Using a Hobby to Manage Stress

Stress. Anxiety. Depression. They are deadly. They are spreading like a virus, according to surveys. The world’s events, our increasing complexity and social isolation are all contributing to our growing anxiety and fear.

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With the current turmoil in the world, more people are feeling overwhelmed by anxiety, stress, uncertainty, confusion, and the numbing mental fog caused by endless stress.

Our patrons are now sharing their strategies to reduce stress. Some of these strategies are well-known. Regular sleep, better diet, exercise and being outside in nature are all common. I was most surprised by the amount of people who have a hobby that helps them manage stress. It’s their way of getting perspective and relief.

Model railroading was one of my stress relievers. A number of patrons wanted to see it.

1958, is a small town with lots of industry, and lots of railroad traffic. This might seem odd for someone with difficulty paying attention, following-through, and distraction. However, for me, for over 50 years, this has been a sort of meditative touchstone. My mind is constantly imagining dialogues and complications when I write comedy. It’s almost as if I’m being hypnotized. It’s funny if it’s funny. If not, it’s okay.

Use a hobby to reduce stress This is different. It requires me to be here, focus on each brush stroke, every knife cut, and be present. Although it sounds paradoxical, how can a hobby that demands precision and patience be relaxing. It doesn’t require patience but it draws me into a place of patience, being very focused on what I’m doing, it absorbs my attention, a bit like a candle that provides focus for a meditation monk.

Model railroading may make you shiver, but it’s just as terrifying to me as golf. It’s a form of relaxation therapy that I love and is similar to yin yoga.

It’s almost like writing for television. There’s no deadline and no delivery date. However, if I want a revision or improvement to a script with an amazing new gag and a better punchline, it’s already been edited and broadcast.

Although friends come and are astonished, there is no audience. I am the only one who can edit, improve and add to the content. I don’t have any deadlines and I work at my own pace. The silence is peaceful, there are no calls, requests or push notifications. I find that having music playing in the background helps me focus. I usually just play a document that I’ve seen before. I listen to half of it, then quarter of it, and finally I listen to a 20th.

A second difference is that, unlike writing, this is physical and slow, but it’s immediately rewarding. I can write a funny skit, and it may take weeks or even months for an audience to see it in the studio, then it will be broadcast. Here, the positive feedback is instant and unlike the laughter, it’s always there.

As I am in charge, I can express my vision. No studio executive is telling you to make your husband more likeable.

This allows me to set my own standards. I may not be hyper-focused when I retreat to this place, but I don’t need to take too long to slow down and relax to get into the zone. For me, zoned out is an endless loop of irrelevant, ineffective, useless, and anxiety-inducing hubbub. Or lost in time wasters those that put my life in pause. I scroll lost in a passive, semi-amusement state by things I’m not going to ever remember.

There is nothing wrong with moderation, but I am sometimes shocked by how much time I spend online. That’s when I realized that I could actively de-stress, do some chores, go for a walk with my spouse, sit outside watching the birds and wild rabbits, or just doing this.

End Child Anxiety

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