Hobbies for Depression and Anxiety

hobbies for depression and anxiety

When your mind is struggling, taking up hobbies for depression and anxiety can help. Here are a few activities you can use to keep yourself busy.

One of the best techniques I’ve found to help me through periods of depression and bouts of anxiety was through various hobbies. These served as wonderful distractions when I was worrying about something, as well as inspiration when life seemed meaningless. By occupying my mind, I managed to gain some perspective.

I’m a creative person, so I’ve always loved crafting and drawing. As such, many of the hobbies on this list will be creative.

photography hobby anxiety

What are the Best Hobbies for People with Anxiety?

Anxiety can be exhausting, especially when spiraling thoughts keep your brain busy. The best activities to help with anxiety keep your mind occupied. These should be a little challenging and require effort. If they’re too easy, your brain will likely hop back onto its rollercoaster of negativity.

Ideally, activities to calm anxiety should be a little bit creative, stimulating your brain and creating something concrete. Tactile activities can also be useful as they encourage you to focus on sensations other than the ones causing you anxiety. Some great examples of tactile anxiety activities are puzzles or gardening.

Hobbies to Help with Depression

When it comes to the best hobbies for depression, you’ll need to choose something creative. This will allow you to positively output your negative energy.

Also, pick something simple. If I’m in a dark place, putting any effort into anything seems impossible. So these activities should be easy. And I don’t mean just easy to do. They need to be easy to set up as well. And if you can, choose something colorful and light.

Pick things like coloring books, diamond dot art, or paint by stickers. These don’t require a lot of effort to set up, and you can do them from bed if you want. They’ll get your mind working, activate your creativity and give you a gentle distraction from whatever is bringing you down.

A hobby isn’t going to fix your depression, but it might give you something to look forward to.

paint by numbers

9 Hobbies to Help with Anxiety and Depression

Dealing with anxiety and depression isn’t easy. But there are things that can make the days seem less long and the feelings less debilitating.

So put on some music, light a candle, turn on your diffuser, and get stuck in. Here are some of the best hobbies for anxiety and depression

Adult Coloring Books

Adult coloring has risen in popularity over recent years. It’s even promoted as a method of relaxation and expression. For a while, I was obsessed. I spent every available moment coloring.

My only gripe with it was I didn’t enjoy choosing the colors. It led to far too much overthinking. I also got far too attached to the finished product. Rather than enjoying the process, I was obsessed with making it perfect.

Nevertheless, adult coloring is a lot of fun, and it’s great if you want to be creative. I’d recommend getting a decent set of coloring pens. My favorites are the Copic Ciao Markers, but a budget-friendly option is the Staedtler Double-Ended Fiber-Tip Pens.

If you’re looking to buy an adult coloring book, Kerby Rosanes has some stunning ones. The overall pictures are beautiful, and they’re made up of little sections for you to color.

Buy Kerby Rosanes Adult Coloring Books

Diamond Dot Art

I love diamond dot art. And it solves my biggest issue with coloring. You don’t have to make any color choices. You just repetitively stick down the dots. When I first saw it advertised, I assumed it would be difficult, but it’s one of the most entertaining hobbies I’ve found.

It’s easy to do and a lot of fun. I just need to be careful with my cats, as they’ve made a massive mess with my dots before. Watching the image come together is exciting, and you can get some really beautiful designs. When you’re done, you can either frame it, give it away as a gift or just add it to your collection of anxiety-created objects.

One of the best things about diamond dot art is it doesn’t require a lot of effort to set up. I keep mine in a tray and can get dotting within thirty seconds. You don’t need glue, water, or a desk (yep, you can do it from bed). Great for those bad days.

Buy a Diamond Dot Art Painting Kit

Paint By Numbers

I’ve never been a fan of painting (probably because I was never very good). It’s messy, and I’m a bit of a disaster when it comes to a paintbrush. You can always tell when I’ve been painting because I will be covered in it.

Because of this, I’ve done two paint by numbers in my life. One was with my dad when I was a kid. The second was last week. It was so much fun I neglected a lot of the tasks I was meant to be doing and just painted. But my anxiety was also high, and the painting was a perfect distraction.

