Anxiety and depression are common afflictions affecting many people in the world.
And research shows that those who suffer from one of these mental health problems also tend to suffer the other, meaning they tend to go hand in hand.
Unfortunately, anxiety and depression are complicated mental health illnesses.
And as such, they require a holistic approach to manage them.
This holistic treatment approach includes taking prescribed medications, seeking therapy, and starting a healthy lifestyle.
A holistic healthy lifestyle means eating healthy, sleeping enough, exercising as well as incorporating mindful routines.
And adding relaxing hobbies to a healthy lifestyle while it is not a cure, hobbies are mindful and meditative and that’s why they are a great way to ease anxiety and depression.
In fact, studies show that hobbies improve mental health because they engage your mind so you are no longer focusing on anxious thoughts.
And over time, engaging in a hobby you love centers you and lifts depression as well.
A 2016 study published in the Journal of Positive Psychology found that engaging in creative activities helps one to cultivate positive psychological functioning.
Engaging in a hobby you love helps to fight and purge negative emotions and is great at boosting self-confidence, and quieting repetitive negative thoughts that usually accompany anxiety and depression.
Plus some hobbies also have tremendous physical health benefits as well. Hobbies such as dancing, or yoga improve your physical fitness while also improving your mental health.
So hobbies can help reduce stress, relieve anxiety, boost mood, and improve overall mental health.
Creative hobbies somehow just make you feel brighter and happier.
What are the best hobbies for anxiety and depression?
The best hobbies for people with anxiety and depression include relaxing hobbies such as reading, knitting, playing and listening to music, coloring, painting, writing, and many artistic hobbies such as the ones listed below.
These hobbies get you into this beautiful blissful bubble so you forget worries and anxious thoughts.
You know how you feel when you are so engrossed in an activity you enjoy?
Time just flies by. And you forget your woes and worries for a moment.
You feel positive and happy.
When it comes to hobbies to help fight anxiety and depression, it is good to try a few and see what works for you and helps to calm you down and alleviate dark moods.
And you may even discover that you have such passion and talent in a particular hobby for anxiety and depression and turn it into a source of income.
Imagine that! Making a living doing something you love is an amazing sweet bonus.
And many people do just that turning their hobbies into fun and fulfilling careers.
So, let’s dive right in and discuss some of the best hobbies for people with anxiety and depression that will improve your mental health.
But before we get started on this list, please note that the advice given here is not meant to replace recommendations from your health care professional or your mental health provider. Please also note I am not a certified therapist. This information is gathered from research and my own point of view.
This post contains affiliate links. See the disclosure here.
Best Hobbies for People With Anxiety and Depression
Writing is a great hobby for people with anxiety and or depression.
First of all, writing gives you a creative outlet and a way to express yourself which are great ways to lift your mood.
And the great thing about writing is that it can take so many forms, and all are great for mental health.
Maybe that is why historically so many writers are known to have had mental health problems.
They found solace in the writing and expressed what they couldn’t articulate to society in amazing works of fiction.
Writing is a calming activity.
It is calming to write your thought in a journal for example.
Using journal prompts to write is an easier way to journal and relieves your mind, and keeps your thoughts in perspective.
You can journal in a notebook-just do a brain dump and let all your thoughts out on paper.
Some people swear by bullet journaling, which is awesome and involves creativity and is such a mindful and meditative process, great for mental health.
A great way to focus your writing is to use journal prompts. Here are some journal prompts to get you started.
And you can journal specifically to hit those anxious thoughts head-on so as to reign in your irrational mind.
Try journal prompts for anxiety to calm your mind down and reduce runaway anxious thoughts.
Creative writing can be a great outlet for anyone with anxiety and depression.
Besides you can write not just for fun though fun is great. If you are imaginative and able to write a novel, go for it.
You can write novels and become a proud published author.
Or start a writing business as a freelance writer.
