Recovery for both substance abuse and behavioral addictions can be extremely daunting but it can also be an extremely rewarding experience. If you or someone you know has recently completed the treatment phase, it is easy to worry about the upcoming obstacles but it is key to remember that you are not alone.
Friends, families, therapists, and counselors all play major roles in encouraging successful sobriety and preventing exposures that may lead to a relapse. Recovering addicts need emotional support from people close to them.
Even with all the support throughout your journey, it is a key part of recovery to find new, healthy hobbies and activities. The importance of hobbies in addiction recovery is an important aspect many people seem to undervalue.
Dangers of Boredom and Spare Time
Boredom and spare time are not beneficial to those in recovery and can lead to relapse. Boredom is considered the most common relapse trigger. It can lead to depression, irritability, anger, and isolation which can lead to an increase in cravings and thoughts of reusing.
The better way to look at boredom is that it is not a problem, it is, in fact, an opportunity. A chance to rediscover who you are and adjust to your changed circumstances.
Benefits of Developing a Healthy Routine
Incorporating healthy hobbies and routines are an excellent way for you to discover meaning and passion in life. Without a purpose, it is difficult to build the foundations of a successful recovery. You have already worked hard for your sobriety, so now is the time to find something new that can fill the void. Benefits from new hobbies and activities include:
Being able to unwind or relax
Learning new skills for both personal and professional purposes
Explore your creativity
Provide things to look forward to
Discover hidden talents
Making new friends
Finding Hobbies and Activities
Here, the goal isn’t to find something to do but to find something that’s right for you.
Recovery gives you incredible insights on the person you were before your treatment. It allows you to have a unique perspective on how you emerged sober, clean, and healthy.
Hobbies and Activities allow you to put those insights into practice and continue to self-discover while socializing with people that are also sober and clean.
Preferably, choose a hobby that isn’t related to your professional identity to help in completely disconnecting from the monotony of daily activities.
The first step in finding the right hobby is to make a list of things that used to interest you before all the drugs and alcohol smothered everything fun and exciting for you.
This is the perfect time to do all those things you wanted to do but never had the time.
Brainstorming Ideas and Questions To Ask
What did you enjoy before your addiction?
Are there any activities you abandoned that could bring you joy?
Are there any activities you always wanted to try?
What were your childhood interests? What made you stop?
Do you have any role models? Why do you look up to that person?
Use the internet to research new hobbies
Ask friends and families what their hobbies are.
Are there any local classes you are interested in?
Could you volunteer your time for a good cause
People have turned childhood hobbies and other activities into billion-dollar enterprises. So it isn’t such a stretch of the imagination to think that you may come to enjoy the past times and develop them into hobbies.
Suggested Hobbies and Activities
Looking for something fun, safe, and sober to do in your recovery? Give these activities a chance:
Research reveals that creative writing is beneficial for recovery and healing, for promoting overall well-being, for reducing stress, and for expressing thoughts and feelings about significant life challenges, trauma, and mental health issues.
Focus on what you hope to gain from staying clean. Visualize the life you want, write it down, and keep it close. It will help remind you of why you are choosing to abstain from drugs while at the same time rewire your brain from an anxious state to a more grounded and peaceful serenity.
Some of the ways that creative writing has helped people in recovery include:
Organizing seemingly chaotic thoughts
Identifying thoughts that are too difficult to express out loud
Developing a new hobby or interest that would have never been explored otherwise
Providing clarity to underlying issues and concerns
Decreasing trauma symptoms
Lessening symptoms of depression and anxiety
Gaining more trust and therapeutic alliance with treatment
The therapeutic power of artistic expression is well-known and proven.
The most important element in cooking is the nature of self-care it introduces in a subtle easy-to-understand way. You need to cook and eat healthy foods to stay healthy.
If you are among the 78% of Americans who don’t know how to cook, you can turn it into a hobby and learn from enrolling in a class at your local community center or even watching YouTube tutorials. Ever wondered why we invented the term ‘comfort food’? Few things can compare to the comfort food provides.
Discover all the pleasure of healthy food and provide your body and soul with the much-needed nourishment after years of mistreatment.
Regular exercise at the beginning of recovery can be instrumental. Chateau Recovery, like many treatment centers, incorporates exercise into our programs for this very reason.
According to the publication Mental Health and Physical Activity, patients in substance abuse treatments who engage in physical exercise experience various beneficial effects such as improved overall health, sense of accomplishment, improved strength, and increased self-confidence.
Of course, regular workouts alone cannot replace counseling and therapy, so physical activities must be incorporated into the treatment program instead. Regular exercise and leisure sports are effective because they deliver a sense of pleasure similar to those acquired from controlled substances.
Exercise in recovery helps to reintroduce healthy endorphins
Benefits include stress reduction, better sleep, improved mood, increased energy, a stronger immune system, relapse prevention
Meditation and Yoga
In some studies, meditation has been found to lower blood pressure, improve heart health, and may even boost the body's immune system. After years of damage to the body from substance misuse, meditation in recovery may help facilitate the physical healing process
Yoga is increasingly being used in substance abuse treatment programs and throughout recovery to help prevent relapse, reduce withdrawal symptoms and drug cravings, and provide a healthy outlet to cope with potential triggers and daily life stressors.
Painting, Drawing, or Photography
In a nutshell, art therapy helps patients express their emotions, improve self-esteem, manage addictions, relieve stress, improve symptoms of anxiety and depression and cope with recovery.
