Originally posted on https://www.stopdrinkingexpert.com/staying-sober/
Quitting Drinking Is Easy, Staying Sober Is The Challenge:
If you’re in recovery from alcohol addiction, the first thing we want to say is congratulations! You’ve taken a huge step towards a happier, healthier life, and that step is hard. Working to overcome problem drinking is a challenge, but it’s one you’re more than up to.
One of the things you’ll need to learn as you go through recovery is how to live a life that doesn’t involve using drugs. A major component of that is picking up new hobbies to fill your time and help you build a new life. Below we have some ideas for sober hobbies that can help you on your path to recovery.
Why Having a Hobby Matters
It may sound strange to say that having a hobby is an important part of addiction recovery. But one of the primary tenets of recovery is learning how to restructure your life without substance abuse. To put it bluntly, you have to figure out something to do with the time you once would have spent drinking.
Hobbies can be a great way to keep you busy, engaged, and focused on something other than your problems. Depending on the hobby, it may even provide benefits for your overall mental and physical health. And it can be a great way to find ways to have fun and get a positive “reward” response from your brain that doesn’t involve drug use.
Staying Sober With Healthy Hobbies
When you first start on the path of learning how to stop drinking, it can be difficult to remember what you like to do other than drink or party.
Your years of drinking has changed the way you see life, and it can be hard to remember what you did with the time before booze. So start by thinking back to before your drinking began and activities you enjoyed back then.
Did you have any particular hobby or activity you enjoyed as a child? Were you involved in a sport, or was there a craft you liked to do? Think about what you were and are interested in, and start there in your hobby exploration.
Volunteer at a Shelter
Volunteering your time is a great hobby for those working to recover from an addiction. For one thing, it is a positive way to give of your time to help others out, which makes you feel good. But it also helps shift focus off your problems and onto solving the problems of others, which can be helpful in preventing a relapse.
Start working shifts at your local animal shelter when you can. Volunteering at an animal shelter can have particular benefits, since spending time around animals is therapeutic. If you aren’t able to or interested in working at an animal shelter, consider volunteering at a food pantry, soup kitchen, women’s and children’s shelter, or church ministry.
Yoga, meditation, and mindfulness are some of the best activities for those recovering from an addiction. One of the reasons people may turn to drugs in the first place is as a coping mechanism for challenging emotions. Anxiety and depression are also often found among addicts and recovering addicts.
Yoga and meditation emphasize being focused on the present moment and taking stock of your feelings. It can help you process negative emotions in a healthy way, as well as easing the stress response. There are lots of free apps available with different yoga workouts and meditation routines ranging from ten minutes to an hour.
Books are one of the greatest wonders of our world and one of the most accessible forms of entertainment. Reading is a great way to learn something new, and you’ll never run out of things to read. Depending on how far along you are in your therapy, you may even find it helpful to read books from other former addicts and problem drinkers.
Make a list of topics you’re interested in learning more about and take it to your local library. It can be something as simple as how to beat the latest Fallout game or as involved as the origins of the natural universe. Find books on the subject you’re interested in and work your way through whatever your local library has on the subject.
Physical exercise is a great way to get your body and your mind in shape at the same time. Exercise releases endorphins, which improves your mood and works to fight anxiety and depression. Not to mention the stress relief that physical exercise can provide.
If you played a sport as a kid, consider picking it back up and joining a local league. Or you could shop around for an exercise regimen you like; try kickboxing, swimming, dance, spin classes, barre, and more. Even something as simple as walking for 30 minutes every day can make a big difference in your physical and mental health.
For many recovering addicts, writing is an important part of their therapy. Putting words down on paper is a great way to help you work through your thoughts without getting caught up in rumination. It can also help be a way to explore your past in a way that is non-judgmental and open.
You don’t have to write the next great American novel to get into writing, though you can if you like. Start by writing down anything that crosses your mind for fifteen minutes, or keeping a daily diary. If you want to dip into creative writing, try finding a workshop group in your area.
Now, stay with us here; we know bird watching doesn’t have a reputation as the coolest of hobbies. But it can be a great activity for recovering addicts. For one thing, it gets you spending time outside, which has several noted mental health benefits.
Bird watching is something you can do anywhere, even your own back yard, for free. Start trying to identify which birds visit your back yard, and pay attention to if the same ones return over and over again. Consider setting up a bird feeder or bird bath somewhere you can see it so you can watch your feathery friends come and go.
Cooking can be a wonderful way to explore new tastes and entertain guests. There is a real sense of pride that comes from making a delicious meal, and the sense of reward that comes from that accomplishment can be important for recovering addicts. Besides, cooking, like reading, offers endless opportunities for new exploration and growth.
Challenge yourself to cook all the way through your favorite cookbook, Julie and Julia-style. Or just set a goal to cook yourself dinner three times a week. Try to cook something new every week, and push yourself to try dishes you’ve never made before from different cuisines.