All of these will do your mind great good. When you are in the creative space and caught up in creating you feel energized and focused leaving no room for anxiety.
While this may not heal clinical depression, the moments you are so engrossed in writing you feel less unhappy and less anxious.
I highly recommend writing as a hobby for depression or anxiety management.
Gardening is a healing hobby no matter the state of your mental health. But if you suffer from anxiety and depression, gardening will soothe your soul and invigorate your mind.
Gardening profers so many health benefits to the mind body and soul that it is just a great hobby to start.
Truly even if you don’t have a green thumb, a bit of gardening will improve your anxiety and depression.
There is just something so calming when you commune with nature, and when you actually grow something, nurture it and see it grow.
Here are some more ways in which gardening improves anxiety and depression:
- Bacteria in the soil may actually activate brain cells to produce serotonin when you have your hands in the dirt- the bacterium Mycobacterium vaccae can trigger the brain to produce serotonin, scientists have said.
- Gardening is actually physical work and therefore a form of exercise and a great stress reliever. This invigorating activity helps more blood reach all your cells including brain cells delivering more oxygen, and happiness to neural transmitters. Research has shown that after gardening there is less circulating cortisol and stress levels are down and the mood is better.
- Being outside gardening is a great way to get vitamin D. Vitamin D is one of the most important vitamins ( in fact is it not really a vitamin but a prohormone). Vitamin D is essential in mental health, and a deficiency has been associated with mental illnesses like anxiety and depression, and others. Being outdoors and getting vitamin D directly from the sun improves mood.
- Besides it is now well documented by research that many people especially in temperate climates don’t get enough vitamin D. Also many people spend too much time indoors. This means vitamin D deficiency is very common. Gardening is a simple way to improve your Vitamin D status and mood.
- Gardening occupies the mind as you pull the weeds, prune branches, plant, and admire the beauty around you you’re so engrossed and occupied you have no space for intrusive and random thoughts.
- The bounty from a garden is so satisfying. And it is so enjoyable and fulfilling to watch something you planted grow. Then you also get to enjoy the food you actually grew. It is such a mental health boost and a way to improve your overall health. If you are like me and don’t have a green thumb, try a cactus garden, or learn from someone. A gardening book is a good way to learn at your own pace.
- Gardening feeds your senses so that you are surrounded by wonderful scents of plants and flowers, butterflies, and birds even the very dirt is nourishing to the mind. All that relieves tension and improves your mood.
Are you the kind that enjoys sculpting and working with wood? Sculpting is such a relaxing hobby and a creative art form that can easily help you forget your worries while engaged in this calming hobby.
Oh, the amazing things you can create! From furniture to one-of-a-kind decorative items, let your imagination go.
When you are curving away and using your imagination to create your masterpiece you are in the zen mood.
Sculpting is meditative so it quiets the mind as you concentrate to create that masterpiece.
The creative process of sculpting like so many creative hobbies is therapeutic and that’s why is also one of the best hobbies for mental health.
A great hobby to help one fight worrisome thoughts that can lead to anxiety and depression.
Creating something new from scratch feels great and is a great way to ease your mind and elevate your spirits.
Painting and drawing
All artistic pursuits including painting and drawing are therapeutic and in fact, are as good as talk therapy maybe even better.
As one draws and paints, one can process thoughts and emotions and express them, and this is a cathartic healing process.
Artistic hobbies are some of the best hobbies for mental health.
Many artistic forms including drawing and painting require total focus and really being in the moment and harnessing the power of imagination.
These types of hobbies are enjoyable activities that are perfect ways to improve your mood.
The very activity of painting or drawing gets your mind in a singular focus and leaves no space for anxious thoughts.
And the creative process and the outcome also can elevate mood.
Adult coloring is a fun and relaxing hobby for anxiety and stress relief. If you are like me and can’t draw anything except a stick figure, well how about just coloring?
And to make it even more fun, and mood-boosting, choose adult coloring books with affirmations or good quotes so you feel even more encouraged and brighten your mood as well.
