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25 Creative Hobbies To Try When Everything Is Awful And You're Not Okay

"I have a lot of bad days, but on my good days, I quilt."

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We recently asked the BuzzFeed Community to share the creative hobbies that got them through a difficult time. Here are some of the best responses:

1. Making adorable felt animals:

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"When I'm feeling particularly rough, I like to make little felt animals. I started with simple ones and progressed to a T-Rex! They're a tad time consuming but they're so fun and a really good way for me to relax when my anxiety is acting up. It only takes a few hours to make one and everyone in my family seems to appreciate them." —hannahc421f3c582

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2. Quilting:

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"Before I sustained a traumatic brain injury in 2004, I was a professional writer. After my brain injury, I lost my job, my home, and many relationships, and my ability to write as an outlet for me emotions and creativity. A few years ago, I discovered quilting. The mental work of quilting has turned out to be the best therapy to keep my mind sharp-ish. But more than that, creating quilts for friends, family, and strangers has made me a giver again. In so many ways, living with a brain injury means I live with limitations and a dependence on others. I have a lot of bad days, but on my good days, I quilt. When I give a quilt, I can convey all the love and care that my words can no longer convey." —jenabbasdej

3. Woodworking:

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"After my father died I took up woodworking. I had always painted before for stress relief, but this event required an even more intense activity to keep my mind occupied. I am now proud to say that I have made over half of my furniture and get compliments on my pieces every time someone new comes over!" —a4ab07625b

"My father committed suicide about two years ago. It was a total surprise, and completely devastated me. Within a few days, I decided to focus my grief and pain into creating a little memorial box which could accept written memories of my dad at his upcoming service. That was the project that kicked my DIY hobby into high gear. Two years later, I've made a table, a headboard, nightstands, a laundry hamper, and numerous other woodworking crafts. This hobby allows me to keep my mind and hands busy, and also makes me feel like my dad would be proud of me, as he was a frequent craftsman too." —emiliek2

5. Irish dancing:

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"I was going through a tough time after my home got broken into and I was beat up. A friend brought me Irish dancing one night in the local community center. It was the best thing that ever happened to me. I got to meet so many lovely people who have now become my friends. We go dancing every weekend. When you hear that lovely music, it just carries you away. It's really wonderful. You completely forget about all the bad things in life and the endorphins rush is magnificent!" —reitsealnic

6. Doing puzzles:

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"After splitting from my 6 year long relationship with my childhood sweetheart in my early twenties, I initially felt relief for a few months but then a couple months later the depression hit me....HARD! I spent most days moping about our student digs, until I decided to finally get around to putting a puzzle together — ironically given to me by my ex. It really helped me just get through the days and the sense of achievement when I finished it was awesome! I hadn't just spent several months being miserable; I'd finished putting together a beautiful artwork puzzle of the amazing Einstein! :)" —b4fed44c93

"Crossword puzzles. I went through a truly terrible bout of depression and anxiety one winter and my family actually stayed with my parents while I was in the worst of it. My mom has always had crossword puzzle books around the house, and she would sit with me sometimes and we'd work on solving them together. It got my brain focused on something other than my depressed thoughts, and helped me get through panic attacks. I didn't have to be physically active, which was good for when I felt so exhausted from the effort of just being." —jennyp4b17105ef

"I like puzzles like word searches and sudoku. I prefer to have actually booklets rather than apps, because it's nice to disconnect myself from technology every once in a while. Both were really good for coping with stress due to ACT/SATs. Or any stressful situation." —curlygirly6

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7. Drawing:

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"I signed up for a beginners community center drawing class. Everyone was there to try something new and had little expectations to be fine artists at the end. Plus the class helped me because unprompted, I have little desire to really dive in or complete projects on my own. At the end of the day I had something to be proud of that I made. Creating something and just getting out and doing something was a good start to moving out of my slump." —alexw4499b9e2e

