Top 10 Stress-Relieving Hobbies

With today's stressful lifestyles, it's important to have time that you take to do something just for the fun of it as part of your self-care. While there are many great hobbies to choose from, this is a list of hobbies that are particularly useful in relieving stress. Learn about the benefits of each, and find resources to get started on a new great hobby for stress relief.



Woman planting flowers in her backyard

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Gardening can be a great stress reliever for many reasons, including getting you into the sunshine and fresh air, creating more beautiful surroundings to come home to each day, and more.


Explore Photography

woman taking photo with camera

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Whether you simply learn to take better pictures of your friends and family or delve into the world of creating true art, photography can be a great hobby. As you practice seeing the world through the eye of a photographer, you may begin to see things differently. The end result? Not only do you have a diverting hobby and an activity to call your own, but you see the world as a more beautiful place in your daily life.



woman looking at photos scrapbooking at coffee table

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Whether you have a few pictures or boxes of them, scrapbooking can be a great hobby. It combines artistry with journaling to create a unique vehicle for displaying your memories and passing them to future generations. Scrapbooking offers many social opportunities (in the form of classes, gatherings, and forums), and a break from what stresses you, to create something beautiful that others can enjoy as well.


Maintain an Aquarium

woman feeding fish in aquarium

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Watching aquarium fish has proven health benefits, including reducing blood pressure and relieving stress. Maintaining an aquarium of beautiful fish can be considered a useful hobby because it requires regular (but not overwhelming) attention, has the potential to connect you with other saltwater fish enthusiasts, and provides you with the opportunity to create something unique: your own mix of fish, rock, and plant life.



two senior women doing puzzle together at table

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Engaging your mind in a puzzle can take your focus off of what’s stressing you, and develop your brain power at the same time. The end result is that you get a nice break, experience some 'flow’, and come back to your problems with a fresher, stronger mind, which can help you to better handle life’s stressors.


Drawing, Painting, and Coloring

young woman doodling in notebook at desk

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You can get in touch with your artistic side and use drawing as a way to process emotions, distract yourself, and achieve other stress management benefits. The end result will be something beautiful and personal that you can enjoy or share.

Painting carries similar stress management benefits as drawing​ but through a different medium.

Coloring is another great stress-relieving activity that has grown in popularity.


Physical Activity or Exercise

exercise, thyroid exercise, exercise for thyroid patients
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Physical activity can not only improve physical health; it can also relieve stress and improve your mental well-being. Look for a physical activity or exercise that you enjoy, then start making it a regular part of your life. It might be something as simple as going for a walk each day. Other ideas including joining a local sports team, signing up for an exercise class, or using online exercise workouts a few times each week.



adult daughter and mother knitting and smiling

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Aside from helping you create beautiful gifts for yourself and others, knitting provides you with an opportunity to relieve stress. The repetitive motion can get you into an experience of ‘flow’, or can at least provide an outlet for nervous energy.


Playing an Instrument

woman playing piano

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Music has many health and stress relief benefits. While listening to music can probably be considered a hobby, creating music can be an even more powerful stress-relieving hobby, as it can absorb your attention fully and become a vehicle for creative expression as well.

Learning to play an instrument such as the piano can be a stress reliever for you as well as for those around you, as you share the music you create.



man writing on desk behind laptop

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Many people have found journaling to be a great stress reliever, and the practice comes with proven stress management and health benefits as well! Writing, whether in a personal journal, as an amateur author, or even as a professional, is a hobby that can be cathartic and relaxing, and provides something great to share with others.

2 Sources
Verywell Mind uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
  1. Clements H, Valentin S, Jenkins N, et al. The effects of interacting with fish in aquariums on human health and well-being: A systematic review. PLoS ONE. 2019;14(7):e0220524. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0220524

  2. Smith MA, Thompson A, Hall LJ, Allen SF, Wetherell MA. The physical and psychological health benefits of positive emotional writing: Investigating the moderating role of Type D (distressed) personality. Br J Health Psychol. 2018;23(4):857-871. doi:10.1111/bjhp.12320

By Elizabeth Scott, PhD
Elizabeth Scott, PhD is an author, workshop leader, educator, and award-winning blogger on stress management, positive psychology, relationships, and emotional wellbeing.