This is a great activity for anyone who suffers from anxiety and or depression.
It removes the worry and boosts one’s mood.
You get to play with colors and enjoy creating something even if you didn’t draw from scratch, you are still creative.
Besides, coloring is great fun, and healthy fun things are good for the mind because they boost and lift one’s mood reducing signs of anxiety and depression.
Coloring like many artistic activities puts one in a calm state of mind and has a meditative quality that reduces stress and anxiety and eases dark moods.
Try adult coloring and enjoy this easy form of meditation.
Try this 100 Amazing Patterns adult coloring book and calm your mind and feel zen by creating some gorgeous patterns.
Image by marcelkessler from Pixabay
Pottery is one of the best hobbies for people with anxiety and or depression.
Can you just see yourself fashioning that clay, smoothing it into just the shape you want? The movements are so soothing and calming.
And Oh, the things you can create if you are into this creative and fun hobby!
From vases to plates, bowls, mug platters, and more, just let your imagination take off.
Pottery is another very zenlike activity.
Besides feeling the clay in your fingers, smoothing it out and shaping your creation is so satisfying. I think pottery making is by far the best hobby for anxiety.
Can you visualize how relaxing it is as you smooth your hands over your creation, as it gently spins and as you shape the pottery?
As you matter of fact when you are shaping and smoothing your hands over the clay you are meditating.
Can you feel how calming that would be?
Then when you are all done you have a beautiful vase, pot, plate or cup, or really anything you want to create.
You also get to decorate your creation with beautiful colors and make a wonderful masterpiece.
The whole process is soothing and calming and healing.
Try pottery as a new hobby you can engage in for anxiety or depression.
If you would love to learn any of these artistic skills, just enroll in a class.
Now it is even easier as you can take all sorts of classes online.
The learning can be so much fun and what a confidence boost!
When your self-esteem is high due to feeling accomplished your mental health improves too.
This is my one zone of genius. Well to an extent. One cant be good at everything now, can they?
But I do ENJOY knitting and crocheting A LOT and knitting is so calming and really relaxing. I think it is such a good hobby for someone with anxiety because it takes your mind off of worries while you knit.
I love knitting because it has this mindful quality to it and therefore I find it so calming.
As long as my hands are moving to the rhythm of the needles, I am in zen and my spirit is calm.
Knitting and crocheting are easy to learn and not too expensive either.
While you are caught up in this art form it relaxes your mind and distracts you from unwanted thoughts.
I think if you know how to do it this is a great hobby for anyone especially anyone whose mind tends to focus on worrying thoughts.
Now you can take it further and spin the yarn to boost your mood even more.
Spinning the wool is so meditative and will transport you into a zen meditative state that will leave you feeling calm and happier.
If you would love to learn how to knit, here is a great video for absolute beginners.
Another craft that I am first to admit I know nothing of is quilting. But oh, boy, the amazing art that is quilting! I have seen some really amazing quilts.
It is a mind-boggling art form and those into quitting are totally committed to it which is great for mental health.
I envy anyone who knows how to quilt because they make beautiful art and I don’t think I can do it.
Unfortunately, I don’t have the discipline quilting requires.
But it is an amazing art form and so engaging.
Totally recommend it if you have the brain cells to do the math quilting is a mood-boosting art so totally engrossing leaving no room for runaway thoughts.
Photography is one of the most wonderful hobbies for mental health.
It allows you to capture the beauty of any moment and is a great way to explore your world.
Going outdoors and exploring nature through the lens of a camera allows you to get out of your head and concentrate on the various wonders of nature.
Even just taking pictures of other people allows you to capture their happy emotions and that can help you feel better too.
You can combine photography with other mindful activities like hiking and reap the benefits of exercise, enjoying captivating nature, and capturing it on film to enjoy later.
Talking about it is making me want to learn professional photography.
