How to Thwart Stress by Enjoying More of Your Hobbies

Posted on April 30, 2015 by Shawn Friday, MEd, LPC, CEAP

Stress Writing

Many people today are overscheduled and overstressed. Free time is a precious commodity and there never seems to be enough to do all the things we need to do and stay balanced. Even when it seems impossible to squeeze in some relaxation and stress reducing activities, making some room for this can go a very long way in recharging your mental, emotional and physical energy. Stress reduction does not have to mean meditation or yoga, but can be anything you find effective in breaking away from the cares of the day to focus on something else.

If you could use some stress relief, spending time with a hobby may be helpful for you. Perhaps getting back into a hobby you once enjoyed, or trying something totally new. Stress management expert, Elizabeth Scott highlights 10 possibilities in her About Health article.

  1. Gardening
  2. Explore Photography
  3. Scrapbooking
  4. Maintain a Salt Water Aquarium
  5. Puzzles
  6. Drawing
  7. Painting
  8. Knitting
  9. Playing the Piano
  10. Writing

I believe writing, number 10 on Scott’s list, is a great way to process thoughts and emotions, and relieve stress. There’s just something powerful about taking things from your heart and head, and putting it down in words, whether through writing stories, keeping a diary or writing poetry. Here is one story on the therapeutic power of writing poetry: Will a Poem a Day Keep the Doctor Away?.

Reading poetry can also be stress reducing and therapeutic. By the way, did you know April is National Poetry Month? And April 30th is Poem in Your Pocket Day. Poem in Your Pocket Day originated in New York City in 2002 and has since been taken nationwide by the Academy of American Poets. On this day, individuals select and keep a poem to share with others throughout the day.

One writing exercise I have assigned to clients is to list out areas of concern (or worry), then determine concerns they can actually potentially change. For areas that cannot be changed, the task is to work on letting it go.

Here is one “poem” I personally like to share. This first stanza is often recited in 12-step programs such as Alcoholics Anonymous. If you are familiar with the work of Stephen Covey, you can see how this relates to the concepts of “Circle of Influence” and “Circle of Concern.”

God, give us grace to accept with serenity
the things that cannot be changed,
Courage to change the things
which should be changed,
and the Wisdom to distinguish
the one from the other.

By Reinhold Niebuhr (1892-1971)

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