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What's exciting and enjoyable for one person can be tedious and silly to another ? that's why choosing a hobby for stress relief depends on individual tastes. If you love brainteasers, buy a workbook full of Sudoku and crossword puzzles; if art is your thing, register for a drawing class.

Other hobbies that can be healthy distractions during stressful times include:

- Playing cards
- Painting, sculpting, and related arts
- Socializing
- Volunteering
- Playing sports and exercising
- Cooking
- Gardening
- Knitting

There are thousands of activities that offer stress relief so don't feel relegated to only one hobby ? it's good to be interested in lots of pastimes so you have a bigger bag of tricks to pull from when you're stressed, says Berman. Because humor and laughter offer this type of release, choosing an activity that makes you smile is another good way of finding a stress reliever.

Remember that the goal of using hobbies as healthy distractions is to temporarily take away your stress, not add to it. If joining the Parent Teacher Association (PTA) is going to raise your stress level, it's probably not the right type of distraction to meet your needs. However, just because an activity, like learning to play the guitar, is challenging, doesn't automatically make it stressful ? sometimes a demanding hobby makes the results that much more rewarding.

If stress seems to be invading every aspect of your life, including hobbies meant to offer solace, it may be time to seek professional guidance from your doctor or a licensed therapist. Trained professionals can propose additional ways to manage stress.

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