Finding Refuge in Hobbies: 3 Tips

paint-1432766-mSometimes it can feel like a conspiracy.  On top of the business of being a patient (pain and fatigue are a full-time job), there’s so many stressful things (and people) to deal with.  Medical bills and the myriad of financial problems  sick people experience.  Difficult coworkers.  Relationship problems.  We all need refuge from the madness.  Yesterday, I returned to my safe place, painting.  

I don’t get to paint that often.  I can’t paint if I have any paper cuts (because they can lead to infections) and I sometimes don’t have the coordination or stamina to paint (because of my neuromuscular autoimmune disease, Myasthenia Gravis).  I finished my last painting in December 2012.  With this polar vortex winter, I decided to focus on something warm.  Something that would make me smile.  For me, painting allows me to travel to places I may never get to see.  It is an escape.

3 Tips for Making Your Hobby Work:

1959292_596782987073060_1651973263_n1.  Find something that makes you smile:  There are many things I can’t do anymore that I used to do (salsa dancing or cooking come to mind)  but I’m thankful for the things I’m still able to do.  I buy calendars every December and January of landscapes I would like to paint.  That’s how I stumbled on this picture from the calendar, Sunsets 2013.  I have no idea where this beautiful picture was taken but it makes me happy.

2.  Put your phone away:  Yesterday I realized that if I were to vicariously travel to wherever that sunset is, I had to escape the cyberworld that follows us wherever we go.  In our hyper-digital world, we share so much that there are few private and sacred moments .  I left my phone in my room and didn’t pick it up when it rang.  I tuned it out.

3.  Adjust your standards:  If I compare myself to the way I was before my autoimmune disease, painting would be stressful.  Yesterday I told myself that the objective was to have fun–not to create a perfect painting.  To that end, I cut off several inches from the 11 X 17″ watercolor paper making my painting 9.5 X 13.”  This is an odd size but it made the process of painting less intimidating and more fun.   My clouds weren’t as precise as they could be because I wanted to have fun listening to Jessica Sanchez and painting.

1554555_596783173739708_779824320_nI’m very happy with my finished product–it really makes me smile!  When times are hard, I look forward to getting lost in this sunset.  I also sell stationery of my paintings.  If my painting can make someone else smile, that makes me feel great too.

Readers Share Their Hobbies

On Facebook, I asked Fashionably ill readers what hobbies they use to fight stress.  Here were a few of their ideas:

  •  Scrapbooking
  • Making hand-made greeting cards
  • Yoga
  • Knitting
  • Writing
  • Shopping
  • Gardening
  • Reading–one reader even started a book club after getting sick
  • Listening to music
  • Praying
  • Soduku
  • Spending time with grandchildren
  • Playing with pets
  • Singing and/or playing instruments
  • Volunteering

What hobbies can help you manage stress?  Meet other warriors online–“like” Fashionably ill’s Facebook page: 


–Your Stylist, Jessica Gimeno



Hi there! I am a patient advocate, writer, and public speaker most well known for my TEDx Talk, “How to Get Stuff Done When You Are Depressed.” As someone who is juggling 5 illnesses: bipolar 2, myasthenia gravis, endometriosis, psoriasis, and asthma, I’m passionate about helping people who navigate life with both chronic physical & emotional pain. If you’re interested in hiring me to speak at your event, check out the CONTACT tab.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *