Top Tips: Hobbies to Help your Anxiety
"Anxiety is often caused by chronic arousal of the sympathetic nervous system, & can be a result of sustained, high stress,"
Who else feels like this is their default position? Jodi Rose Gonzales, ATR, NCC, RYT200, a credentialed art therapist & yoga instructor highlights the problem & today, we will be suggesting some hobbies to help turn this default setting off (or at least , down a little.)
We’ve felt like there has been a big increase about our conversation around anxiety; maybe it’s because we are highlighting our own inner neurosis (we’ve an exciting workshop about that!) or maybe, as a society we don’t spend enough time talking about these issues & the link that it has with our productivity & working style.
We thought we would share some of our favourite hobbies & tips that are great for calming the mind, helping you to manage your anxiety; separating your work life from your actual life.
We have already spoken at length about burnout, anxiety & its symptoms; so here, we are focusing on the hobbies & tasks that will give you the opportunity to channel negative reactions into positive solutions to manage & overcome or manage your anxious habits.
Yes, I know, I know we are very biased here. Our list about Why You Should Bullet Journal highlights the basics of journaling & why it’s a great way to organise your mind & alleviate your anxiety.
“Journaling can provide a healthy outlet for our thoughts," Dr. Erika Velez, a licensed clinical psychologist states; meaning if you are a dedicated Bullet Journalist or just need a place to make your internal dialogue… external; having a Journal is a great place to begin your journey.
Start by creating a list of three things; your current feelings or thoughts during the day, what you have achieved at the end of the day or simply free-writing (the only person it should make sense to, is you.)
This may sound like work (not for us) but trust us it helps.
How many tasks or things are lurking in your home or at work (therefore constantly at the back of your mind) that make you feel guilty when you settle in for a Netflix session? Once you have tackled the boxes under the bed, that guilt & the task itself are gone. A Tel Aviv University study found that repetitive tasks can be soothing; when you take part in repetitive task or project, it helps you to feel you are managing a situation that can feel overwhelming, encouraging you to self soothe into lull you into a sense of calm; helping you to relax in the longer term.
Start in small batches & work up to bigger projects; you will soon find you’ve the perfect, productive hobby (that will leave your home and/or work a breeze in the long run.
Don’t get me wrong, of the top five things of things we like to do, four of those involve the indoors.
But when simply going outside can become an anxiety reducing hobby. Our resident Freelancer suggests it; we, despite our protestations practice it & even Richard M. Burleigh a provisionally licenced professional counsellor, with a Masters of Science in Clinical Mental Health Counselling has a study to back it up. "Research has shown that being outside in the sun & in nature is soothing to our brains”.
Take a daily stroll around your local park (we are practically spoilt for choice in London) or, even if you are a confirmed urbanite; just a walk around your local area & it will help you to relax, to breathe & most importantly reduce anxiety.
One of Lucinda’s favourite & most calming hobbies, spend too long around her, while she has an embroidery ring in her hand and she will tell you, every time “Did you know that embroidery was prescribed to soldiers following WWII to help them with their PTSD?”, similarly to organising, this is a repetitive task, one that helps to calm & clear the mind (and helps to improve & maintain your brain function. Polly Leonard, founder of Selvedge magazine states succinctly, “The rhythmic, repetitive moments necessary to knit, sew or crochet are proven to have therapeutic benefits & improve mental health & emotional wellbeing, increasing serotonin production and inducing a natural state of mindfulness.”
This is something that helps everyone. Not only does it help people in need, but it helps to reduce your anxiety symptoms. GP & spokesperson for Medstars, Noreen Hashmi, even prescribes it to some patients! When you volunteer, it allows your shift your focus toward others, which is a great help if you have an anxious mind that needs quietening.
No, it’s not just for children. It’s for adults too.
Adult colouring has exploded, with some colouring books have even becoming national/International bestseller Lists.
Colouring for adults is a great to help calm the area responsible for fear & anxiety, the amygdala; it can even be as calming as meditation.
Because it requires you to focus (without the pressure that anxiety can induce) helping with your problem solving. Giving you the opportunity to put everything else aside at that moment and focus on the task at hand. It is not dependant on you being able to colour within the lines either; just being in the moment is enough; not the final result.
Like many of these hobbies and tips, it often involves diverting your focus away from an anxious situation.
Most of the time, here at Methodical, we spent a lot of time telling you to get off of your phone, but we have found one good use for them, being distracted by games.
We love engaging with games; when you focus on clearing that line of dominoes or getting the ball to avoid a wall of impending doom, which gives us the best opportunity to get out of our heads.
Rather than checking your emails on your commute (morning or evening) play a game instead. It gives you the chance to define your work life, from your actual life, whilst giving you a little jolt of Dopamine that can help alleviate anxiety. Just remember to put the phone down once you have completed your journey.
These are just a few ideas that could help you with you’re anxiety and give you the opportunity to stop, take a breath and calm down!
Many of these tips have helped a lot of people and if you have found a hobby or tip that has helped you deal with (or at the very list, manage) your anxiety, why not share it below?