I didn’t have to worry about anything other than filling in the designated areas. It was the perfect solution for my spiraling brain. I can attest to the fact that paint by numbers is one of the best hobbies for people with anxiety.

At first, I made a few mistakes as I went along, but they were easy to fix. Originally, I was skeptical about how the finished product would turn out, but it looked amazing.

Buy a Paint By Numbers

Scratch Art

The biggest downside of scratch art is it can be messy. You’ll find little black flecks all around you afterward.

Scratch-art is simple – you scratch a card and reveal a picture. I’ve come across two types. One has a full picture underneath, so you remove the entire black surface. On the other hand, you scratch a design onto the black, so you’re still left with quite a lot of black when you’re done.

The second one requires greater concentration and precise movements with your hands. Whereas in the first one, you can go wild. After a bad day, I just sit and scratch away at the black, and it honestly makes me feel better. I love how as you go along, the picture gets revealed.

Option one is great if you’re feeling depressed, while option two is one of the best activities for anxiety.

It is marketed as for kids, but I thoroughly enjoy it, and according to the government, I am an adult.

Buy Scratch Art Option One

Buy Scratch Art Option Two

Paint by Sticker/ Stickers Art

I have always loved stickers, so when I stumbled across a sticker mosaic book when I was in Ireland, I had to have it. It’s similar to a paint by numbers; you just have stickers instead of paint.

Even though I love it, it is also very frustrating. When you lose a sticker, the whole artwork is ruined. And I tend to lose a lot of stickers. It can also be a challenge to place the stickers perfectly in line. But those are just things that annoy me.

Once I let go of those, I had so much fun. And I completed all of the sticker books the one publisher had.

Buy Paint By Stickers


As a kid, building puzzles was one of the best ways to distract me from my anxiety. It kept me busy for hours, challenged my brain, and gave me something to focus on when my mind was out of control.

Puzzling gave me the space to regulate what I was feeling and understand what was happening in my body while keeping my hands busy.

After a while, they became too easy, and I started to build without the box. Then I discovered the Wasgij puzzles. These are such fun to build because you have to use your imagination to create the puzzle based on the clues given.

Buy a Wasgij puzzle

Buy a ‘normal’ puzzle


When I was searching for a will to live, I decided to try and experience all the wonders in life. I picked up my dad’s Nikon camera and started taking pictures. I quickly discovered that I loved capturing people in the moment.

It helped me to find things in life to be grateful for. And I did multiple art projects in school with photography.

Now taking photos is simple. All you need is your phone and a subject. But there is something magical about staring through a viewfinder.

Buy a DSLR Camera


Discover the beauty of nature by taking up gardening. This doesn’t mean you have to create an entire garden. It could simply be maintaining one or two plants. The thrill you get from not killing a plant is amazing.

I’d recommend getting a low-maintenance plant to start off with, like a succulent. They’re pretty forgiving if you have a bad day or forget to water them. They add life to your environment, and plants are really fascinating.

Buy some succulents


Many psychologists and psychiatrists have suggested I take up journaling for my anxiety. I’ve found people that swear by it and are committed to daily journaling. I do it more casually and prefer to do it via journal prompts.

But you can also write for a blog, write a book or even write letters. It can be a great way to get your thoughts out, share your experiences, or, in the case of fiction writing, escape from the world.

Plus, there are some stunning journals out there!

Buy a writer’s journal

Tips for Making the Most out of Your Hobbies:

  • Don’t be afraid to try new things, and don’t get too attached to feelings and thoughts around non-enjoyment. Depression makes it hard to enjoy things. Anxiety can make it challenging to let go.
  • Find some sunlight to absorb while you do your hobby
  • Be open to new experiences and let go of expectations
  • Try and don’t be afraid to fail
  • Let go of perfection

puzzle anxiety activities

Which Hobbies for Depression and Anxiety Help You?

This list only contains a few hobbies for depression and anxiety, but there are many more.

Which activities do you use to help with anxiety or depression? Let us know in the comments.

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