Veterans Can Try These 7 Great Hobbies to Release Stress

posted in Mental Health, Veterans

1Finding pleasure in daily life is important for people to feel validated. Hobbies are not just a space-filler for the times when there is nothing else to do. They can greatly enrich a person’s life and bring some joy and peace amidst the challenges. Stress is one factor that can play a role in relapse. It is better to mitigate stress whenever possible. The best hobbies in the world are ones people can enjoy alone or with others. There may be several hobbies that are of interest now that a person is not dealing with the ravages of addiction. Recovery is a special time to focus on finding new ways to spend time sober. One way to do that is through coordination of hobbies that will help veterans find hope and healing


Being outdoors is fun for many people, especially those who love to sit on the water with no outside noise or contact. One of the triggers for veterans can be noise that brings up symptoms of PTSD, constant stress, and anxiety. With places of peace, it can be healing to find quiet time away from the chaos. Fishing is not about the end game (unless it is a competition). The goal is to find rest and respite away from everything. There is also camaraderie if people go fishing together. Fishing trips in a cabin by the water can also be fun, exploring the wilderness. Find what works for now and give it a try.


One way to enjoy places away from everything is camping. It gets people out in nature but also presents other opportunities to be in the water, in a tent, and exploring the natural world. Outdoor enthusiasts can find this exciting, but people who have never tried it may enjoy it, too. Hiking, hunting, camping can all be ways to enjoy being with friends or family and even exploring solo treks. Set up a camping excursion with friends and see how it goes.

Work with Hands

Veterans often struggle with mental and physical challenges. One way to get past this is to try working with hands. Woodworking, needlepoint and other types of handiwork can be healing. It is meaningful to think about patterns, create something, and bring it to fruition. Pottery work on a wheel or glass work is popular, as well. Glass blowing has many opportunities to create beautiful pieces of art, learn a new craft, and connect with others who love doing the work. 

Creative Art

Working with the hands is one way to be creative, but art is another way to pursue something creative. Writing, photography, and coloring can be some ways people find healing to express themselves. Poetry and reading out loud or doing story slams are popular now where people share stories from their journeys. They cultivate the story, share it, and find some peace in knowing part of themselves is left out there in the world to help others. In the meantime, it also helps them. Art therapy is a therapeutic experience and works to help people heal specifically using art as the means.


Even the simplest instrument, a hand drum, can be accessible for veterans who are not musically inclined. Drum circles and therapeutic drumming are ways to engage with this type of musical experience. It is never too late to learn an instrument if that is the desire. Guitar, piano, and other instruments can be helpful in relieving stress and building confidence. This way also provides an expressive outlet for veterans who struggle with being able to share their experiences or want a hobby.


Exercise is a great means of releasing stress. Running with feet on the pavement helps people get out their pent up emotions. Make a goal to train with others for a 5K run or another similar goal. Fitness can bring down blood pressure, level out blood sugar, and keep stress in check. A veteran can continue to run on their own but meet with others who share their goal and make it their new hobby. 


Being in the dirt is amazing for healing. Emotional and physical challenges do not stop people from getting down into the dirt and planting herbs or flowers. Soil therapy is underrated because people can do this without a lot of work. There are community-based planting opportunities with small gardens and plots to join They can often gain the fruit of their labor with the food they grow. Knowing where food came from and that a person’s hands helped do it is often therapeutic, like witnessing the growth of something positive in the midst of the challenges veterans face in recovery.

Hope and Healing

Finding some hobbies to participate in with friends or by oneself is healing, but not always easy. It is hard to step into new programs, ideas, or avenues of exploration. Take time to try new things without judgment. Don’t worry about whether they are the right fit. It might be only a season that it works out (gardening) but come next season of life, maybe another hobby is more interesting. It is okay to fluctuate a little bit because eventually, that is how people find a hobby they can enjoy for a long time to come. 

Forge is a place to come and recover your life from addiction. We help you reimagine what is possible and create the life you’ve been dreaming of.

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