A Guide to Finding New Hobbies During Recovery
A successful addiction treatment program encompasses more than helping individuals stay sober. Drugs and alcohol can consume all of the time and energy of those who battle with addiction, and removing these substances by residing in sober living homes or facilities can leave an empty place in the lives of the newly sober.
Achieving a full recovery and avoiding relapse for the long term often require other enjoyable, purposeful, and fulfilling activities to take the place of addictive substances. This guide will help you understand the purpose of hobbies during recovery, provide some popular and engaging activities many people find helpful, and cover a few common things to watch out for during this transition.
Why Are Hobbies Important During Recovery?
Comprehensive treatment programs offer a full spectrum approach to wellness. With group therapy for friends and family and safe, clean, and sober housing available, a unique opportunity to change lives for the better becomes reality. A recovery community provides endless opportunities for events, classes, and exploring new activities in order to foster a healthy lifestyle.
How Do Hobbies Help with Addiction Treatment?
Offering healthy alternatives to drug and alcohol addiction is a fundamental part of sober living programs. Experience has shown that focusing on new hobbies offers these benefits to those in recovery:
Making New Brain Connections
When alcohol or drug use becomes connected by the brain with feeling good, anything that brings that connection to mind can become a “trigger.” By engaging in hobbies that stimulate the brain and enhance natural positive feelings and feel-good chemicals, hobbies can build new connections to replace those of addiction. A new hobby or activity which has no association with past substance use can re-train the brain to find pleasure from another source.
Building New Healthy Friendships
Participating with a group or finding a new social circle that is not centered on substances opens the door to new relationships and a chance to interact with friends and practice social skills without the clouding effects of drugs. Working on a project or being creative in the company of others encourages teamwork, trust, and mutual enjoyment. Finding new hobbies is often key to building new sober relationships.
Preventing Loneliness and Depression
Sometimes, in an effort to avoid situations and people who might trigger cravings, those in early recovery have a tendency to isolate themselves. So many activities are associated with their addiction that these individuals become more and more focused on what they cannot do, rather than what they can accomplish without the burden of addiction. This is sometimes called “Dry Drunk Syndrome.”
Being alone too much can increase the likelihood of developing depression, which is a risk factor for relapse. By enjoying new hobbies and new environments, social interaction can begin slowly, and the house-bound person can emerge into a new world of possibilities.
Combating Addictive Thinking Patterns
Hobbies help your brain escape from circular, addictive patterns of thought. Cravings and daydreams about drug or alcohol use can happen whenever the mind is left unoccupied. Breaking through these thoughts is easier when you can turn to your new hobbies and find motivation, reward, and stress relief in a way that supports your recovering mental health.
Restoring Self-Esteem and Confidence
Low self-esteem, guilt, regret, and feelings of low self-worth are common for recovering individuals. Addiction is a disease that damages not only the physical body, but the mind, spirit, and support systems of the addict. By finding ways to express creativity, regain physical strength, and reach goals and milestones, those in recovery can see the tangible, visible signs of their full potential.
Developing Hobbies into Rewarding Jobs
Learning how to do things that motivate and inspire you can also provide an opportunity to turn your natural abilities and interests into a new way to make a living. You can create art or useful items for sale, repair or restore used vehicles and furniture, or teach classes in your favorite sport or activity as your skills grow. Exploring new hobbies might open the door to a life full of satisfying purpose and self-sufficiency.
Hundreds of Hobbies to Choose From
Recovery can be a journey of self-discovery and new awareness. There may be things you have always thought were interesting but out of reach, either physically or financially or because your addiction was taking your health and your pocketbook down to rock bottom.
From the security of sober living homes and focused treatment centers, you can embark on a new adventure that is now within your reach. Consider some of these healthy hobbies and affordable adventures:
- Explore Local Culture and Cuisine. Having lunch, dinner, or coffee at a local non-alcoholic destination can become a favorite pastime and a way to reconnect with the brighter side of your town or city. Museums and historical landmarks are favorite places to explore.
- Organize sober events. Organize weekly dinner parties, game nights, or theater excursions which are focused on fun in a safe and sober environment. Get together a group to attend a sporting event, concert, or charity walk. By taking the lead, you not only gain benefits for yourself but provide alternative sober outings for friends.
- Join an organized sport. While some bar-sponsored teams and events can be challenging for those in recovery, many sports clubs are focused on wellness and performance rather than partying. A team sport or cross-country running group provides friendly competition and recognition for personal progress.
- Volunteer to help others. If self-esteem and regrets are holding back your recovery, volunteering can provide a concrete way to give back to others and restore feelings of self-worth by making a positive difference in the lives of others. Explore local volunteer groups for a quick connection.
- Educate yourself and expand your skills. Hobbies can sometimes be very productive. A desire to learn a new language, master a skill, or learn a trade can become your focus and provide the tools needed to change your direction. Go to the library or register for a class at a local vocational college, and use that free time to acquire the skills that will carry you into new fields and opportunities.
- Express your creativity. Cooking, crafting, woodworking, car restoration, painting, pottery, and music all take the brain into a space where time flies by and beautiful or useful things are created. These activities calm cravings and keep the hands busy. Putting yourself into creative work is a healing experience for many people.
- Reconnect with nature. Start hiking, camping, picnicking, or having an evening bonfire to re-establish your connection with the natural world and ground yourself from the stress and bustle of city life. Boating, sailing, kayaking, or surfing bring hours of enjoyment on the soothing waters.
- Practice meditation, relaxation, and yoga. While not everyone connects with these activities, for many people these ancient techniques of centering the mind and body are extremely helpful. Even if you don’t consider yourself the type of person who does Tai Chi, a relaxation and stretching program will offer many of the same benefits and get you started toward focused relaxation techniques.
Hobbies and Habits to Avoid During Recovery
There are some factors which you should be aware of as you seek out new hobbies and activities after leaving a sober living facility or program. Making time to keep your commitments to treatment, including attending support groups and 12-step meetings, should remain a priority.
Assuming you are keeping your outpatient appointments and attending meetings, you will remain well connected with your recovery community. Some common problems to avoid include:
- Comfort eating, binge eating, or other food replacements
- Indulging in daydreaming or fantasizing about drug use or “the good old days”
- Boredom, which is a primary cause of relapse
- Resentment and obsession about avoiding triggers and challenging environments
- Giving up the search for new activities because the first attempt is not a good fit
- Addiction substitution, which is replacing the addiction to substances with an addiction to exercise, romance, gaming, gambling, or another activity to the exclusion of all others
Building a New Future with Healthy Hobbies and Activities
Starting your journey into recovery at RECO Institute’s sober living homes will prepare you to launch into the future you want and deserve. Our programs and residences offer a total healing approach that repairs not only the physical effects of addiction but the toll substance abuse takes on the mind and spirit as well.
Every individual who chooses one of our luxurious residences in Delray Beach, Florida has a wealth of opportunities to join in organized activities or to connect with resources and opportunities that will help them take their lives to the next level. Breaking free of addiction will allow your true self to emerge and accomplish more than you ever thought possible. Contact us today to start your personal transformation.