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Participating in pastimes you enjoy, like cooking and writing, gives your mind gets a break from anxiety and tension because you're focusing on a completely unrelated activity. The added bonus of taking a mental breather is a reinvigorated perspective about the event or task that was causing stress in the first place.
For example, if a project at work is causing inner anguish, find a healthy distraction like talking with co-workers or playing a game of Solitaire. When you're ready to return to the project, your mind will be more focused and ready to deal with the situation at hand.
"A hobby is helpful because it gives another outlet to feel good, relaxed, and confident," says Diana Evans Berman, LMFT, LCSW, an Atlanta therapist who has been practicing for more than 20 years. "Stress often comes from feeling out of control."
Choosing a hobby you feel successful at can boost your self-esteem and sense of well-being. Finding pleasure in this type of activity seems to offer a sense of control, and improving a skill set or ability also contributes to self-esteem.
"Something to find joy and gratitude in is great for managing stress," says Berman.
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