8. Theater:

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"When mental illness began to consume my life, I turned to theater at my high school to keep me sane and alive by letting my creativity soar through this art. I remember, during my freshman year, I was hospitalized (for the first time) due to my extreme depression and anxiety. When I got out, all I wanted to do was go back to theater and feel better again. Theater rejuvenated me. Theater gave me a will to live. Theater was the reason that I didn't drop out of high school. Theater not only allowed me to express myself, but it pushed me to feel important. I would think things like, 'I can't go back to a hospital today because then I would miss a show tomorrow.' Silly and irrational, I know, but sometimes, it's the little things that can keep you away from wanting to make terrible, life-altering decisions." —rachelk4f0870d51

9. Or improv specifically:

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"I do improv comedy. I've dealt with depression and anxiety for as long as I can remember. In the beginning of 2015, I had hit a mental and emotional low and realized I needed to find a good hobby to occupy my free time. I had never done much theater in the past, but I had a love for comedy and figured I'd give improv a shot. To my surprise, I loved improv and was actually pretty good! Since I started, I've moved to a new city and am on my way to finishing improv classes at a comedy club here. I can't stress enough how much improv has helped my mental health. I can't be worrying about relationships or work if I'm in a scene, focusing on my partner and what I'm going to do or say next. Performing and improving as an improviser and making people laugh has given me confidence. It's connected me with a ton of great friends. I also have a WHOLE LOT more laughter in my life :-)" —annsmajstrla

10. Making friendship bracelets:

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"After a brain injury, I got a little obsessed with making friendship bracelets. It really helped me get some dexterity back in my hands and helped me to focus. My brain injury really affected me in simple little ways, it caused parts of my brain to essentially die; one of the major effects this had was on my coordination. I still have issues with it now, but teaching myself how to make friendship bracelets again really helped me regain some coordination that I had lost." —kierenm2

11. Cosplay:

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"I started cosplaying. Suddenly I was more obsessed with sewing/ordering costume pieces and focusing on character accuracy than anything else going on in my life. I felt free at conventions and life was easier when I was being someone else." —shelbyshinkle

"Cosplay! When my dad passed away when I was 7 years old, one of my friends tried cheering me up with anime, and from there I attended conventions and was able to see so many people acting as these fantastic characters. When I did my first cosplay I was nervous but with the help of some other friends, I realized I was able to shed myself for that time and pretend to be someone else. It really helped me step out if my own head space and I met some fantastic people because of it. It's like a community of people cheering you on, taking pictures, and having fun." —a4afb8f352

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12. Cross-stitch:

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"I asked my memere to teach me how to cross-stitch and it definitely helps me on those days I have extra anxiety and stress — I have to focus on counting stitches and patterns and it doesn't leave time for much else. I'll pop in a podcast or a TV show and the hours just pass by! (Until my fingers start to cramp haha.) Also, it makes birthday gifts a breeze — everyone loves even the most basic handmade stuff!" —mishilynn

13. Playing music:

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"Playing the clarinet. It requires a certain amount of skill, patience, and love to be able to play an instrument. Every minute I spent learning scales and arpeggios, working through the sheet music and analyzing different ways to breathe to control the sound throughout the piece was a minute I didn't spend worrying about my problems." —guerrerosofia063

"Learning to play the bass has slowly help me get over depression. I use to draw and was going to school for it, but after the death of dad, I stopped being creative altogether. My husband awould try to teach me how to knit and do other crafts but I felt like I would never take to anything again. Then, a few years ago, I decided that I was going to try to do something that I've always wanted to do as a kid, so I started taking bass lessons with a group of women over the age of 21. Not only I have something to strive for — to be a better bass player — but I've also been able to met an extended group of women that depend of me, not only as a bass player but a friend." —csmith526

