No matter how well you manage all the day-to-day microstressors and real-life responsibilities, the pressure of adulting is real. We all get a little overwhelmed sometimes, and certain self-care hobbies can help you relax and reset. Remember playing as a kid and just having some free time to pretend and create without feeling guilty about it? Adults need that too.
As the mom of a kid with special needs and just a generally anxious person, I've learned that I can be a far more functional person when I take care of myself too. For me, the key seems to be finding something that lets me just be in the moment and turn off all the noise of daily life and worries. The right hobby or activity will be different for everyone, but these are some ideas that are definitely worth trying.
Self-Care Hobbies to Try That Can Help You Thrive
Is self-care a hobby? It could be if you're trying lots of different activities, but I've found it works best the other way around. A hobby is a way to practice self-care, especially if you find the right one for you. This list is a good place to start.
Cooking for Fun
Anyone who handles the everyday cooking for a family knows that it can become kind of a chore. There are times I just put a frozen pizza and a bag salad on the table and call it good because I just can't handle the idea of cooking another meal.
But there's also the kind of cooking that brings joy. Do you love trying new recipes or learning new techniques? Sign up for a cooking class or try your hand at making bread. Look for something that's challenging enough to keep you engaged but rewarding enough that you feel like you're succeeding.
Cooking becomes a self-care hobby when you're making food you don't have to make. Go for the fun dishes you've always wanted to try, not the family meals you need to feed those picky eaters.
Crafting for Yourself
As someone who has made what feels like a million children's Halloween costumes and baby quilts, I can tell you there's a big difference between crafting for yourself and making something for other people. Creating your own DIY gifts is wonderful and totally rewarding, but making something just for you is a wonderful act of self care.
Think about what you'd like to make for your garden or your living room. Maybe there's an accessory or jewelry piece you'd like to trying creating yourself. Then go for it. You'll get the fun of making it and the fun of enjoying it too.
Drawing or Painting Without Judgement
The thing about being creative as a grown-up is that we tend to judge our work pretty harshly. Somewhere in the space between drawing stick people and taking care of little people (or pets), a lot of us start to critique our own work. That has a place, especially if we're trying to improve, but it can take a lot of the joy out of making art.
If you can turn off that critical voice, drawing and painting can be a wonderful way to care for yourself. Lift the pressure for perfection and just enjoy making abstract art or sketching. Even just doodling or allowing yourself to improvise creatively can give you the recharge you need.
Gardening for Joy
Growing things can be super rewarding, especially if you choose something you're doing just for fun. For you, that might be a vegetable garden that gives you delicious DIY produce. Or it could be a flower garden that you grow only to make something beautiful. Whatever the purpose, this isn't gardening as a chore.
Speaking as someone who doesn't exactly have a green thumb all the time, I feel best when I'm growing something that isn't too challenging. My lilac bushes and peonies reward my minimal effort with fragrant blooms, and my tomato plants offer so much delicious joy in the late summer.
If you're looking for a self-care hobby that will really give you a chance to focus on what's right in front of you, it's hard to beat photography. This is my own chosen form of self-care because it's always challenging and always involves really being mindful of what is in happening in your life right now. Some of my photos aren't of happy things exactly - I sometimes photograph more on days when it's hard to connect with my son on the autism spectrum or when my little one is low on sleep and kind of weepy.
We see a lot of pictures every day, and people post them for a lot of different reasons. But if you take pictures for yourself and try to capture not just the smiles and sunsets but the tears and thunderstorms too, you may find that it helps you process those more difficult moments and find the joy in the ordinary.
Don't let the lack of a digital or film camera stop you from taking up photography as a hobby. I don't always have my big cameras with me, but I don't let that stop me from taking pictures. It's all about creating a photo with intention and trying to communicate emotion.
Writing Without an Audience
The thing about writing (and I'm saying this as a writer) is you usually have to keep your audience in mind while you're doing it. We're always thinking about how our words will be seen and read by others, and that's a really important skill.
But to write for self-care, take away the audience. Just write for you. Start a journal or write a poem every week. Begin writing your memoirs without a plan to have anyone else read what you put down.
Getting Out in Nature
There are a lot of self-care hobbies to do at home, but there's something to be said for getting outside. This can take the form of hiking, bird-watching, a casual stroll - basically anything that gets you away from your normal routine and into the peace of the natural world.
There's something very centering and calming about being away from your computer and near the plants and animals. Take some time to be mindful and pay attention to what your senses are telling you. You can make this a regular part of your self-care practice or just something you do once in a while.
Tips to Find the Perfect Self-Care Hobby for You
I've done a lot of creative hobbies in my life, and for me, photography is the one that makes me feel recharged and renewed. The perfect hobby is different for everyone, though. These tips can help you find it:
- Try everything. Be open to new experiences and trying out some hobbies you might not ordinarily enjoy. You might be surprised at what you love.
- Think about what speaks to your heart. What do you love most in the world? Try a hobby that lets you connect with that thing.
- Remember what it was like to be a kid. What did you love to do? Try a grown-up version of that activity.
- Be willing to switch. If you have a hobby you're not really loving, be open to giving something else a try.
Part of Caring for Yourself
When you're feeling guilty for taking time for yourself (and most of us do struggle with guilt), it helps to remember that self-care hobbies really are part of how you take care of yourself. It's just like eating well or going to the doctor or getting a good night's sleep. Doing something you enjoy lets you recharge your batteries so you have more to give to all the other responsibilities in your life.