As the saying goes, there is only one thing you have to change when you get sober – everything. This is especially true after rehab when it comes to learning how to have fun without the use of drugs and alcohol.
People in drug and alcohol recovery often learn the acronym “HALT” as a way to prevent relapse. If you are Hungry, Angry, Lonely, or Tired, watch out! You may be susceptible to relapse. Perhaps the powers that be should add a “B” to at the end of that acronym … a big “B” for boredom. Being bored is a major trigger for people in recovery.
After years of drinking and drugging, many people in recovery can begin to feel bored after a few months of sobriety. Life begins to stabilize. There are no more of the super high highs and really low lows that once accompanied addiction. Instead, there is a growing sense of normalcy, which is usually accompanied by a dreadful feeling of monotony. Living a “normal life” is unfamiliar to those in recovery, who are accustomed to chaos and craziness. Indeed, being bored is a dangerous place to be for someone in recovery.
The antidote to boredom is joy. Seeking pleasurable, healthy activities is essential to the former user. A feeling of contentment and well-being is a sure-fire way to stay strong in recovery and avoid a relapse.
Finding this type of happiness is as easy as finding a hobby. Sober hobbies help you from getting bored and they show you that you don’t need alcohol or drugs to entertain yourself.
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Here are seven hobbies to help you stay sober:
1. Exercise. Don’t think exercise is a hobby? Think again. There are hundreds of different types of fun physical activities people enjoy as an alternative to using drugs or alcohol. The key to taking up exercise as a hobby is to find a sport, game, or activity you enjoy. A hobby should never feel like a chore. If you hate to run, don’t take up running as a hobby! However; you might find that you have loads of fun cycling, kayaking, doing yoga, playing tennis, swinging a golf club, hiking, or swimming. Remember, exercising can not only be fun, it improves your well-being and relieves the tension of boredom. Plus you do not have to wait until after rehab, you can start your exercise routine while you are in rehab. Getting plenty of exercise releases feel-good chemicals in the brain and promotes sobriety.
2. Photography. There is beauty all around us. Many people who have given up an addiction take up photography as a hobby to capture that beauty on film. Photography does not have to be an expensive hobby. Although some people invest in costly equipment, taking up photography can be as easy as shooting fun pics from your cell phone. The great thing about having photography as a hobby is that you can share your photos with others. Everybody loves a beautiful picture, and showing off your snapshots to friends and family is a great way to connect with the people you care about.
3. Volunteering. Here’s another popular recovery expression, “We only keep what we have by giving it away.” Being of service to others brings joy. There are an infinite number of ways to volunteer your time and help people in need. You can volunteer at hospitals, veterans’ organizations, children’s homes, or even treatment centers. You are sure to steer clear of boredom when you are busy making the world a better place.
4. Cooking. You have to eat, right? Why not become a five-star chef in your own kitchen? There is something very exciting about experimenting with new foods and finding tasty treats the whole family can appreciate. This is another hobby you can start while you are in rehab. Many former users come to appreciate the joy of cooking in their sobriety. Some even plant their own gardens and prepare the food they have grown themselves. Look at that, two hobbies in one – gardening and cooking … what fun!
5. Reading. Reading is a pleasurable activity you can enjoy alone or share with others. Whether you enjoy romance novels, self-help books, or true crime novellas, you can find joy in the pages of a book. Many people in recovery invite friends and family members to join a book club where everyone reads the same book and meets once a week to discuss what they have read. Aid in Recovery has an alumni book club where you can have a book about recovery sent to you and share the books about recovery you like to read. Learn more about our Alumni Book Club and find a book you like on our website.
6. Games. Playing games is tons of fun. Whether you like video games or something more traditional, like checkers and other tabletop gaming, there are numerous options for sober people to choose from. Many people in recovery get on sites like Meetup, where you can connect with other gamers and meet regularly to engage in good old-fashioned clean fun. You can also join a chess club or Scrabble group and even start competing in tournaments. Playing games brings out the kid in you – and kids know how to have endless hours of fun without ever getting bored.
7. Crafting. Many of those in recovery take up crafts as a hobby when they get sober. Why? Because creating artwork of any kind brings joy to the soul. Craft stores like Hobby Lobby and Michael’s offer thousands of craft ideas for those who want to find happiness in the art of creation. Woodworking, painting, sculpting, sewing, scrapbooking, and drawing are just a few of the many craft ideas that may come to mind when you think about crafting as a sober hobby.
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Remember, recovery is supposed to be fun! Get out there and find a hobby. When you do, you’re sure to increase the level of joy you experience in your sobriety. You may have to try out a number of different activities until you find the hobby that is right for you, but don’t give up. Finding out how you have sober fun is the fun of staying sober!