According to the National Institutes of Health, people with no outside interests, hobbies, or ways to relax may be unable to handle stressful situations because they have no outlet for their stress. If you're thinking about starting a new adventure or hobby, you might just find your answers here. So sit back, relax and start lowering your stress level.

According to the National Institutes of Health, people with no outside interests, hobbies, or ways to relax may be unable to handle stressful situations because they have no outlet for their stress. If you're thinking about starting a new adventure or hobby, you might just find your answers here. So sit back, relax and start lowering your stress level.


How to start a collection
A collection is generally considered three or more of any object. Start with what interests you and make a list, narrowing it down to your top choices. Then decide what type of collection you would like to have - a functional collection - like clothes, shoes, or accessories from one label; an object - like monkeys - that can be stuffed animals, on clothing or in books; or a collection that increases in value and has to be kept in original packaging - like action figures or comic books.

With your list of favorites in-hand, decide how much you can spend on a collection. Educate yourself on the potential cost of the items by researching books, magazines and the web on the subject. Search for items of interest on e-Bay to see what's available and how much the items cost.

Next, determine where you will display your collection. Do you need shelving? Book cases? Be sure supplies and materials are included in your budget. Now that you've covered the bases, start collecting. And if you decide to collect monkeys, just wait for your birthday or the holidays to see how creative your friends and family can be in getting you monkey-themed presents. Isn't that all part of the fun?


How to start a blog
If you enjoy writing and sharing information, blogging might be just the thing for you. What is a blog?

The definition according to Webopedia is: (n.) Short for Web log, a blog is a Web page that serves as a publicly accessible personal journal for an individual. Typically updated daily, blogs often reflect the personality of the author. If blogging is in your future, decide what you want to blog about. What do you feel passionate about? Have experience with? Read blogs about the subjects that interest you. Note how they approach the subject and how often they post.

Where to post your blog? There are lots of hosting sites - like blogger.com and wordpress.com - that are popular, free and easy to use. WordPress.com also offers advanced services for a fee - like your own domain name and unlimited users. Decide whether your blog will be private or public - that will help you choose the right venue. Whatever route you choose, the site will offer free blogging software, pre-made templates, instructions and push-button publishing.

Then, start blogging. Take a look at your blogs and make any adjustments necessary to the layout or style. Before you know it, you'll be regularly blogging on things that interest you - with accompanying photos and videos, of course.


How to start a book club
Book clubs are back in style since Oprah started hers, so why not join in the trend? You can join a global book club, like Oprah's, or you can do it locally with friends, neighbors or anyone who enjoys reading.

There are a lot of logistics involved, such as deciding how many members, what types of books to choose, where members will meet, and who leads the discussions. Start with two or three people who already have a connection. Set the meeting time (such as the last Tuesday of every month) and ground rules (who does what). Invite new members by posting flyers for the group where you work, your place of worship, or the library.

The meeting place can be a local caf, library meeting room, or the living room of the host. You also can select a meeting spot based on the local cuisine of the book. Using best-seller lists from the New York Times or USA Today is one way of selecting titles - so is group input or allowing the host to choose.

Who will moderate the discussion? This can also be solved by a host-based solution or selecting a group member on a rotating basis. Once logistics are out of the way, you can enjoy the book and the discussion to follow.


How to photograph children and pets
Who can't use some professional guidance when it comes to snapping photos? Photographing children and pets require a similar skill set, said David Sutton of Sutton Studios, because they both lack self-consciousness. "The most compelling portraits show people (or pets) who aren't thinking about being photographed - enabling the photographer to capture real life moments." Following Sutton's tips below will help you capture just the right picture.

Both children and pets need a bit of time to become comfortable with their surroundings. Once they are at ease you'll see the shyness lift and real spark come out. When a child shares the spotlight with his or her favorite dog or cat, the portrait instantly becomes more about the relationship and less about being photographed. Shoot the interaction from all angles. Move yourself around to get the most out-of-the-ordinary perspective. Get in close to fill the frame with faces. Try creative, interesting angled shots to capture their relationship. Try different, original shots to fill the frame in fun ways. Get down to their level - don't be afraid to roll on the ground. Alternately, experiment with higher levels too. Stand on a chair and look down. Have fun and take breaks. Both pets and children have limited attention spans, so it's wise to work in short bursts, punctuated by play breaks rather than marathon sessions. Then bring on the toys. Allow your child and pet to play around for a while and keep your eye to the viewfinder to grab those candid shots. Just keep clicking. Children and dogs quickly change their expression and move around fast. Don't expect to get the best picture on your first try. Take lots of pictures - several posed and candid pictures of the same scene - you can always delete the rejects. And photographing your pets and children in black-and-white adds a fascinating interpretation of the scene and subjects that will seem timeless.

Marguerite Marsh is a freelance writer and winner of the Ohio Public Images 2008 Print Journalism Award of Excellence for her Columbus Parent article "Motherhood Redefined and Transformed by Treacher Collins Syndrome." In addition to writing about health and wellness, families, relationships and pets, Marguerite writes the Pet Blog, Heavy Petting.