Early recovery is an incredible time of growth and self-discovery, but it’s not an easy time by any means. You’re honing the skills and strategies you learned in treatment to help you manage cravings and negative emotions, and you’re learning to think about yourself and the world in new, healthier ways.
But recovery is about more than simply learning to abstain from using drugs or alcohol. It’s a transformation of your entire life as you work to find purpose and meaning and learn to enjoy yourself, without needing drugs or alcohol to do it.
An article by addiction expert Steven Melemis, published in the Yale Journal of Biology and Medicine, stresses that one of the most important tasks in early recovery is to redefine fun.1 Engaging in fun activities is paramount to successful recovery, because if you’re not enjoying your life of sobriety and instead feel bored and restless, you’re more likely to turn back to drugs or alcohol to fill your time and combat these unpleasant feelings.
Boredom is right up there with stress and cravings when it comes to the most potent triggers for relapse. That’s why having hobbies to keep you busy and engaged is crucial in early recovery and beyond.
Here, then, are some ideas for preventing boredom in recovery.
Learn something new.
What have you always wanted to do? Cook gourmet food? Play the guitar? Paint portraits? Ballroom dance? Learn to fly? Master kung fu? Sew your own clothes? Why not take lessons or a class to develop that skill? You can find a huge variety of classes and workshops through your local community college, arts center, community center or through a private instructor.
Join a club.
Whatever your interests, chances are, you can find a club to join where you can share your hobbies with others. Search your area for sports leagues, running or biking groups or clubs for readers, writers, actors, gamers or film buffs. Joining a club gives you the opportunity to meet new people who share similar interests.
Challenge your body.
If you’re athletically inclined, or you want to be, consider training for a race, learning to master difficult yoga poses or pumping iron for greater strength. A physical challenge is very appealing to many, and exercise is an excellent way to reduce stress, improve your mood and achieve better health.
Volunteering for a cause that’s near and dear to your heart can bring a higher sense of purpose and meaning to your life while keeping you busy. Search the internet for volunteer opportunities near you and set out to make a difference. Build houses through Habitat For Humanity, volunteer for the Red Cross to help people displaced by disaster or help care for the animals at your local shelter. No matter what your skills, strengths and passions are, you can find an opportunity to use them in the service of others, which can be an important factor in continued successful recovery.
According to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, purpose in life is one of the four pillars of successful recovery.2 Think of recovery as a time to get involved, develop new interests, hone your skills and reignite your passions. The sky is the limit, and filling your time with productive, enjoyable pursuits will combat boredom and foster a sense of purpose, meaning and fun in a life without drugs.