Did you know that taking up hobbies during addiction recovery can drastically improve your progress? A hobby is defined as any activity that people do for fun. You can make money from a hobby and turn it into your job, but it is something that should bring you joy. Hobbies can be physical activities, such as playing sports or running, or they can be mental activities like reading a book, knitting, or puzzles.
Whether it be an old hobby you liked before you started using or a new one you are learning now, these activities are crucial to keeping you busy, fulfilled, and on the path to sobriety.
A Lifestyle Change
Committing to recovery from addiction means that you are committing to making a lifestyle change. This can be daunting for some, as knowing what that change will look like and what a new lifestyle means are challenging thoughts. Much of the stress stems from the fact that recovery is a huge responsibility where you must actively work to replace your old bad habits with healthy new ones.
For this reason, it is often recommended to take up a hobby. This hobby can be one you used to partake in or a new one entirely. Having a hobby — or multiple hobbies — fills up the gaps in your day, ultimately helping with anxiety about recovery by taking part in something you love.
It’s a known fact that boredom can be a trigger for relapse. Many addicts actually develop substance abuse as a response to boredom. This is cause for concern, especially after one is preparing to leave a sober living home or rehab because they will have more free time.
Boredom can ultimately lead to:
- Comfort eating
- Dissatisfied feelings towards recovery
- Romanticizing the drink or drug
- Feelings of anger
Boredom can also lead to “dry drunk syndrome,” which is when a person does nothing else except to stop drinking or using, causing them to see recovery as a prison sentence rather than a positive change in their life.
Having hobbies helps to combat boredom by taking up your free time. Doing something you love in your free time will keep your mind occupied so you are not anxious about your recovery — making you less likely to engage in drug or alcohol use.
An Aid for Addictive Thinking
You tend to set goals for yourself when you have hobbies. As you progress in these fun activities, you will likely become more focused on maintaining and achieving the goals you have set for yourself.
As you think about your hobbies throughout the day, this also keeps you from stressing about recovery, addiction, and relapse. In this way, hobbies help aid in anxiety by keeping you from overthinking and replacing negative thoughts with ones that are more positive and productive.
Heal Your Healthy Reward System
At the beginning of recovery, the reward system in a person’s brain is still recovering from the effects of addiction. This can cause the person to not be able to find satisfaction in anything other than drinking or using.
Over the course of recovery, sobriety helps the reward system heal. Hobbies can actually aid in this process by having results the person can see and quantify. The rewards system in the brain then becomes more healthy and begins properly producing dopamine during other fun and productive activities — rather than only when the person is engaging in substance abuse.
Make Connections & Build a Support Network
Taking up a new hobby can connect you with like-minded people who support you and enjoy the hobby with you as well. When you spend more time with people who are as engaged in sober activities as you, you become less likely to go back to old, unhealthy habits such as spending time with people who still use or visiting places that evoke bad memories.
Through hobbies, you are essentially avoiding triggers that are connected to your addiction. You can also begin to associate certain triggers with new, more positive thoughts and feelings.
Don’t Substitute for Your Addiction
As you become more involved in your newfound hobbies, be sure that you are not using these activities to substitute for your addiction. For example, when recovering addicts begin replacing old habits with new ones, they can run the risk of becoming obsessed with the new habits.
Even though hobbies are not likely to cause the same physical dangers, they can still damage your relationships, financial stability, and more if they take over your life. You do not want to experience the damaging consequences of addiction again.
When in recovery, your goal should be to find a balance in everything you do in your life. Becoming obsessed with a hobby makes it more of a liability than a positive addition to your life. Hobbies should make you happier, not be used to avoid other responsibilities.
How Do I Find the Right Hobby for Me?
When looking to start (or re-start) a hobby, a good place to begin is to think about the things you enjoyed before addiction. You can do this by making a list of possible options and considering them. You can ask others for advice as well. Remember to try new things and not to get discouraged if the first attempt doesn’t work out. Keep trying until you find the right fit for you.
If you get stuck coming up with ideas, try researching your options online. Consider a mix of physical and mental hobbies to give you a variety. Having more than one hobby can actually help you not use them as substitutions for your addiction.
Doing things that bring you joy can help you progress even faster in recovery. Feelings of happiness and being able to bond with others can give you the tools you need to continue growing, learning, and healing.
The benefits of hobbies are endless as these fun activities leave you feeling energized and ready to conquer your goals. At Camelback Recovery, our sober living homes can help you manage your hobbies in a healthy way. To learn more, call us today at (602) 466-9880.