9 calming projects to reduce stress | Cutdown on screen time and relax

9 distracting projects that don’t involve your laptop screen

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There’s something incredibly satisfying about creating something with your hands, especially when the world feels scary and uncertain. It’s like an off-switch, forcing you to be present and let everything else fade into the background, even just for a little while. And isn’t that exactly what we all need right now? So instead of refreshing your Twitter feed (again) or stress-cleaning your fridge (again), try tackling one of these creative projects. Maybe you’ll learn something new. Maybe it’ll turn into a regular hobby. Or maybe it’ll just give you an excuse to step away for a few minutes and breathe. 

Homemade Bath Bombs 

Bath bombs are back (say that three times fast). But you don’t have to run out to the mall to get in on the trend. They’re actually super easy to make at home—even kids can get in on the fun. If you don’t have bath bomb molds lying around (because why would you?), plastic Easter eggs work just as well. And feel free to get creative: Add dried flower petals, play around with different colors or essential oil blends, or drop in some hemp oil for an especially relaxing bath. 

DIY Terracotta Clay Hanging Planters

These terracotta-colored planters are simple enough for a non-DIYer to tackle but involved enough to keep your mind busy. You do have to order a few things ahead of time (air dry clay, for one), but the end result is worth it—these beauties wouldn’t be out of place in a home store in Brooklyn. The great thing about air dry clay is that it doesn’t require a kiln to harden. The bad thing is that it isn’t waterproof, so you’ll either want to fill the planter with an artificial plant or try wrapping the clay around a plastic container like this.

Tie-Dye Nails

Even if you can barely paint your own nails, you can do this nail art. Seriously—it’s basically foolproof. After applying a white base coat and letting it dry, randomly dot on more white nail polish and another color or two, then use a plastic bag to smush all the colors together. Remove the bag, add a top coat, and ta-da—tie-dye nails! While the nail barriers used in the tutorial do seem pretty handy for this, you can also just use Scotch tape. 

Homemade Yogurt

Sure, you could start a sourdough starter or bake banana bread. But why do what everyone else is doing? Homemade yogurt is just as easy (if not easier)—and just as rewarding. All you need is two ingredients (milk and a few tablespoons of yogurt) and a little focus and patience. The finished product tastes better than the store-bought kind and can be used in so many ways. Smear it on toast, toss it into pasta, or spoon it over roasted veggies. Strain it through a cheesecloth to get Greek yogurt. Strain it even longer to get labne. Then use the leftover whey to cook rice or soup. Just don’t forget to save a few spoonfuls for your next batch.

DIY Origami Wall Display

Origami can be incredibly relaxing, but having a million pieces of paper scattered around the house isn’t. That’s why we love the idea of turning them into wall art. For this DIY, you only have  to learn one technique, so once you get the hang of it, you can get into a nice meditative groove. Have kids at home? The folds are easy enough for them too. Or just make them think they’re helping by giving them a few simple, kid-friendly designs to do.

Structured Macrame Basket

Like origami, macramé is super therapeutic, allowing you to zen out while your hands repeat the same motions over and over again. It’s also come a long way since those terrifying owls of the ‘70s. This minimalist basket is a prime example, and it happens to be a great first macramé project, since it uses a single square knot and is pretty forgiving should you make any mistakes. Once you’re done, use it to store onions, hair accessories, keys, or other odds and ends.

Paint-by-Number Art

Paint-by-number kits are the new coloring books. They relieve stress and anxiety in much the same way but feel more like an art project. Not only do they come with everything you need to become the next Bob Ross (paints, paintbrush, canvas), but many newer designs are worthy of your wall (or your Instagram). Think Frida and RGB portraits, abstract floral designs, and modern scenes. Plus, there’s something so satisfying about matching up the paints with the outlines and watching your masterpiece come to life.

DIY Beaded Daisy Chain Bracelets

Throw it back to your summer camp days with these adorable daisy-chain bracelets. A little bit crafty, a little bit nostalgic, but still very much on trend, they’re sure to put a smile on your face. The daisies make them more advanced than your average friendship bracelets but not so advanced that you can’t listen to a podcast or zone out while you make ‘em. Don’t forget to string extras for your BFFs. It’s only right.

Homemade Skin Care

You know how you always read about how easy it is to make natural beauty products at home, but then never actually take the time to make them? This is your time. Start by choosing one or two to tackle—maybe a customizable body scrub, a rose water face mist, or a lemongrass-eucalyptus hand repair cream. Then pour into jars or bottles and label them (there are some good tips here), which will help ensure you actually use them. If you have extra time on your hands, double or triple the recipes and hand them out as gifts.

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