Recovery—regardless of what you’re recovering from—is a day-by-day journey. Some days are harder than others, but every day that you make it through is another day that shows that you are capable of overcoming these hurdles. But sometimes it might seem a little difficult to rebuild your life when you are no longer filling it with your addiction. This is totally normal, and finding new fun and sober activities that you enjoy is part of your journey to a healthier and happier SOBER you!
You’ve probably heard the saying “idle hands are the devil’s workshop.” This can be especially true when you’re recovering from substance abuse and are trying to find new and healthy ways to spend your time. We’ve put together a list of a few fun, sober activities to help you make the most of your recovery journey.
1. Try solving some jigsaw puzzles.
Not only is solving puzzles an amazing way to pass the time but it’s also good for your brain! Puzzles improve short-term memory, reinforce visual-spatial reasoning, and improve the connection between brain cells. Puzzles are a great activity because they can be done on your own if you’re in need of some alone time, but they’re also great to work on as a group with family, friends, or your partner. Additionally, they’re a great metaphor for looking at “the bigger picture.”
If you’re new to jigsaw puzzles, try something small and eventually work your way up to 1,000 piece puzzles. Sites like Legacy Toys offer a variety of puzzles depending on your skill level and interest, so it’s very likely that you’ll find something that suits your interests.
2. Exercise for your overall health.
Most people think of sobriety as a mental, emotional, and sometimes spiritual journey. But taking care of your physical health is just as important! According to Dr. Jerry Lerner at CASTS Hollywood Rehab Center, “Recovery is part of an ongoing healthier living process.” One of the best places to start with your overall health is with your physical health. In fact, if you’ve been to a world-class rehabilitation center, like the CAST Centers, for residential treatment, you may have been encouraged to engage in some form of exercise.
Exercise is a natural dopamine source, which can give you that extra kick of satisfaction when you need it most. Exercising is also a holistic approach to improving mental health. There’s even evidence that exercise can alleviate symptoms of depression and anxiety. And there are so many options when it comes to exercise! You can join a gym, take up running, try yoga or pilates, or get into swimming. There are activities you can do alone, but there are also many exercises to do with a friend or in a group. The possibilities are nearly endless.
3. Create something beautiful.
Part of your ongoing recovery process will be to confront the emotions and struggles that contributed to your path of addiction. Seeing a therapist is a wonderful way to confront these emotions in a professional, safe setting, but having an outlet for the pain after your individual therapy session is always a good idea. Many professionals recommend art therapy as a tool to channel your negative emotions into something positive.
Your creative outlet could be anything—painting, writing, crocheting, woodwork. Discovering something you like, and something you’re possibly good at is a great first step to learn more about yourself. This could also helo you express your emotions in a way that heals you and gives you a final product to appreciate. Sometimes seeing a visual manifestation of your journey makes the recovery feel more real. Not to mention, you can share this accomplishment with your whole family.
4. Volunteer and give back.
An important part of any addiction treatment plan is learning how to function as a contributing member of your household, family, and community. Volunteering your time is a great way to give back to your community while stimulating the parts of your brain that trigger happiness, without the use of drugs or alcohol for that gratification. And the best part about volunteering is that you can try out a bunch of new things until you find something that you love or are passionate about!
There is always something you can do to help, and it may help you in return.
5. Start a regular sober group activity.
Getting together with other like-minded individuals and sharing a common interest is a wonderful way to meet new people—especially if you’re looking for new sober friends. Start a book group (sans wine), a podcast, a parenting group, or something similar that fits your lifestyle. Encourage those you know to join in on the fun, or tell them to spread the word to others. Specifying that it is a sober event will encourage you and your group to engage in fun activities without the use of mind-altering substances, which is vital to transitioning into your sober lifestyle.
After a while, you might even find yourself wondering why you even felt you needed drugs or alcohol to have fun in the first place!
The road to sobriety looks different for everyone. Your struggles and weaknesses might seem trivial to others, while the things that come easily and naturally for you might be painful triggers for others.
Learning more about yourself as you recover and trying new things along the way is crucial in ensuring that you stay sober and healthy. You’ll thank yourself for it later.