It is never too late to learn a new skill.
So get out of the house and get your camera out and go exploring. While so engrossed, those intrusive thoughts will be long gone and your mind will be at ease.
Do you like to read for fun? Reading is another amazing hobby for anxiety and stress relief as well as a great hobby for helping with depression.
A 2009 study found that reading was as effective as yoga or humor in relieving stress making it a great hobby for mental health.
Reading takes you off and away to other places and times and you meet people and different problems that take your mind off your own issues.
While you are reading, your mind relaxes. Even your heart rate drops meaning you feel calm.
Some books are so funny that you can be laughing out loud, and what better way to lift your mood?
Reading informs, educates, entertains, and takes us to faraway places we may never have experienced.
It educates us, informs us, and challenges our way of thinking.
When you are engrossed in a storyline, your mind has no space left to be anxious worrisome, or even moodiness, or even boredom.
If you are a reader you likely have some great authors you love, but like many readers, you are always eager to discover more.
See this list of books to read that will improve your life.
Now if you are like me and want to read some light fun laugh-out-out-loud books, here are my top recommendations. Yes, humor is still the best medicine, especially when it comes to anxiety and depression.
I love love Helen Finding’s The Diary of Bridget Jones.
If you want a good laugh The Diary of Bridget Jones will get a good old belly laugh, the kind that leaves of feeling happy and relaxed.
And if you find you love that book, then you will want the sequel, Bridget Jones the Edge of Reason. Both are quite hilarious light readings that will take your mind off things.
And here is one more light reading recommendation to boost your mood.
Angela Terry’s Charming Falls Apart is a well-crafted coming-of-age story that is wise yet fun to read.
I am sure you can find a few more books that will lift your mood and improve your mental health. A trip to the library or the bookstore will provide several books to engage your fancy.
Cooking is a creative activity that really engages one’s mind and is an awesome hobby for mental health.
If you like to cook or want to learn, cooking can help you forget about the worries you have.
The joy of creating a wonderful meal, especially when shared with others fills one with happiness.
When you are preparing a meal you are also caught up in that moment of creating and it is quite calming, enjoyable, and a mood booster.
And making and eating healthy meals is one way to ensure you are feeding your brain the nutrients necessary for brain health.
Cooking will benefit your mood and mental health both in good nutrition and as a form of meditative therapy making cooking a great hobby for anxiety and to improve depression.
Research is showing that there are some nutrients that when deficient can cause mental health problems and cooking and eating healthy meals will prevent deficiency.
Check out these related posts on mental health and nutrition.:
10 Common Nutrient Deficiencies That cause fatigue
The Best Soothing Teas That Calm Anxiety and Reduce Stress Naturally
20 Powerful Superfoods for BrainHealth
Depression Nutrition: Food that Improves Mood and Mental Health
So get that inner chef out and harness the powers of cooking as a creative hobby that is good for your mood and total health.
Learn new recipes. Go on Pinterest and get inspired and pin the ones you like.
Besides cooking is a great skill to have.
It will boost your confidence, save you money because then you can eat at home more, and you know just what is in your food and you can create meals that are rich in nutrients to benefit your overall health.
Creating and playing music
This is one thing I have always wanted to learn. Playing the guitar or the piano or any music really is good for your mental health. So go ahead and enroll in a class if you are clueless.
Research has found that playing, listening to, or creating music is healing which is referred to as music therapy.
Music eases and calms the mind and reduces anxiety.
Furthermore, music also improves cognition research finds.
Music stimulates the mind and can actually improve the way the brain functions.
And the act of playing an instrument involves your mind and your creativity and you can be lost for hours in a blissful cloud of creativity.
This is a great way to lift your mood, bring on endorphins, ease your mind, and keep you calm.
If you are talented and can write music that is awesome too.
Like any type of writing, it helps you put thoughts on paper and out of your mind. It gives you cathartic relief and is healing.
You also then get to play the music you created.
