During the earliest stages of addiction recovery, the challenges of staying sober can be fairly easy to predict. People can expect to deal with physical and psychological withdrawal symptoms during the detox process. Most understand that it’s best to avoid high levels of stress, harmful relationships and environments, and other triggers that are likely to lead to relapse.
What’s often surprising, however, is that boredom can place a person at high risk of using. Engaging in hobbies is an important part of any balanced, happy life. However, for those recovering from addiction, they can be critical tools for promoting feelings of well-being, accomplishment, and peace.
With hobbies that you enjoy, you’re less likely to find your mind wandering towards substances and thoughts of using them. After all, a busy, active mind is a strong one.
Although your addiction sapped much of the joy and security from your life, it also filled your time. Once you’ve put drugs or alcohol behind you, you’ll need to find activities to fill the resulting empty space. Absent concerted efforts to rebuild and redefine your life, slipping back into old, dangerous habits can be all too easy.
Healthy hobbies beat back boredom. They also provide a reliable form of stress management. Moreover, they give you the opportunity to reclaim skills, talents, and activities that were once sacrificed to addiction. Having hobbies that you enjoy while recovering is also a great way to:
- Bolster and improve your physical and mental health
- Discover a rewarding career path
- Pay it forward by helping others
- Meet new, like-minded friends with similar values and interests
Having a hobby or two will promote continued learning, goal-setting, and vast improvements across the brain’s reward system. This is the same reward system that addiction effects by disrupting natural neurotransmitter release. As you make positive accomplishments and are duly rewarded by your brain in positive ways for doing so, you’ll actually be helping your brain regain a more normal, post-addiction way of functioning.
Examples of Sober Hobbies
When searching for hobbies, the one rule to remember is that your chosen activities should never place you in high-risk, high-stress environments. For instance, if you were a veritable card shark before addiction treatment, visiting a casino or club where alcohol is served or where illicit substances are readily available is a bad idea.
Instead, try focusing on hobbies that you had to let go of as your addiction gradually assumed control over your life. If you were a runner or a cyclist in the past, lace up your shoes and get out in the fresh air. Physically challenging hobbies will promote improvements in your:
- Respiratory and cardiovascular functioning
- Mood balance
- Weight balance or weight maintenance
Writing is another good way to fill your time both during addiction treatment and after it. In fact, many rehab counselors encourage clients to start journals. Doing so will allow you to work through complex emotions and problems on your own, discover new things about yourself, and document your journey to mental balance and wellness.
You can write when you feel discouraged, lacking accomplishment, or bored, or you can open your journal up during these times to read what you’ve written before. A written record of just how far you’ve come can be a powerful tool during times of craving and temptation.
If you didn’t have any interesting hobbies before, you certainly aren’t without options. Learning something new can be just as challenging and beneficial as picking up a lost skill.
Consider These Hobbies in Recovery
- Taking up an instrument
- Enrolling in a dance class
- Woodworking or carving
- Sewing, knitting, or crocheting
Many of the best hobbies will both fill your time and make you better able to care for yourself. With a diverse range of hobbies, you’ll soon be confident enough to write your own resume, prepare delicious meals, build your own furnishings, create your own home decor, or even tailor your own garments. Hobbies remind people of just how talented and resourceful they can truly be. They’re positive, life-affirming activities that rebuild self-esteem, and that often opens the door to positive, healthy, and mutually rewarding social connections.
Helping Others With Sober Hobbies
In addiction recovery, you’ll likely stumble across countless rehab professionals who were once addicts themselves. People who successfully complete addiction treatment are often so grateful for their new lease on life that they find ways to “pay it forward”.
In many ways, recovering individuals are uniquely qualified to assist in rehab environments. Their empathy and understanding make them best able to connect with new patients, and their own stories of success can be highly motivating. Seeing and speaking with someone who’s maintained their sobriety for years can be incredibly inspiring when you’re just getting started.
There are countless ways to help others while in recovery, even if you don’t want to work within the addiction treatment industry. You can volunteer at local shelters, assist in outpatient programs, offer help at food banks, or even spend time at an animal shelter. The mental health rewards of volunteering are outstanding. Volunteer work makes people feel both valued and valuable.
For those who need them, volunteer work can even open the door to high-paying job opportunities. If addiction has left you with unstable or unimpressive work history, proving yourself as a volunteer is an excellent way to get your foot in the proverbial door.
Whether you choose to fill your time with yoga, meditation, reading or crafting, healthy hobbies can play a hand in keeping your mind off of alcohol and drugs. These activities will give you the chance to meet and make friends who support your sober journey. They can also help your brain gradually return to a more balanced and normal manner of functioning across its reward pathways.
If you’re tired of living with the stress, loss, and general sense of defeat that addiction creates, we can help. Call 833-991-2955 today to learn more about our men’s rehab programs, and to find the right treatment and support options for your needs.