Crafters have long known that the creative process is so engaging that the rest of the world melts away when we’re involved in making. These are my go-to relaxing crafts and activities to reduce anxiety when the world feels overpowering. You, and the tweens and teens in your life, can use these ideas to help stay calm, and distract from stressful thoughts.
These creative ideas are useful for both teens and adults. They appeal to several age groups, so you can craft with a variety of people. Pick one or more that appeal to you right away, then try the others next time!
Of course, you (or your teen) might need some time alone. That’s just fine too. Use this list of relaxing crafts and activities to make by yourself or with someone else.
Note: As we’re all staying indoors these days, try making these crafts as a family activity or as a skype “playdate” with a friend. Connecting with others is important for stress relief in uncertain times. If you are experiencing serious mental or emotional struggles, please use one of these resources at the National Institute of Mental Health.
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Relaxing Crafts for Teens and Adults
The act of making and crafting with your hands can improve your mood and engage your brain, keeping stressful thoughts at bay. Try some creative play every day to consistently reduce anxiety levels.
- Nail Art – Fingernails are like itty-bitty canvases you can paint however you like. Experiment with colors, practice painting patterns like stripes and dots, and try some fun YouTube techniques. If you have a personal cutting machine like a Cricut, you can even cut some tiny vinyl nail decal accents.
- Coloring – The act of coloring is almost a meditation as you add color and shading to your pictures. If you don’t mind snark and a little swearing, my A Case of the Mondays Coloring Book digital version may be just right for saying what you’re feeling right now. You can also grab a free snarky printable coloring page from the book to try.
- Friendship Bracelet – Weave a friendship bracelet from embroidery floss, twine, or even paracord. Send to friend as a “thinking of you” gift to keep your friend bond strong.
- Paint Rocks – Painting river rocks or smooth stones is an easy craft limited only by your imagination. Use acrylic paints and paint markers to paint (see my favorite rock painting supplies) animals, inspiring phrases, and dotted designs, then hide them around your neighborhood to spread some good vibes.
- Building with Lego or Models – Focus on the smaller parts to build a specific project, or spend time free-building wherever your imagination takes you. Plus, if your teens are breaking out blocks or kits from their past, playing with their old favorites may add to the relaxing feeling.
- Draw Mandalas or Zentangles – Repetitive drawing of dots, lines, and curves is both mindful and effortless. Both are great ways to get caught up in drawing without worrying about a final product. It’s all about the relaxing process.
- Screen Time – Yes, screen time. There a plenty of coloring apps, building games, fashion design programs, and other creative online opportunities that, in moderation, can help distract from stressors. Even better if they can be played with friends to help connect with others.
Double-Duty Creative Calming Activities
These options are both relaxing crafts and activities to keep doing afterwards. First you make the craft project, then you get to use it later for extra dose of calm. Relax with any of these ideas before bed to help sleeping, or any time you need a brain break.
- Squishy Stuff– Ok, certainly not a technical term, but the act of making, sculpting, and squooshing with your hands can help reduce stress. Make homemade playdough, then get to molding and shaping. It’s not just for kids! Try these recipes: Extra-Smooth Play Dough or KoolAid Play Dough
- Make Bath Bombs – Easy to make with a few simple ingredients and silicone molds, bath bombs can be fizzy, sparkly, have a variety of scents, and can include skin-improving ingredients. Taking a bath with one of your handmade bath bombs is even more relaxing.
- Make a Stress Ball – A simple as a balloon, flour, and a sharpie. Fill, tie, and decorate to make a cute little craft you can squish and squeeze.
- Journal/Gratitude journal – make a journal from scratch or decorate a cover for something as simple as a spiral notebook. It’s another craft that does double-duty as both a project and an activity to help get rid of stresses.
- Essential Oil Diffuser Bracelet – Making a diffuser bracelet also has benefits beyond the craft itself. Design and string beads, and drop skin-friendly oils onto lava beads to soak in. Whether you believe in healing properties or just like the scents, smelling the oils will remind your teen to take deep calming breaths now and then.
- Knitting or Crochet – Working with yarn is great for keeping hands occupied. Knitting, crocheting, loom knitting, or even finger knitting can help calm fidgeting and clear your mind. When you’re project is complete, you can wrap yourself in your creation or give to friends or family.
Non-Crafty Calming Activities for Stress Relief
Be sure to include some of these other activities daily as well.
- Exercise/Physical Activity. Include yoga, hiking, biking, dancing, running, or other activity to keep your body healthy and burn nervous energy.
- Puzzles and Games. Try these games and activities for families.
- Eat well. It’s easy to forget meals in times of stress
- Sleep Well. Try to maintain a sleep schedule, even if falling asleep is difficult.
A combination of healthy activities and creativity will help you remain calm and keep stress in check.
Pin these Relaxing Crafts and Activities to reduce stress later: