Rewarding activities

There are many fun and interesting activities you can try that also benefit living well.

Get creative

Creative activities can have a healing and calming effect on the brain and body. Research has shown that doing activities that achieve a result makes our brains release dopamine, which feels good and is good for us. Spending time on an activity you enjoy can make you feel happier and more relaxed, and improve your wellbeing.

Creativity provides a means of self-expression and has been shown to slow your heart rate, reduce blood pressure, boost the immune system and reduce stress.

Some ideas of creative activities to try are:

  • draw or paint
  • play an instrument
  • compose a song or poem
  • mix your own music
  • take photos
  • keep a journal
  • write down your ‘story’
  • complete a challenging puzzle
  • play card and board games
  • make a YouTube video

For more information, see: Head to health hobbies.

The Australian Defence Force (ADF) also runs an Arts for Recovery, Resilience, Teamwork and Skills (ARRTS) program.

Mindfulness practices

It’s important to make time for relaxation. Practices such as meditation or yoga can also be helpful for managing your thoughts and feelings. Work with a trained teacher or therapist to get the most benefits.

  • Meditation involves training your mind to focus and redirect your thoughts.
  • Yoga is a low-impact physical activity that includes postures and breathing techniques.

Other ways of practicing mindfulness include:

  • focus on breathing while lifting weights
  • listen to the lyrics of your favourite music
  • sit by running water
  • feel the warmth and energy of the sun
  • walk in the bush and notice the sounds of nature

Take an online mindfulness challenge for inspiration.

See also: Head to health - what helps us thrive

Do-it-yourself activities

Household chores have been found to be just as effective as running or working out when it comes to cutting your risk of heart disease and extending your life. Doing chores can lower stress, boost happiness, and protect against heart disease.

Consider some of the following activities:

  • tinker around the house
  • clean or restore a car/motorbike
  • redecorate a room
  • try woodwork or metalwork
  • garden or create a new space to sit
  • build a fire pit
  • create your own furniture
  • prepare a new or special meal

Your local men’s shed is a great place for men to find ideas and work on projects.

Volunteer work

Being a volunteer can bring meaning and purpose to your life, while increasing your self-esteem and wellbeing. Volunteering can also relieve stress, and alleviate symptoms of depression. Volunteering can have a positive impact on your community and improve your relationships.

Search for volunteer positions in your local area at Go Volunteer.

ReachOut has some important information to remember on how to look after yourself while volunteering.

Caring for animals

Animals can offer many benefits including:

  • company for when you’re feeling lonely or isolated
  • sense of purpose because they rely on you
  • joy and simplicity
  • exercise
  • routine
  • conversation starter for building relationships

You don’t need to own a pet to experience the benefits. You can:

  • offer to walk or spend time with a pet that belongs to a friend or family member.
  • volunteer at your local animal shelter or rescue organisation
  • become a pet sitter

Some animal-related organisations run specialised programs for veterans. Contact our Community and peer advisors for some programs in your area.

See also: Head to health pets

Follow us on social media

For more ideas and activities, follow us on Facebook or Twitter. You can also call us 24/7 on 1800 011 046

See also

  • living well

    Living well

    A range of services are available to the serving and ex-serving communities, and their families to stay healthy.
  • lived peer consultation

    Get support

    Open Arms has a range of specialised services to provide the support and care you need, with staff who understand veteran and military culture.
  • Apps and online resources

    There are many resources online that can help you. Open Arms administers a range of apps and websites to assist in maintaining mental and physical health of veterans and their families.