The #1 Most Stress-Reducing Hobby Ever

Jul 9, 2024 | Thriving | 0 comments

A few years ago, I stumbled upon what has become a regular practice for me. I refer to it, tongue in cheek, as a hobby, but honestly it may look more like obsession. At least it’s a healthy one, involving no mood-altering chemicals, empty calories, or a high risk of injury. I take it seriously, though, and once gave a short speech in Toastmasters arguing that the Olympic committee should consider it as a new entry.

My obsession? 

Floating. On some sort of buoyant device. On some body of water. 

The ideal set up: the bay with a temp of about 74 degrees, a blow-up pool float with a short boogie board underneath for extra support, and a rope tied to a dock, a boat, or a rock. I lie face down with all 4 limbs draped in the salt water, and I just zone out.

Being in nature, the support and gentle rocking, the physical comfort of it all is such a balm to my often overscheduled life and the worries and responsibilities of being awake and aware these days. Plus, by necessity I am cut off from electronics, which I really need sometimes.

I’ve honed my practice over time. I acquired a used wetsuit at a thrift shop and surfer booties as a Christmas gift, which extend my floating season. (I’ll get in when the water temperature is anything over 60, which in southern Massachusetts means mid-May through mid-October.) I’ve tried different forms of water: rivers, lakes, ponds, swimming pools, and even hot tubs. 

With more shark sightings here, I keep my floating to the shallow water now. To enhance drifting off in my mind but not out to sea, I find a way to anchor myself—tying up to a rock on a riverbank, to the stern of an anchored motorboat, or to a bag of rocks below me in the water.

This year, floating has become more of a priority. I now see how much I need true downtime with complete physical destressing. It’s an odd hobby perhaps—other adults seem to prefer actual swimming or lounging on the beach—but floating is the perfect hobby for me. I only wish I’d discovered it earlier. I sure could have used it during med school, residency, and early parenthood.

What’s your #1 most stress-reducing hobby ever? Do you have one? If not, could you experiment with one this week?


Diane W. Shannon


Diane Shannon is an award-winning writer, author, and coach. Since leaving practice as a primary care physician due to burnout, she has worked to support physicians in achieving their personal and professional goals and to highlight the changes needed to reduce burnout, improve career satisfaction, and protect the bidirectional healing power of the patient-physician relationship.

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