While the world is struggling to mitigate the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic, many of us are struggling to control the personal anxiety we might be feeling about the situation. The uncertainty surrounding health, job security, finances, and more is enough to leave any of us feeling a little anxious.
Being quarantined can feel very limiting (and in a lot of ways, it really is). That can exacerbate anxiety for a lot of people, especially those who use away-from-home activities as a way to relax.
The good news, however, is that there are plenty of relaxing hobbies you can try while quarantined at home that can help you lower your stress levels. While I’m not suggesting that these hobbies will “cure” your anxiety (especially if you struggle with an anxiety disorder), these are hobby suggestions that could potentially help calm your nerves while keeping you busy during quarantine.
(Side note: if you do struggle with severe anxiety and/or an anxiety disorder, make sure you are working with your doctor and/or therapist to find the right solution for your particular needs. Remember: you are not alone.)
Relaxing hobbies to lower stress during quarantine
Getting in touch with your artistic side can be a great stress reliever. You’re creating, you’re using your hands, you’re stimulating your senses, and you’re keeping your mind occupied (i.e. off all the stressful news). One recent study found that even 45 minutes of making art noticeably lowered levels of cortisol (the stress hormone) in participants.
You don’t have to become a full-blown artist for this hobby to work for you. Here are some activities that would fall under this category:
- Coloring (relaxes the fear center of the brain; quiets the mind)
- Drawing (look up a YouTube channel that meets your interests and skill level; I promise there’s one out there)
- Painting (watercolors, oils, etc. YouTube would be a great source for this as well)
- Hand-lettering (find an online class or some printable worksheets, and start practicing)
Long considered to be the most relaxing form of exercise, yoga has become mainstream over the past decade, downward-dogging its way into the hearts of people looking to boost their strength, flexibility, and mindfulness.
There’s a few things about yoga that make it a great choice for a relaxing hobby to lower stress during quarantine. First of all, it’s a form of exercise, which can be tough to keep up with while quarantined. There are also plenty of different kinds of yoga, meaning you can find exactly what you’re looking for, whether it’s strength training or relaxation. And with low barriers to entry (you really just need some open space, some stretchy clothes, and maybe a towel) and plenty of videos available for free on YouTube, this hobby is a win all around.
(There’s even a great YouTube channel for yoga for kids, to keep your little ones busy while you’re enjoying your own workout)
Journaling has long been touted as a way to help with mental health challenges, and it couldn’t be easier to get started. If you have a computer, or a notebook and pen, you’ve got a journal. Taking a few minutes a day to express your thoughts and feelings can be hugely helpful as you’re fighting feelings of anxiety. (And if you’re having trouble finding inspiration, a gratitude journal is a great place to start!)
Creative writing can also help with negative feelings, giving you a creative, expressive outlet. And creative writing can also provide a chance to escape the real world (in a healthy, creative way), as well as an opportunity for reflection and introspection.
High school reading assignments may have increased your anxiety (was anyone else forced to read Moby Dick?) but reading can actually be a very calming activity, if you do it right. Reading lowers your heart rate and decreases tension in the body, resulting in lowered stress.
When it comes to reading, don’t pressure yourself. There’s no “right” or “wrong” way to read. You can read what you want, as much as you want, for as long as you want. If that means you want to read mass market romance novels, great. If a thought-provoking read on human psychology is more up your alley, go for it. The key is to find something that helps your mind focus on the book in front of you, rather than on the world around you. Find what works for you, and read!
Mentally engaging, low-stakes, and quiet—what more could you ask for in a relaxing hobby? While it might not be wise to pull out that 3000-piece puzzle you have, especially if you’re not already an avid puzzler, simple 750-1000 piece puzzles will occupy your mind for a few hours and can definitely help you relax.
If you have the space and materials (or can get them while practicing safe social distancing), gardening can be a very relaxing and calming hobby. The planning, the preparation, and the execution, not to mention the very tangible results, make this hobby as rewarding as it is time-consuming. It also gets you outside, an added benefit when it comes to mental health.
One note about this hobby: make sure you choose plants that are compatible with your climate at the time of planting. As rewarding as gardening can be, it could also be extremely frustrating if you put a lot of work into something that turns out to be fruitless.
There’s a reason knitting has a reputation as the “stuck-at-home” hobby. It allows you to use your hands, encourages creativity, and leaves you with something tangible that you made (always a good feeling). With repetitive movements and endless possibilities, knitting is an inexpensive, relaxing hobby with a low learning curve.
Become an expert
Is there a subject you’ve always wanted to know more about? A major war, a certain country, a specific historical figure? Doing focused research on one particular subject can be a great, educational way to relax while at home. Use books, articles, and documentaries to do your research, and you’ll come out of quarantine as a studied expert on the topic of your choice.
Learn a language
Still in the educational vein, your time in quarantine could offer the perfect opportunity to learn or brush up on a foreign language. Use podcasts, YouTube videos, or apps (like Duolingo) to help you expand your linguistic horizons. However, remember: this is a low-stakes activity that’s supposed to be relaxing. If you find yourself getting stressed out or discouraged at your slow progress, it might be time to move on to a less demanding hobby.
You know those people that can just rattle off names of songs and bands like it’s their job? Ever wanted to be one of those people? Time in quarantine could allow you to go from a casual music listener to a true music enthusiast. Plus, music has been shown to have a real, positive impact on stress and anxiety. And singing along can provide an instant tension release and/or mood boost.
(Want a little help creating your ultimate happiness playlist? There’s a post for that.)
While this might not work for someone in a busy metropolitan area, if you have a good view of the night sky, stargazing can be incredibly relaxing. Whether you keep it to stargazing or further explore the deep depths of astronomy, there’s plenty within this hobby to keep you busy and curious.
Okay, so that word itself might be enough to make you feel a little anxiety, but hear me out. There may not ever be another time when the pace of the world slows down this much, and when social pressure is so low. With our activities and our contact with other people limited, what better time could there be to look inside yourself, ask yourself the deep, important questions, and make sure you’re living the life you want to live?
Start with questions like:
- What are my values? Am I living my life in line with them?
- Which relationships in my life do I value most?
- Do I show my priorities by how I spend my time?
- What big things do I want to accomplish in my life?
- What is holding me back from living the life I want to live?
These aren’t always easy questions to face, but it’s important to know yourself if you’re ever going to improve yourself.
Design.org is all about helping you envision the future you want, and then help you draw backwards, connecting the dots from where you want to go to where you are now. Our free, personalized coaching program is tailored to your unique needs and goals, and uses our unique framework to help you move from hope to meaning in your life. Start with our assessment; it’s quick, easy, and will get you headed in the right direction.
Quarantine can be a stressful time, even if you and your family stay healthy. Fight back against that stress with relaxing hobbies that will lower your stress during quarantine. Remember that you are in charge of your thoughts, regardless of your circumstances. You can create a reality that serves you. I know you can.
Start free coaching with Design.org today!
Take our assessment and discover what our free, personalized coaching can help you achieve—even while in quarantine. We’re here to help, every step of the way.