One of the best methods, when moving into and sustaining sobriety, is to pick up new, healthy hobbies. Not only does it help keep the mind and body busy, but it replaces dangerous habits with positive ones. However, it takes time and dedication to stick to any new habit. The common saying is it takes 30 days, but that’s an average—it varies by person, and it depends on the hobby or habit you’re starting.
No matter what hobby you begin, make sure it’s far out of the realm of any activity related to addiction. For instance, you may love trivia, but if you start attending trivia matches at your local bars and are battling alcohol addiction, you’re tempting yourself. It’s important to separate yourself from the people, places, and environments that are connected with your addiction.
Some people find comfort in a hobby they used to love but lost or gave up in the throes of addiction. It can be healthy to return to hobbies you used to enjoy, but it’s also a good idea to branch out and explore brand new hobbies. As you consider hobbies, also think about their propensity for negative addiction tendencies. For instance, tech addiction is a very real and dangerous habit. If you think you have an “addictive personality,” keep in mind that a hobby that involves tech can swap one addiction for another. Also bear in mind that too much technology can lead to increased anxiety and depression (studies show that time on social media is linked to depression).
Here are five sober hobbies to think about as you plan a new, healthy pathway:
Volunteer at an animal farm or shelter
Numerous studies have shown the positive benefits of equine therapy, animal therapy, and simply being around animals. Petting animals, such as if you volunteer at a local animal shelter, has been shown to decrease depression and anxiety. Every region has some type of animal-related volunteer opportunity. Some provide training programs while others are much less formal. If you’re naturally drawn to animals, it’s a great fit. If not, it’s an opportunity to expand your horizons and experience the impact of animal therapy.
Yoga and Meditation
Yoga and meditation have been proven to help ease the side effects of stopping an addiction. It’s a holistic wellness approach that heals the physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual body. However, not all yoga styles, studios, and teachers are the same. You may need to shop around. Once you find the community that speaks to you, you’ll learn methods and techniques of breathing, movement, and rest to combat the calls of addiction.
Reading just about anything can be a means of relaxation and critical thinking. However, reading books by former addicts can be especially helpful—as long as the work isn’t triggering. These types of books may best be saved for when you’re farther down the road to recovery, and working with a therapist can help you determine when you’re ready. Books are easily accessible, can be free from the library, and can help you learn new methods for coping while feeling less along in recovery.
Get your heart rate up outside. You don’t need to turn into a runner or an avid cyclist. Simply taking a stroll outside to explore local trails and parks can help curb your cravings. The fresh air is invigorating, and if you avoid bringing technology with you, you’re forced to slow down and take in the beauty around you. Forest bathing, or mindful meditation in green spaces, is another means of allowing the natural environment to heal. You’ll also find it gets your creative juices flowing.
Writing is naturally cathartic and can help you untangle your thoughts and feelings. You might take online classes (some are geared specifically for those in recovery) or simply start journaling. Explore various forms and approaches from free verse poetry to short stories. Writing allows us to purge, and there’s no reason anyone ever has to read your work if you’d prefer to keep it private. Writing allows us to say with the written word what’s been stewing in our heads.
Everyone needs healthy hobbies for a balanced life. This can be especially true for addicts when drugs or alcohol have taken over their life for so long. It can be difficult to make room for hobbies at first, but you’ll quickly discover they improve all aspects of life. They don’t need to be costly or take up a lot of time. Rather, choose hobbies that excite you. Also, remember that hobbies don’t have to be for life. You can pick them up and set them down as you wish.
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