14. Nail art:

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"Nail art saved my sanity! I am fighting a brain tumor, and I lost most of my mobility and energy. Nail art is something I am still able to do physically, and it's so much fun to see what I can create. I theme my nails for certain holidays (Christmas, St. Patrick's Day) or what's on television (Shark Week or The Walking Dead)." —christinacasbourned

15. Origami:

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"Origami. To me, it's the equivalent to knitting. Once you start to get the hang of it and get down a few basic folds, you can do it (mostly) without thinking. I've been doing this for almost four years now and it's always been helpful in times of stress. And the more you do it, the more complex your creations can become (just like with anything else). I don't know, I think that just makes it cooler!" —chloepowell2019

16. Learning a new language:

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"I learned a new language to deal with my anxiety in middle school. It helped me feel as though I had a way out of the situation I was uncomfortable in one day and kept me busy when I felt lonely or antsy during school." —thedelaneyjane

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17. Bullet journaling and hand-lettering:

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"I started bullet journaling and working on hand-lettering when my anxiety got really bad. Instead of thinking the scary thoughts I would write them down and try to make them as pretty as I could. Focusing on making the letters look perfect took my mind off the scaries! My bullet journal also gave me a space to track when I was feeling anxious or having panic attacks so I could look for patterns or triggers." —maggied45e6802e9

PS You can get ideas for tracking your mental health in your journal here and some tips for taking up hand-lettering and calligraphy here.

18. Making art from seeds:

Rafael Saldaña / Flickr Creative Commons / Via flic.kr

"Crop art! It sounds weird, but it's a thing in our state fair in Minnesota. You make pictures with dried seeds. My friends and I started doing it as a joke like six years ago, but now it's just something sort of meditative and fun to share with friends. I even brought home a blue ribbon for one of my pieces." —ashleyf33

19. Or beads:

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"Perler bead (also known as "melty beads") projects! I find it so calming to focus on one bead at a time and watch as a pile of pixels turn into something I recognize. Highly recommended for those with anxiety as well!" —rainbowfox17

20. Filming your own makeup videos:

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"This might sound cliche but making makeup related videos on YouTube makes me feel a lot of better. I haven't been in a good place for these few months and the only thing that keeps me going is playing with makeup and filming it for YouTube. It's just fun and it lets me to express anything I want to, despite the hellish editing process." —astarlightinthegloom

21. Carving bones:

grizzlymountainarts / Flickr Creative Commons / Via flic.kr

"I just recently started carving bones. While most people use electric stuff, I prefer using just a few basic files and sandpaper. It takes quite a long time and I always end up with blisters on my hands, but working that hard and long on a small item takes my mind off of any problems I'm going through." —ranija97

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22. Vector art:

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"I started doing vector art; it's one of the only things that I can just give my undivided attention to. Calms down all of my thoughts. Computer and software = $500, but peace of mind = PRICELESS." —bryannas4b6c2e52d

23. Baking:

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"I have a myriad of mental health issues (GAD, major depression, bi-polar II electric boogaloo) and I discovered that baking is the best thing to help me get grounded. I think it's because I'm focusing on something else, and there's something comforting in knowing that if I follow the steps, I'll have something to show for it. Plus, I always listen to good music while doing it. I also usually share whatever I bake and doing something nice for other people is a good way to take the focus off what you're going through." —clairew469e28fce

24. Making miniatures:

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"I used to make polymer clay miniatures. Mostly food, but also some complete dollhouse scenes. Depending on what you make, it can be incredibly complicated and require a lot of focus and it offered me a great way to get out of my own head for a while. Even though I don't make miniatures as often, I still watch tutorials on YouTube. They're so relaxing and interesting to me." —altheah47fc33615

25. Or just a little bit of everything:

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"I tried a lot of things when my depression was really bad. Tried learning guitar, started to make a skirt, I drew a lot. In all honesty, I couldn't find just one thing that helped me, I found a lot of things which helped me, especially if I wasn't in the mood to draw or anything I could just move onto the next one." —naomikeithbruceb

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