowers to harvest, enjoy, and share with others.
You can start small with a few container plants and add more as your confidence grows.
You have plenty to choose from, whether you prefer jigsaw puzzles, Sudoku puzzles, crosswords, or something else. Set aside some regular “puzzle time” to refresh your mind and keep it sharp. Maybe pick up a new puzzle (or puzzle book) to mix it up a bit.
14. Making Music
Learn to make music of your own, either with your voice or with a musical instrument — one you’re familiar with or one you’ve always wanted to try. Find a local instructor or learn from online videos and make time for daily or weekly practice.
You can also create playlists with your favorite music and share them with others.
15. Video Games
Try a new video game that interests you, or reacquaint yourself with a favorite you haven’t played in years. Play alone or with a gaming partner. The important thing is to enjoy it.
If playing makes you more tense and anxious than before you started, try a less high-stakes game or set this hobby aside in favor of something more relaxing.
Whether you’re planning on training for a marathon or you just want to add an exercise mini-habit to your daily routine, this hobby will benefit you in more ways than one.
Start with something you already enjoy or try something new that interests you, whether that’s yoga, biking, dance, or learning a martial art like Judo or Jiu-Jitsu for self-defense.
Start a new collection or add to one you already have. Or, if you inherit a collection that interests you, consider adding to it with your own unique finds.
A quick internet search can get you started on your search for specific items or sets, as well as information on the best sources for quality collectibles.
18. Tidying and Organizing
Yes, this can be a hobby. And the work can be as restorative as the results.
Whether you like Marie Kondo’s approach (keeping what sparks joy) or have another in mind, purging your space of all that doesn’t need to be there is a life-changing and necessary first step.
Blogging can be fun. And whether you stick with a free blog or invest some money in web-hosting, having an active online presence makes it easier to share news, artwork, stories, life hacks, or whatever you’d like to put out into the world.
You can even limit its exposure to a select few by making it password-protected.
With the variety of adult coloring books out there right now, it’d be a shame to never even try one, especially since it gives you a great excuse to pick up a set of dual tip brush pens — in as many colors as you like.
Who knows? You might even be tempted to frame some of your finished pages.
21. Watching Documentaries
YouTube is a goldmine of quality documentaries catering to a variety of interests. Add some scientific or historical documentaries to your weekly viewing list for your continuing education and enjoyment. Watch alone or with an equally curious companion.
Now that you’ve looked through the whole list of 21 calming hobbies, which ones stood out for you? And which will you try first?