Take Online Courses
Learning new things is a great way to keep your mind busy, but taking classes can be incredibly expensive. Luckily, the internet age has got our back; a lot of colleges and universities offer discounted online classes. Some places even offer free classes through their websites.
You can take an online class on just about anything, from the Hogwarts classes to philosophy. Find a topic that interest you, and look around for a free online course covering it. Try to take at least one class every semester to keep your mind engaged.
Learn a New Language
Most of us wish we spoke more languages than we do. There’s something incredibly impressive about being able to say you speak three or four languages. And with the power of technology today, you don’t have to go back to school to learn French or Arabic.
Get a language learning app like Rosetta Stone or Duolingo and start in on lessons in the language you want to learn. If you drive a lot, you can even find podcasts that help you learn languages like Spanish and Italian. Try to practice every day, and talk to some of your friends about learning with you.
Alcohol steals our dreams and goals. So many people had big plans to travel the world or play an instrument back when they were younger. However, they discovered alcohol and allowed it to put their dreams on pause.
If you are still drinking, decide now and take action today. Click here to join our next free quit drinking webinar.
Learn to Knit
You may be surprised to learn that knitting has many of the same benefits as yoga and meditation. The action promotes mindfulness, calms stress, and eases the symptoms of depression. Best of all, knitting generates tangible results that you can wear proudly or share with loved ones.
In fact, some of that tangible benefit may be helpful in recovering from problem drinking, too. You can see the physical progress you’re making, a tool that can be helpful in encouraging you to continue. If you’re not sure where to get started learning to knit, look for a yarn shop in your area, or try to find a local Stitch and Bitch group.
Tend a Garden
Spending time outside can be hugely beneficial, and one of the more productive ways to get your Vitamin D in is to start a garden. You can plant flowers or food, and you’ll get to watch them grow and flourish over the next several weeks. Like knitting, gardens produce tangible results that can help you mark your progress in recovery.
Decide whether you want to plant flowers or vegetables, and then see what grows in your area. You can do a container garden, a raised bed garden, or a full-out garden patch, depending on how much you want to grow and how much soil modification you want to do. Set a schedule for your garden so you can have something growing all year ‘round.
Gardening and being outside a bit more has also been proven to help with mental health, it’s not just a powerful way of staying sober.
Take Up Photography
One of the best things about recovery is learning to see the beauty in the world again. Given that photography is all about capturing that beauty on film, it makes a great hobby for recovering alcohol addicts. It strikes a wonderful balance between remembering why you are in recovery and providing a creative outlet.
Photography equipment can get expensive, but you don’t have to use anything fancy to start out with. Play with your smartphone camera, or get a disposable camera from the dollar store. Look up online tutorials, take a class if you can afford to, and have your better photos printed to hang around your house.
Plus, did you know the average Stop Drinking Expert member saves around $6000 a year on attractively packaged poison. Why not put that money towards your new hobby?
Staying Sober With Music
Learning an instrument is another one of those activities that stimulates the brain and the creativity at the same time. Being able to play an instrument is a highly technical skill; you have to know how to make the instrument produce the sounds you want. But music is one of the most powerful forms of expression we have available to us.
If you’ve never played an instrument before, you can start with something low-investment, such as a guitar or a trumpet. Look around on online listings for used instruments, and start learning how to play your favorite songs. You can look up online tutorials or find someone to teach you in person.
Getting passionate about something beyond alcohol is key to staying sober and getting the life you really want.
Paint or Draw
Artistic expression can be one of the most powerful things for a recovering addict. There are a lot of emotions and trauma you may still be trying to process, and art provides an outlet for that. Music, writing, and photography all provide good outlets for that, but painting and drawing is one of the most direct forms of artistic expression.
Drawing and painting also don’t require a lot of specialized materials – you can start with something as simple as a pencil and printer paper. Don’t be afraid to mess up; there is no wrong way to do art, and anything you create is your own expression. Start by drawing what you see or feel, and try to get lost in the experience of recreating that on the paper.
Join a Game Night
Aside from maintaining a hobby, one of the most important things recovering addicts can do to staying sober is to stay socially connected. Isolation can lead to depression, which can lead to relapse, so you want to stay in touch with the people in your life. Game nights provide a great way for you to do both of those things at the same time.
Ask your friends if they’d like to start a board game night, or try to find one in your community. You may also want to look into joining a Dungeons and Dragons game in your area. The game has been making a comeback lately, and it provides some great opportunities for socializing and creative storytelling in the same space.
Staying Sober With The Stop Drinking Expert
Staying sober and learning to live a life without alcohol is one of the biggest challenges you’ll face. But it’s a journey that’s more than worth it, and staying sober with good hobbies can help you along the way. They’ll help you stay the course of sobriety and remind you all over again every day why this journey is so worth it.
If you’d like to get started on your path to a new life, contact us at Stop Drinking Expert. We have a unique program that avoids the expense of rehab or the requirements of a twelve-step program. Get our free ebook to learn more about our program today.