INDULGING in at least one hobby, whether drawing, baking, gardening, colouring or swimming provides an “escape valve” for people with high stress levels, says a health professional.
Focusing on a particular project or hobby can help people achieve a meditative state, which is a therapeutic tool to release stress.
Raja Permaisuri Bainun Hospital Consultant Psychiatrist Dr Loo Tsui Huei said stress is a normal response, and it motivates people to perform.
However, Dr Loo said too much of stress is not healthy, as it increases the heart rate, blood pressure, and hormone levels.
She said, if prolonged, stress is detrimental to both physical and mental health. Researchers have found that people who engage in something they deeply enjoy experience a decrease in stress hormones and improvement in health in the long term.
“Chronic stress has been linked to multiple health problems, increased depression, and weaker immune system.
“Engaging in pleasurable activities is beneficial to both psychological and physical well being as this provides an outlet to relieve stress,” she said.
Dr Loo added people who engage in leisure activities are generally 34% less stressed, and 18% less sad while carrying out the activities.
She said they also feel happier as these activities serve as a breather from a stressful environment.
She added that such activities require minimal mental effort, and provide a break from routine, or matters that occupy minds most of the time.
“Leisure activities work as a ‘stress buffer’ which helps in promoting a sense of well-being, and at the same time offer a way for people to refresh themselves and cope with stress.
“Such activities definitely help to reduce low moods, and anxious feelings,” she added.
Housewife N.Redika Kanarasan, 41, said she likes gardening as it helps her to de-stress after a long day.
She said handling soil feels therapeutic to her and helps her relax.
“Another way I unwind is by baking, as the yummy smell of cakes and pastries relaxes my mind instantly,” added the mother of two school-going children.
Self-employed Baljit Kaur, 37, said she usually exercises, reads books, journals, create scrapbooks or cook to unwind.
“I try to keep myself occupied as often as I can, so sometimes I even create my own family picture collage, and try out new recipes for cooking.
“As I am carrying out these leisure activities, I have no time to think about negatives issues,” added the mother of two toddlers.
Serena Lim, 45, a marketing executive said she hardly has time to indulge in leisure activities.
She said her work involves a lot of running about and meeting client to close sales.
“I drink lots of water, eat properly, and take supplements to ensure I am not tired while working,” she added.
Lim said during her off-days she tried to sleep in, but also took time to do housework.
“Maybe my form of releasing stress is when I do housekeeping, as I am the type of person who likes to see a clean house,” she added.