This involves your mind so much that you won’t be focusing on scattered thoughts and feeling on edge.
Music also lifts your mood. So you can see why music is one of the most beneficial hobbies for anxiety and depression.
Being an outdoorsman or woman is exhilarating. You can go on hikes, camping, fishing, picnicking, and just explore the outdoor places close or far.
Hiking is a great form of exercise, and exercise is great for mental health.
There is no way you can have a down mood when you are busy exploring the trails.
But, I’ve got to just say that this may not be for everyone. Personally camping is not for me. Too worried about snakes bears and other scary creatures.
However, the very act of walking, as in hiking, provides great exercise and is exhilarating. It is a great stress reliever.
You feel happy standing at the top of that hill or mountain. Not only do you feel like such an achiever you also get great exercise.
That is why some people are addicted to exercise- because it gives you such a thrilling high.
The best addiction, I think.
Picture yourself standing at the top of the mountain looking at the wonder all around, or walking by a brook somewhere.
And maybe enjoying a picnic under a gorgeous tree.
Hiking is an amazing way to relieve stress and feel great in mind and body.
Try being outdoors more and you will find that this will bring more peace to your mind. It will soothe the nerves and lift your mood.
I love blogging. First of all, blogging can be such a rewarding creative pursuit.
There is so much involved in blogging that while you are engrossed in the writing process your mind has no time for intrusive thoughts. you have planning to do it. Keyword research.
Finding the right angle for a post. It is to me all such a thrill.
Also, you can help others by sharing what you know. That boosts your confidence and mental health as well.
Blogging has a lot of elements that require a certain amount of focus and discipline but is so fulfilling.
When you succeed as a blogger the reward is immense- both monetary and the sense of accomplishment that is bound to make you feel proud of yourself.
Now blogging is hard and one has to be careful to find balance. Without that balance, it can be frustrating. So go into it with an open mind and be sure to take breaks.
I do so enjoy the creative process involved in writing a post, creating graphics, engaging with other bloggers online, and so many other elements of blogging.
These creative pursuits so fully occupy the mind so that I have a singular focus and it takes my mind off other thoughts that would otherwise have my mind racing.
Try blogging as a creative pursuit and see if it is a good fit for you.
You might actually be able to quit that anxiety-invoking job or that job that sinks your mood come Monday. That at least is my goal.
Get your dancing shoes on. Ok, bare feet will do too! Yes! Just dance. Dancing is a great hobby for anxiety and depression and an amazing way to reduce stress levels.
Not a good dancer? Dance anyone. This is for you. Dance like no one is watching. Who cares if they are?
But if you want to take it up a notch, take a dancing class.
And if you have a partner you can both enroll in a class and learn a new skill.
This is such a confidence booster that also makes you feel better about yourself.
Really, confident people feel better about themselves and struggle less with mental health issues.
When you dance you are exercising and this is an amazing way to release endorphins, your feel-good neurotransmitters.
That is why dancing is so exhilarating. So turn your favorite dance music on and dance. Just dance.
By the end of your dancing session, your mood will be high and the stress will be gone.
No space for anxiety when you are enjoying a dancing session.
Dancing too is a form of therapy and you don’t have to talk to anyone.
You just let all the feelings out in the movement and enjoy the feeling as the endorphins lift away your worries.
After a dancing session, you will feel light and happy.
Best therapy ever to improve anxiety and depression.
And there you have it! These are among the best hobbies for anxiety and depression.
I hope you choose a few from this list to try. Maybe you already practice some of these hobbies.
Do you find that some hobbies really help anxiety and depression and thus are great for mental health?
What do you enjoy doing to soothe and calm your mind and lift your spirits?
I hope you will give these hobbies for anxiety and depression a try.
Just choose one new one and try it for a while.
You may really like a hobby and in turn, the hobby can help you calm anxiety, and decrease episodes of anxiety and depression.
Hobbies for anxiety and depression