The things you already love to do come with some serious health perks

Like knitting, crocheting, and ceramics. Kathleen Hall is the CEO of the Stress Institute in Atlanta… and she says, repetitive activities trigger our relaxation response. And what makes knitting, crocheting, and ceramics even better is that they require what physiologists call “two-handed, bilateral, cross-body hand motions.” To put that simply: They force us to use both hands simultaneously. And that takes a lot of brainpower - so you have less mental energy to stress out. In fact, knitting is so effective at reducing anxiety, it’s being used as a treatment for patients with post-traumatic stress disorder.

Another activity with great health benefits is cooking. According to the Johns Hopkins, people who regularly cook meals, eat about 130 fewer calories daily than those who don’t. And home cooked meals also tend to have fewer carbohydrates and less sugar.

If your passion is gardening: Studies show it helps alleviate symptoms of depression. The Norwegian University of Life Sciences conducted a study in which people who had been diagnosed with depression spent six hours a week growing flowers and vegetables. After three months, the participants had measurable improvements in their symptoms. And even three months AFTER the gardening program ENDED, their moods continued to improve!