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.