A new year brings hopes of new and exciting adventures, but it also brings new anxieties and causes of stress as well. Winter dwindles, and we grow restless. School or work picks up again after the holidays, and our exhaustion picks up again too.
When I get home from a long day of classes, I want to relax and enjoy myself. For some reason, however, staring at my phone or computer screen and taking endless naps don't seem to do the trick. So turn off the electronics and pick up one of these many simple hobbies that can be extremely therapeutic and incredibly enjoyable.
1. Collect something.
It doesn't have to be expensive, and you may have already started without realizing. I started picking up old cameras at antique stores because of my love for photography, and before I knew it I had dozens. It's an easy way for friends to find a good birthday gift for you as well!
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2. Explore new music.
Try listening to that band you've told your friend you'd listen to for the past 6 months. Listen to a genre you've never cared for. Listen to a song so many times that you know every word. Music is a great way to unwind.
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3. Do a puzzle.
Despite what you might think, puzzles aren't just for the elderly. I recently found a Star Wars puzzle at the store and had a really fun time putting it together with my roommates. It was challenging, but also relaxing. Word puzzles can be a lot of fun, too!
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4. Do some coloring.
If you haven't heard about the "adult coloring" craze, you better jump on board quick. Stores are filled with therapeutic coloring books, and people don't hesitate to buy them. Why? Because they work.
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5. Try journaling.
Even if it's just a sentence a day, journaling is proven to help you process events in your life better, and it can even be exciting to look back on in the future. And yes, guys can totally do this too.
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6. Get a pet.
While this may end up causing more stress if you're not ready for one, having a living companion can be immensely comforting. Even if it's something relatively small and low-maintenance like a hamster or turtle, having the responsibility over another living thing can lift your spirits and zap your stress away.
7. Teach your pet new tricks.
If you already have a pet, try teaching it some new tricks. The routine of working on it can be a fun way to spend your down time at home, and the bonding you experience with your pet is sure to relieve stress as well.
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8. Get plants to take care of.
If animals aren't the best idea for you at the moment, try taking care of plants. Watching them flourish and grow is not only rewarding, but it is something to do daily that will help you flourish as well.
9. Read a book.
Get off Facebook. Stop reading BuzzFeed. Pick up an actual book and read it! If you already read books for school or work, make sure to find a pleasurable book that's for your personal enjoyment.
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10. Knit something.
It's really not difficult at all, and you can make some fantastic items to wear or gift to others. With the tutorials and instructions we have at such easy access all over the internet, what excuse could you have to not try something new like this?
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11. Paint by number.
The picture above was taken by my friend last summer when I decided a "paint by number" might be a really relaxing way for me to spend my Saturdays. Six hours later, I couldn't be more content and stress-free. You don't have to have artistic ability, just be patient and have fun!
Image courtesy of Samantha Roenigk.
12. Bake some desserts.
Now I don't mean grabbing a package of pre-made cookie dough and plopping it on a cookie sheet. I mean actually baking. Crack some eggs, measure some flour, and get your hands dirty for crying out loud. The time you spend baking or cooking won't only be rewarding by the yummy treats you make, but you'll find yourself happy and relaxed as well.
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13. Learn to play an instrument.
I started playing guitar 7 years ago because I convinced myself to finally go and buy one and just try it. If you don't want to get that extravagant, try something simpler (and cheaper) like a ukulele or a harmonica. Watch some YouTube tutorials in your spare time, and enjoy spending your down time learning to make some tunes.
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14. Play cards.
Whether it's a slow paced game of solitaire by yourself or a chaotic game of "Jack Slap" with your friends, a hands on game of cards not only stimulates your brain, but can be stress relieving, too.
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15. Watch a documentary.
Stop binge watching Orange is the New Black and try checking out the documentary section on Netflix for a change. You'll find it's actually quite enjoyable to learn new things and you'll actually feel productive and inspired.
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16. Learn a new language.
You don't have to have a goal of being trilingual in 6 months to explore a new language. It's exciting just to be at the grocery store and know how to say the names of different fruits in Italian, or maybe you just want to finally figure out what Lady Marmalade is saying in her song.
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17. Go hammocking.
Nothing feels better than swinging in the breeze and reading a book. Even better, grab yourself a double hammock and someone to snuggle with.
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18. Go camping.
Stop complaining about how you have nothing to do on a Friday night and try going camping! It's an experience that everyone has to try, and if you end up enjoying it a lot, it could be a new monthly or even weekly ritual for you.
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19. Find a regular place to volunteer.
The true reward of volunteering comes when faces become familiar and it fills you up more than it drains you. Find a program that pairs at-risk youth with mentors or be a part of a team that delivers meals to the elderly.
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20. Take up running.
If you're thinking "absolutely not" right now, then this idea is especially for you. You don't have to athletic or fast to enjoy running. Breaking a sweat and having sore muscles every once in a while is a stimulating experience, and exercising is sure to relieve your stress.
21. Go to a museum.
Go stare at a painting for an hour or get an actual tour guide to teach you what you don't know about your city's local museum that you've been to a thousand times. Learning is not only fun, but it's a great way to spend your chill time.
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22. Learn origami.
Again, there is an abundance of resources on the internet to try something like this. Maybe instead of just throwing your old grocery list away, you can transform it into a beautiful swan. It may seem silly, but I guarantee you'll enjoy it more than you think.
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23. Go stargazing.
No matter how far from you have to drive from home before you can really see them, experiencing the beauty of the night sky will always be worth it. Grab a blanket, some friends, and enjoy the peace and quiet that's always there when you look for it.
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24. Practice calligraphy.
Who knows, maybe by the next birthday on the calendar you'll be able to make a fairly impressive card instead of buying an overpriced one from the drugstore. It's a great excuse to write your name over and over, and with practice, you might find not only relieve some stress, but you might impress yourself too.