Beat Depression

Finding Your Center: 5 Hobbies That Can Help You Overcome Depression and Anxiety

unconventional-ways-reduce-stressAnxiety disorders are the most common mental illness in the United States. Approximately half of all individuals diagnosed with anxiety will also be diagnosed with depression, and vice versa.

If you have been diagnosed with depression or an anxiety disorder, involving yourself in a hobby can be an effective supplement to the treatment plan created by your mental health care provider. Here are five kinds of hobbies that can be effective in fighting anxiety and depression.


1. Improve Your Health

Depression and anxiety can make you lose motivation, often with the side effect of suffering health. Start improving your health through small goals, like getting more sunshine.

Exercise releases endorphins—forcing yourself to be active will give your body the tools to fight your depression. Individuals with lower levels of vitamin D are more likely to have depression—go out into the sunshine for a short time every day (yes, you do actually need to go outside: vitamin D can’t be gleaned through glass) to boost your body’s defense.

It may seem impossible to get out of the bed and out the door, but the more you do it, the easier it will become. Remind yourself of your goals by posting them in high-traffic areas of your house (the bathroom mirror, the front of the fridge, and the inside of the front door) to help keep yourself motivated.

These hobbies include:

  • Going for a walk once a week in your neighborhood.
  • Researching, planning, and implementing a new diet.
  • Following along with an electronic exercise program several times a week.
  • Taking the trash out to the curb.
  • Jogging in the morning before work.

2. Take Care of Living Things

Depression and anxiety may make you feel unimportant, or even worthless. You may feel that what you do has no positive impact on the world around you. To counteract this negative thought process, one thing you can do is reach out with the intent to affect living things around you.

This can be as simple as gardening in your own backyard: planting flowers or vegetables, mowing your lawn, or pruning your trees. If you become more invested in the project of your own home garden, you may choose to consult with a specialist to help you keep your yard in great health.

Tending to living things which depend on you can help you feel connected and important.

These hobbies include:

  • Planting a vegetable garden.
  • Volunteering at a pet shelter.
  • Grooming your pet.
  • Babysitting.
  • Planting a flower bed.

3. Make Something

When your depression or anxiety became serious, you may have lost interest in old hobbies or feared that things you made weren’t important. Getting back into artistic hobbies you used to enjoy (or hobbies you’ve never tried) can rekindle lost passion and revitalize your energy. Activities that produce physical signs of progress—like creating journal pages or knitting a scarf—can be both gratifying and motivating.

These hobbies include:

  • Drawing or painting.
  • Baking.
  • Scrapbooking or crafting.
  • Sewing or knitting.
  • Singing or playing an instrument.

4. Join a Group

If you are having a hard time with self-motivation, consider looking for a group that shares your interests. Engaging with other people not only alleviates feelings of isolation, but also can help keep you motivated and focused on your goals. Volunteer for an organization you care about, whether it’s the local Habitat for Humanity or community library, and allow yourself to make new friends and develop camaraderie with your fellow volunteers.

These hobbies include:

  • Volunteering in your church or community.
  • Joining (or creating) a book club.
  • Attending support group meetings.
  • Joining a community league sports team.
  • Practicing a religion.

5. Fix Something

Activities that require constant use of your hands help fuel creativity and motivation, along with producing tangible progress. Find and fill a need. This can be as small as changing a light bulb or washing an elderly neighbor’s car, or as big as cleaning out and reorganizing your garage. The purpose of these hobbies is to give yourself something to do that produces visible, useful results.

These hobbies include:

  • Making repairs around your home.
  • Taking an automotive or woodshop class.
  • Working on your car or bike.
  • Making pottery dishes.
  • Up-cycling old possessions.

There is no one-size-fits-all cure for anxiety disorders or depression. Celebrate small victories: a finished scrapbook page, sprouts in your flower bed, or a walk in the sunshine. Develop a treatment plan with your mental health care provider and use these hobby ideas to find what works for you.

Author Bio: Erika Remmington is a recent graduate of the University of California, Berkeley in linguistics with a minor in business. She is a wife, new mother, avid rock climber, and an independent free lance writer. She recommends Arborcare Tree Service Ltd. for yard maintenance projects.

Beat Depression

3 Character Traits that Beat Depression

istock_gratitudebHave you ever wondered why some people just seem to be naturally happy while others are prone to bouts of sadness and depression? No one’s life is perfect (whether it appears to be from the outside or not), but it is true that certain personality types tend to lend themselves to higher levels of joy and contentment. Don’t worry, though. If you happen to be one of those people who struggle with anxiety or depression, it doesn’t mean that you were born to be miserable. You can build the character traits associated with feelings of happiness. So, just which traits are those? Read on to find out!

• Self-Confidence
It should come as no surprise that depression and low self-esteem are interrelated. It’s hard to be happy about your life if you’re not happy with yourself. Logic would dictate then that to beat depression, you first need to tackle these feelings of self-doubt. Luckily, there are strategies you can use to build your self-image, including meditation methods that employ self-affirmations. When you feel yourself slipping into self-defeating thought patterns, try to recall a time when you felt successful. Close your eyes and travel back to that place in your mind. Then, describe the positive feelings you experienced in that moment. For instance, you might say “I feel empowered” or “Success is mine.” Reflecting on times when you felt triumphant can serve as a reminder of what you are capable of achieving. In addition to meditation methods, you can also take a proactive approach to building your self-image. Challenge yourself by taking up a new hobby or participate in a friendly competition. Prove to yourself that you’re capable of success.

• Gratitude
When you’re feeling down, it’s easy to shine a light on your problems and push the positive things in your life out of sight. People with high levels of gratitude tend to be happier, however, so this can be a self-defeating habit. Turn it around by taking purposeful steps toward a more appreciative attitude. Try meditation methods that focus on gratitude or keep a gratitude journal listing the things that you’re grateful for each day. Becoming more gracious won’t make your problems go away, but it could shift your perspective enough to help you beat depression back.

• Optimism
Do you wake up every morning dreading what the day holds? If so, then your anxiety or mood disturbances have taken a toll on your general attitude toward life. It happens to the best of us! Unfortunately, a pessimistic attitude will only make your circumstances seem even worse than they actually are. Plus, people who expect the best out of life usually get it. Coincidence? Not hardly! There are plenty of meditation methods that can help foster a more optimistic outlook. Start practicing them and take note of how your mood—and your life in general—improve.

It’s an illusion to think that other people have ideal lives. In fact, that kind of thinking can lead to self-pity and make your depression even worse. Instead of envying someone else’s circumstances, start building the kind of character that invites happiness and wellbeing. Knowing that you can be a happier person is an empowering realization that can lift your mood instantly and eventually help you beat depression once and for all.