How Hobbies Help Anxiety

 7th Apr 2017

If you suffer from anxiety you’ll know that an attack can come at any time for seemingly no reason at all.

Triggers vary from person to person and the severity of the attack can be just as hard to pin down.

It also gets worse with stress.

It’s exhausting.

It’s rare that an individual can overcome their anxiety issues completely. The very nature of trying can create a paradoxical self-perpetuating cycle of anxiety.

Managing the anxiety, however, is an ongoing yet effective means of living a normal and happy life and hobbies and past times can really assist with this.

But why?

Hobbies are Relaxing

It shouldn’t come as a surprise that hobbies (barring extreme sports and the like) are relaxing because they are something you find enjoyable, indulging them naturally causes your body to relax.

However, not all hobbies are as relaxing as others.

Whilst video gaming may be fun, it isn’t necessarily relaxing as game play can be intense. Particularly with modern shooters like the Battlefield series.

Reading a book is 600% more relaxing than playing video games. We’re not saying don’t play video games, but to better manage anxiety and to facilitate relaxation, moderating it with other activities is wise.

Reading and Anxiety

Reading works because of the way it affects the human brain. We enter a near meditative state when we read, giving our brain a thorough work out. We emerge significantly more relaxed than when we began.

Creative hobbies such as painting, drawing, model making or pottery are especially effective means of relaxation. Much like reading, they tap in different parts of the brain, giving us an outlet for our creativity.

Hobbies are Sociable

Hobbies are actually a great way to meet people and build friendships. Social situations can often cause anxieties to flare, making it hard for those with challenges to meet new people or interact in social settings.

However, an event centred on your hobby gives you a group of people all passionate about the same thing.

This gives you a near limitless supply of ice breakers.

Even the more solitary hobbies, like reading or painting have a social aspect to them like a book club or a painting class.

Thanks to social media you can share your work or your views on forums, Instagram or other platforms and get feedback.

We would add a note of caution here to say social media can attract some pretty unpleasant characters that delight in putting others down for sport. Don’t take these people to heart and block them where you can.

Hobbies are Progressive

Whether you enjoy hiking, building and painting scale miniatures, kayaking on the open seas or sculpting, the more you do it the better you get.

It’s not hard to see the correlation between enjoyment and ability so the more you practise your hobby, the more you’ll get out of it. This will make you more relaxed and contribute to your overall sense of wellbeing.

Painting and Anxiety

As your hobby grows from a past time into a passion and as your skills and knowledge grow you will become more confident and that confidence will start to bleed into other aspects of your life.

It will also give you license to share your passions with other likeminded people, enhancing friendships or creating new ones.

Hobbies help you build something that is uniquely yours – even if you are part of a community or have to follow a prescribed method – that you can enjoy whenever you choose and whenever you need to relax.

Trying to control the uncontrollable will feed the anxiety. Managing through self-compassion is not only beneficial to your sense of self but can help you in other ways too.

At Encompass we are committed to supporting people with enduring mental health issues. If you or someone you care about is in need of ongoing support, we can help.

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