The following post is a guest blog post, written by Jennifer Scott. We are grateful for her contribution!

An important part of coping with mental illness is choosing positive outlets for the difficult times. Too many people who struggle with mental illness will find themselves addicted to a substance as a result of self-medication. Self-medicating with alcohol or drugs is a mark of someone who does not know what else to do to feel better. Cultivating these positive habits for feeling better is critical in avoiding addiction and in learning to live a better life. These healthy habits also work to treat a preexisting addiction in the form of art therapy. We share a few fun hobbies that can work against the symptoms of mental illness here, to help inspire you to find your own healthy outlets.

Crocheting and Knitting

Crocheting and knitting both utilize yarn to make an infinite number of creations such as hats, scarves, blankets, and stuffed animals. The act of knitting or crocheting distracts the mind, helping it to abandon negative thoughts and focus on the task at hand. As an added benefit, many of these crocheted or knitted creations are useful either to the crafter or to others. If feeling useful helps you cope, you might consider donating the hats and scarves you crochet or knit to hospitals or shelters. Providing for people in need can be a great way to feel needed while simultaneously allowing you to spend time relaxing with your hobby.

Coloring and Drawing

Adult coloring books are filling the shelves of practically every store. While the insanely complex designs that could take years to complete may just be a trend, coloring does have a real therapeutic effect. Studies have shown that coloring reduces stress, relieves anxiety, and helps explore emotions. When done in combination with talk therapy, coloring or doodling has proven to be a very effective form of therapy for both addiction and mental illness.

Pet Care and Training

Simply owning a pet gives you a head start on reducing your stress. Studies show that pet owners live healthier, happier lives and typically have lower stress levels than people who do not own pets. Caring for a pet can be therapeutic, as it allows you to feel needed, generous, and loved. If you go the extra mile to care for your pet, perhaps learning to do professional-grade grooming at home, dressing your pet, and making homemade treats, you could certainly classify your pet care as a hobby.

Pet training is another activity that can improve your mood. The focus on training can limit fixation on mental health issues while the reward of successfully teaching your dog a trick will give you feelings of pride and self-worth. You might also go as far as training your dog to be a psychiatric service dog. A professional trainer will be needed for guidance, but once your pet is certified, it can become more than just a pet. It can be your partner with a set of tasks to help you cope with your illness.

Any hobby, including different types of exercise, that makes you feel better and easily can be completed each day serves as a useful coping tool for those with mental illness. When learning to live with mental illness, it is important that you remember to relax, do enjoyable things, and find healthy ways to improve your mental state. Anything from crocheting to training your cat to high-five can work against the symptoms of your illness. The activity does not matter. What does matter is that it makes you feel better and does not place you in danger of addiction.



About the Author

Jennifer Scott knows how difficult it can be to live with anxiety and depression. She has experienced both since she was in her teens. Today, she writes about the ups and downs of her mental illness on The blog serves as both a source of information for people with mental illness and a forum where those living with anxiety and depression can come together to discuss their experiences.

Image via Pixabay by MabelAmber

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