What is the medical term for semi-mindless activities to help reduce anxiety? ... such as gardening, mowing, cleaning... perhaps driving.

I recall that, maybe, the word asynchronous was part of the term * which based on present answers now seems less likely * .

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    $\begingroup$ I am not aware of a medical term but what's wrong with the non-medical term hobbies or interests ? $\endgroup$ – Chris Rogers Jan 15 at 5:20
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    $\begingroup$ @ChrisRogers perhaps it's because those don't really mean a way to reduce anxiety? I think the correct word is distractions $\endgroup$ – Ooker Jan 15 at 5:24
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    $\begingroup$ Displacement activity? $\endgroup$ – DevSolar Jan 15 at 10:04
  • $\begingroup$ Displacement activity would seem to be involuntary. $\endgroup$ – Randy Zeitman Jan 15 at 12:34
  • $\begingroup$ @Randy Could you elaborate on your original question? $\endgroup$ – user15909 Jan 15 at 16:20

I have read it mentioned as grounding- techniques or activities. Activities that pull you into the present, and, if possible, fulfill you by giving you the impression towards achieving a goal.


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I have not been able to find any term, medical or non-medical, which includes the word asynchronous, but to add to the answer by @user20460 there is the non-medical term hobbies.

Taking part in hobbies and other interests is recommended to anyone who suffers from anxiety and/or depression because not only can it provide a distraction, but it can also alleviate boredom which in itself can create or exacerbate anxiety - see also, Csikszentmihalyi (2000).

As NoPanic.org points out, you should...

do something that makes you happy. Every day should include a bit of ‘ME’ time. It may be losing yourself in a book, playing or listening to music or a self-pamper session. However busy life seems, you deserve that special time.


Csikszentmihalyi, M. (2000). Beyond boredom and anxiety (Vol. 721). San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.

  • $\begingroup$ Then I'm probably wrong about asynchronous. $\endgroup$ – Randy Zeitman Jan 15 at 12:37

What you are describing sounds a lot like aspects of Occupational Therapy (sometimes called Ergotherapy). Occupational therapy can include prescribed activity such as knitting (to meaningfully occupy your time) and is applied to a wide range of health related issues including anxiety.

Here is a dictionary definition of Occupational Therapy https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/occupational%20therapy

And here is a link to a definition from the University of British Columbia https://osot.ubc.ca/about/what-is-os-ot/

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    $\begingroup$ OT is not exclusively the prescription of activities like knitting and gardening, but this is just one aspect. Here is a recent scientific article describing these practices from the journal "Occupational Therapy International" ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22489029 For some less scientific articles about the use of such activities in OT psychcentral.com/blog/… newgradoccupationaltherapy.com/… $\endgroup$ – user2705196 Jan 15 at 18:22
  • $\begingroup$ Those kinds of tasks are part of Occupational Therapy. I'm looking for the term used to describe the kind of tasks that are useful ... 'semi-mindless' or Grounding Techniques as noted above, which is a perfectly good answer for me and I've marked it as such. $\endgroup$ – Randy Zeitman Jan 15 at 19:24

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