Art Therapy for addiction recovery is normally done in a group setting where clients can learn to focus on their work while in the presence of others. ART Therapy is not limited to painting and drawing, however, there are many forms of art. Some other types of art used therapy are:
Listening to Music, Singing, or Playing Instruments
Music is widely used to enhance well-being, reduce stress, and distract patients from unpleasant symptoms. Although there are wide variations in individual preferences, music appears to exert direct physiologic effects through the autonomic nervous system.
Researchers have also recently discovered that music improves the body's immune system function, increases the amount of dopamine that is produced in the brain and reduces stress by decreasing the amount of cortisol your body produces
Gardening is a therapeutic hobby as it connects the addict with Mother Nature. If you have a green thumb and feel an attraction to everything green, go ahead and take up gardening.
Being outdoors gives you back the sense of peace that drugs and alcohol took from you. The activities involved in setting up a garden and caring for the plants provide an alternate focus to distract your mind from cravings.
You can divide tasks into manageable goals that you can work with.
Achieving each goal gives you the feeling that you are in control of your life, positive feedback that motivates you to stay on a path to recovery.
Sober outdoor activities can help you stay on track. Connecting with the outdoors reduces stress, depression, and anxiety; all known risk factors for relapse. Outdoor activities can increase your sense of well-being as you enjoy nature either on your own or with other health-minded people. There are physical, mental, emotional, and social benefits.
Some of our favorite physical hobbies include
Paddle Boarding: a combination of canoeing and surfing, paddle boarding is performed while either standing up or kneeling on the specifically designed board. A person uses an oar to propel himself/herself on water. As simple as it may sound, paddle boarding is a physically demanding activity; it is also easy to learn and master.
Horseback Riding: an excellent benefit of horseback riding is that the patient can cover long distances in a relatively short time. While the rider appears to do nothing but sitting on the horseback, the activity is effective for training both upper and lower body muscles. Hand-eye coordination is also crucial to maintain control of the horse. It takes a good deal of concentration to stay on course.
Kayaking: another leisure sport to consider is kayaking, which allows patients to enjoy and interact with nature while training to improve their stamina. Kayaking requires good reflexes and the ability to remain calm under pressure.
Swimming: it is safe to say that swimming pools are available in just about every town, so patients should not have difficulties finding one. Swimming is a minimum-impact exercise, which means the risk of injuries is minimal without reducing the intensity of the physical exercise.
Walking/jogging: the easiest form of physical activity to do is jogging, preferably done in an outdoor While running on a treadmill offers more or less the same physical effects, walking or jogging in a public park offers an additional benefit of having interaction with nature and people. While it does not seem like much, the social encounters patients possibly have in an outdoor environment offer therapeutic benefits on its own.
Most non-profit organizations welcome anybody who wants to join and get involved in voluntary activities all around the country. The work does not have to be related to substance-abuse issues, but it can be about anything else such as animal rescue, climate change, education, equality, sports, technology, etc.
For recovering addicts, being a volunteer for a good cause is often as important as doing the work itself. The activity helps them to prevent relapse, and at the same time, it benefits other people or organizations. Here are some of the easiest examples:
Volunteer at a charity auction
Help register people to vote
Teach computer lesson to the elderly
Help take care of animals in the shelter
Donate stuffed animals to children treated in a local hospital
Paint over graffiti in the neighborhood
Organize a reading event for children at the local library
Organize car wash and donate the profits to charitable organizations
Read books to visually impaired children
For those who have been sober for quite a while, doing some voluntary work to help others recover can be a very rewarding experience. Telling personal stories about drug use, its negative effects on the family and the difficult journey to recovery is not only therapeutic for others, but also for the story-tellers.
Voluntary work in which patients remain around other addicts is not going to be easy; it takes courage and confidence to be able to speak out about personal experiences from the past. It is not recommended for new patients.
Make New Friends
To sustain long-term recovery, you will need a robust support system. A big part of that system will be your sober friends. All the friends you currently have are likely addicts themselves. Safeguard your sobriety and drug-free life and cut off those ties.It is now an excellent time to make friends that have embraced your new lifestyle and are living happily with their decision.
Recovery doesn’t have to be lonely. Friends motivate you to meet up with a social group, have coffee, share your experiences, celebrate achievements, and generally have a jolly old time.
Spending time with them also helps you brush up on your social skills and become comfortable being around other sober people.
Recovery is Long Term
Recovering from an addiction is a lifelong process. Often, addicts feel like they are playing catch up with the rest of the world because of all the wasted opportunities, making them feel anxious, driven, and resentful of others.
Ultimately, this will unearth long-ago memories, and the emotions you tried so hard to banish to the furthest recesses of your mind with booze and drugs will come rushing back.
Since you are no longer under the influence, there is nothing to numb the pain, and it feels like the unfortunate event just happened a second ago. You start feeling overwhelmed and begin to doubt your every move- including sobriety.
Once this happens, it is crucial to take a step back. Seek the advice of a qualified professional, take it easy on yourself, and give yourself a timeout.
BONUS: 10 Most Popular Hobbies in the World
Downtime is important. We all need it, and many of us are on a mission to find more of it and figure out just how to spend it. Whether you’re looking for a new hobby, or you want to see if your favorite pastime made our top 10 list, we’re sharing the ten most popular hobbies enjoyed around the world.