Updated: Nov 7
3 Ways to Release Stress
There’s pressure to be productive even while many of us are at home, but it’s important to take time for relaxing and enjoying life. It’s a wonderful time for some personal exploration and hobby development. A hobby is something you care about and enjoy but don’t have to be good at—the lack of pressure is part of the fun!
Maybe you don’t think of yourself as a baker, a gamer, or a reader, but somewhere not so deep down, you might well be. There are many ways to enjoy all hobbies: it’s a matter of finding a particular way that suits you. I didn’t think of myself as a gardener two months ago—I don’t even have outdoor space to grow—but now my indoor garden is sizable and flourishing. Here are some ideas for how to relax and have fun.
1. Find your kind of baking.
Here’s a beginner’s guide.
My go to sweets are cookies: chocolate chip, snickerdoodles, and peanut butter are some of my favorite super simple recipes. A little kosher salt or flaky sea salt sprinkled on top of many sweets before baking does them a world of good. Chilling the dough makes it easier to remove from the scoop or spoon. It also helps the cookies to keep their height while baking so they come out nice and thick.
If you want your cookies to be crisp on the surface and chewy on the inside like I do, watch them closely in the oven during the last few minutes. Learn to take them out just before the edges of the cookies begin to darken, even if they look a little wet in the middle: a minute of extra baking time matters a lot with cookies.
2. Find your kind of video game.
Here’s a beginner’s guide.
You don’t need a game console or a supercomputer. There are plenty of amazing and immersive PC games with minimal technical requirements. A game with great storytelling can become like a favorite movie or book: a world in our minds. While shooters and RPGs might be more well known, there are games out there for all stripes.
I enjoy single player games: strategy games like Into the Breach and games with superb art and music like Hollow Knight. My 23-year-old sister likes farm simulator games like Mother 3 and Harvest Moon, which have a relaxing ambience. Into the Breach and Hollow Knight are available on Steam; Mother 3 and Harvest Moon can be played on an emulator.
3. Find your kind of reading.
My reading life really picked up speed when I started reading Stephen King. If you can stomach horror, take a look at this beginner’s guide to his huge volume of work—I recommend starting with Different Seasons, which consists of 4 excellent (and violent and disturbing) novellas.
If you think you might enjoy science fiction, check out Dune by Frank Herbert (classic) or Leviathan Wakes by James S. A. Corey (modern). If you think you might enjoy fantasy, check out A Wizard of Earthsea by Ursula LeGuin (classic) or The Name of the Wind by Patrick Rothfuss (modern).
If you think you might be into modern stories about the Indian immigrant experience in America, take a look at Unaccustomed Earth by Jhumpa Lahiri. For stories about the Latinx immigrant experience, Drown by Junot Díaz. For stories about the Chinese immigrant experience, The Joy Luck Club by Amy Tan. If you think you might be into a novel about feudal Japan, check out Shogun by James Clavell.
All that said, I tend to prefer fiction. If you don’t, check out Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind by Yuval Noah Harari or Outliers: The Story of Success by Malcolm Gladwell, both well researched and easy to read.