5 therapeutic hobbies you can turn to when life gets tense

Finding joy in the little things to de-stress.

Effie Tan

In love with skies and spicy food.

Published: 1 April 2021, 10:13 AM

When people find out how many hobbies I turn to for stress relief, they often think I must be a very stressed person. But I actually enjoy exploring and trying out new things that can act as coping mechanisms to maintain my mental health. 

Here are the five tried-and-tested hobbies I turn to on days when I’m stressed out. 

1. Embroidery

I am not an artsy person but I started having an interest in embroidery after watching countless YouTube videos on sewing during the circuit breaker period. 

Embroidery is something that requires patience and focus which helps to keep my mind off unhappy thoughts and worries.


I’m still learning and improving my embroidery skills but here’s an embroidery piece I’m currently working on. PHOTO CREDITS: YOUTHOPIA/EFFIE TAN


Now and then, I would purchase affordable embroidery kits online and indulge in the needlework. 

The final product might not always be perfect and beautiful, but at least I feel a sense of accomplishment for completing something small on a day that felt hard to get by.

2. Night sky watching

I’ve always found city views and skylines therapeutic at night because of its serenity and tranquillity. Watching the night sky is a form of therapy that doesn’t come with a price tag. 

My friends and I never fail to end our day at Bayfront whenever we unwind over the weekends. At times, we would sit down and have deep conversations about life. Other times, we would just lie down quietly and watch the night sky. 


I usually spend my evenings at Bayfront just so I could catch the sunset and snap some photos. PHOTO CREDITS: REAGAN TAN


Each time I watch the clouds pass by slowly, I realise how insignificant my problems are and that everything will eventually be okay. Watching the night sky helps me to slow down and escape reality, even if it is just for an hour.

3. Journaling

Journaling is an outlet for me to confess my thoughts and feelings without judgement because I sometimes find it hard to open up to others. 

It provides me with the opportunity to clear my mind and have positive self-talk sessions by jotting down encouraging and reassuring words on days I feel unmotivated. 


Sometimes reading my past journal entries make me realise how much I’ve learnt. PHOTO CREDITS: JESS BAILEY VIA UNSPLASH


Even on the busiest days, I try to spend at least five minutes before bedtime to track my mood and reflect on the events that happened so that I can go to sleep without any worries. 

It may seem like a hassle to pen down my every mood but it is worth it because I know I’m doing something good to benefit myself mentally and emotionally.

4. Decluttering

I first learnt about the KonMari method when I watched the Netflix hit Tidying Up with Marie Kondo. Just like what Marie Kondo believes, simplifying and organising your living space is the key to a serene environment. 

Since I spend most of my time in my room, I want to ensure that the space is clean and organised. My living space influences my day-to-day life – when my room is in a mess, I feel anxious and unmotivated.


Using the KonMari method makes decluttering so much easier for me. PHOTO CREDITS: SARAH BROWN VIA UNSPLASH


On weekends, I would rearrange the furniture in my room which gives me an incentive to sort through all the mess and piles of clothes that don’t spark joy. 

Going to sleep and waking up in a clean environment is a mood booster and I find myself starting the day with better focus when I am in an environment that brings me peace and comfort. 

5. Long bus rides

One of the things I enjoy the most is going on long bus rides with the company of music. After spending a long and tiring day outside, a long bus ride home is all that I need.

There is no greater comfort than sitting at the back of the bus, by the window with a good Spotify playlist in hand. 

Throughout the 50-minute bus ride, I get to enjoy the therapeutic feelings of solitude while watching the buzzing traffic and city lights on my way home. 


The experience of riding a bus changes when you spend it relaxing and enjoying the view, rather than using your phone. PHOTO CREDITS: JEYAKUMARAN MAYOORESAN VIA UNSPLASH


The uninterrupted alone time on long bus rides makes me feel relaxed and happy. I even created a Spotify playlist specifically for the days I decide to go on a long bus journey. 

Before I discovered these hobbies, I often let myself be consumed by my negative thoughts and emotions. But I have since learnt to control my negative emotions and express my feelings in the right places. 

To anyone who is struggling to find healthy coping mechanisms, don’t be afraid to step out of your comfort zone and try new things because you never know how it could change your life.

If you are looking for more mental well-being resources, check out Youthopia’s resource page with everything from mental health self-assessments to tips for coping with challenging seasons in life.

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