While many of us struggle with anxiety, the ways in which we struggle vary. While certain issues may not apply to everyone, I think a major issue that is usually attached to anxiety is overthinking and focusing too much on irrational fears. Along with practice and exercise, an important step in getting through anxiety is finding a way to get our minds on something other than our fears. While this step can certainly be difficult since fear can be a very powerful force, there are ways to turn negative thinking into positive energy by concentrating and working on things we enjoy instead of fear.
It can be hard to focus on something other than our anxiety when it is so strong. However, there are plenty of positive things we can focus on. There are so many hobbies in the world to choose from; healthy ways to get into action and be productive instead of spending all your time and energy on something that holds you back and makes you feel limited.
Hobbies. Hobbies are employed not only by those of us who suffer from anxiety, but by almost everyone in the world. Hobbies have the ability to take our minds off of the things that slow us down.
Boredom is one of the worst things for anxiety. Oftentimes, when we are bored, our minds begin to wander. Unfortunately, for those of us who suffer from anxiety, most of the time when our minds wander, we tend to focus on the negative instead of the positive. Hobbies can help us change our thought process, they can give us something entertaining and healthy to do.
I’ve always been someone who is often bored. I was always telling my parents when I was younger how bored I was and I still find myself saying it sometimes. However, I have found that hobbies are a great way to keep busy and keep focused on what we are doing instead of how we are feeling. Here are some of the hobbies I have started to do. I will explain just how they help get my mind off of my anxiety.
Puzzles- Working on a puzzle that is challenging helps the person working on it focus on the task at hand instead of what is bothering them. Puzzles take a lot of attention to detail and hard work and because of this, puzzles are a great way to get your mind on something other than your usual negative thoughts. Puzzles, much like being successful in getting through anxiety, also enables a person to feel successful when they find the piece they are looking for. Seeing that you can do a challenging puzzle may also help you realize that you have the ability, with hard work, to get through your anxiety. Puzzles, while not as challenging as fear, show that just because something is hard, does not make it impossible! Puzzles are also colorful and can cheer you up simply by staring at the vast amount of colors!
Reading- Reading a good book that you can really get into can help immensely with anxiety. I’ve read books before that don’t quite do the trick but when a book is really interesting, I’ve found reading helpful. Reading a good story helps us fall under the spell of another world, a world where fascinating things can happen. Even if there are parts of the story that are stressful for the character in the book, the stressful situation is part of the character’s life and not ours. Also, while we need to deal with reality, there is nothing wrong with taking a break from our own lives and diving into the fictional life (or non-fictional life) of a story and a character.
Movies & TV- Watching calming TV shows (or at least ones that aren’t too anxiety inducing) is a great way to get our minds off anxiety. While we shouldn’t watch too much TV (sorry to sound like a parent), watching TV can be a great way to concentrate on what’s going on in the show instead of our own hectic lives or situations. The benefits of watching TV to get our minds on something other than stress is similar to that of reading a book. However, for those of us who may want to visually see something distracting instead of having to make up our own images in our mind, a TV show is a great way for almost all of the senses to lose themselves in something entertaining. By hearing people talking in TV shows, we get distracted from our fears. By watching TV, we are able to visually see something which in turn, helps us focus on the show instead of anything else. Movies do the same thing!
Crafts- For me, hobbies have always revolved around being creative. I’m no artist, I can hardly draw a stick person but, that doesn’t stop me. One of my favorite things to do is paint pottery. The simplicity of just doing basic painting strokes really helps me feel at peace and forget everything that makes me anxious.
Writing- Whether I’m writing about what’s going on in my head or about something to distract me, it can really help. Words are an escape whether it’s through writing or reading. Writing helps to put negative energy into something more positive that helps you get it out. When you want to get your feelings out without actually talking about it.
Writing- Writing a story or book also helps you create your own world. You are able to focus on something that you created, but in a positive way. Instead of focusing on anxiety that you may have created, you can focus on something you are good at: writing. When you are working hard on your writing, it’s hard to focus on your fears. Also, not only does writing stories or poetry help you get your feelings out, but if you share your works, you can also feel good knowing that you are sharing your feelings with others and possibly, even connecting and helping them.
Sports- Sports are a great way to get out your frustrations in a more physical way. I know when I’m really anxious I run, I sprint as fast as I can for as long as I can. It’s almost like physically running away from your problems, without actually hiding from your issues. In most sports, like soccer, baseball, any type of hockey, tennis, or several other sports, you can hit things, and that physical release can really help to get out anxieties. Using sports as a hobby is a healthy release of our fears or anger, instead of an unhealthy way.
Exercising/Stretching/Practicing- While perhaps not always considered a hobby, exercising and practicing facing your fears should also become a habit. By consistently exercising and stretching, you prove to yourself that you can get through your anxiety and other issues. Also, by facing your fears, you are allowing yourself to make progress and you can begin to see that you are capable of doing so.
While anxiety may seem all consuming and unbearable a lot of the time, hobbies can help to be a distraction and a relieving way to release some of your built up anxieties. All of these hobbies distract you from the negative energy your body is holding against you. Whether it’s running, puzzles, yoga, or painting, you can find a sense of security in a hobby. I really encourage the use of hobbies as a way of handling anxiety. While it may not be entirely distracting, it is a good way of releasing those bad feelings that anxiety bring you.