A sober life does not have to equal a boring life. There are many fun sober activities that await a person when our emotions are stable.
Hobbies and activities help to build confidence, increase your energy and think with a mindset of continuous self-improvement. It’s all part of the sober lifestyle.
The Sober Lifestyle
The throes of addiction can make one feel as though substance abuse is the only way. The sober world seems hazy and unrealistic when peering at it through the fog of a very personal war.
With work and perseverance, that fog can lift and the true clarity of a sober lifestyle can be revealed. When entering the beginning stages of recovery, there can be a lot of empty time that must be filled. When once we were high and running in place, now the legs of sobriety must be flexed for some true movement.
While living sober isn’t always easy, it is always worth it. Here are the beginning steps in establishing a lasting recovery:
- One Day at a Time: Don’t think about what happened yesterday or what may happen tomorrow. It can be overwhelming to try to envision a future without something that took up such a huge portion of our past. Live one day at a time. Visualize not using today and only today. Over time, each sober day builds a sober life.
- Sober Networking: Avoiding people who use doesn’t mean we have to be alone with our thoughts. There is a reason why they say that an idle mind does the devil’s work. Make new connections with like-minded sober individuals who can help illuminate the path to recovery.
- Develop Sober Thinking: Identify methods of developing rational thinking. There are only two types of thought: rational and irrational. An example of irrational thinking would be saying “Oh well, this isn’t going to work and I will just be an addict forever.” Avoid these types of self-defeating thoughts.
- Be Honest With Yourself: Much like developing sober ways of thinking, being honest with ourselves is part of the mental recovery strategy. We must acknowledge that recovery may not always be easy, but it is necessary. Deluding ourselves only increases the chance that we will fall back into a pattern of risky behavior.
For lifelong recovery, figuring out what we should do is only half of the equation. While it is helpful to know what should be done, it is equally important to outline what shouldn’t:
- Avoid Social Triggers: Interactions that place us in situations where we may be tempted to use should be avoided. As if maintaining sobriety wasn’t hard enough, the last thing we need is to be surrounded with reminders of our past drug use.
- Avoid Emotional Triggers: Don’t allow anger, resentment or depression to take over your emotional state. More often than not, drug use results from a broken emotional coping mechanism triggered by negative feelings such as anger and resentment. By preventing those feelings from bubbling up in the first place and practicing calming techniques, emotional triggers can be kept at bay.
- Avoid Risk Factors: Being able to understand and acknowledge feelings and behaviors that put sobriety at risk is crucial. Part of recovery is charting a path that embraces logic and sound reasoning while avoiding risky behavior and self-doubt.
- Avoid Isolation: It can’t be said enough that isolation is never the answer. Though addiction often wreaks havoc on the family unit, recovery brings back harmony. A supportive group of close friends and family should never be taken for granted. Welcome their involvement in your new life.
- Avoid the Beat or Cheat: We must always refrain from trying to beat or cheat recovery. By making excuses or justifications for risky behavior, we only increase the chance of relapse. The only way to succeed is by maintaining complete and total sobriety.
There is more to living a sober life than knowing the dos and don’ts of recovery. Building a new way of life means finding new ways to spend your time. Find out about the benefits of hobbies and activities in recovery.
Benefits of Hobbies and Activities in Recovery
When you’re in recovery, you’ll no longer be spending time finding, using and recovering from using your drug of choice. You need to fill that large hole in your schedule with something positive.You now have time for fun sober activities – for whatever you want, for whatever you’ve been missing. There are many fun sober activities. Hobbies and activities help you find something new and different to focus your attention on. When you engage in hobbies and activities that are enjoyable, you:
- Find out what having fun without using feels like — The main benefit of spending time on hobbies and sober group activities in recovery is it reminds you what it was like to experience pleasurable feelings without the influence of drugs or alcohol. It may have been years since you had what you would consider a good time without being under the influence of chemicals. You may equate having fun with “partying,” and it may take some time for you to learn that there are other ways for you to enjoy yourself.
- Improve your social skills — You may have thought you were quite social when you were using. The reality is you were only sitting beside other people who were also using drugs. It’s not the same as participating in an activity together and really sharing the experience when sober. Making a point of going out with a group is a good way to develop social skills that may be lacking. The other people in the group, if it is specifically one for those in recovery, are likely having some similar issues, too. Spending time with them can help all group members feel more comfortable in group situations while they enjoy whatever activity the group has decided to do together.
- Lessen your sense of isolation — In early recovery, you can’t spend time with your former associates and people who are currently using drugs and alcohol. The likelihood that it might trigger a relapse is too great. It’s important to make new friends who are embracing a sober lifestyle.
- Increase your motivation — If you’re in recovery, you may need some extra motivation from time to time to meet up with the rest of the social group, get to the exercise class, have coffee with a friend, buy supplies for the road trip, or whatever needs to be done. When you make specific plans in advance, it helps to keep them on track by keeping these commitments.
- Lower your stress level — If you become anxious about staying sober or start experiencing cravings, having specific activities to do on a regular basis helps focus your mind on other positive activities. You can break the cycle of focusing on a single thought until it becomes overwhelming.
- Volunteer work – Now that you’ve been helped by others, this is a great time to give back by volunteering.
- Boost your self-esteem — Trying new hobbies and experiences in recovery is an excellent way to learn new things about yourself and gain confidence in your abilities.
Sober Group Activities
- Go to a sporting event — Get together with a group of friends and go to a sporting event together. If no big-league team plays in your city, look for minor league teams near you. The cost will be lower, and you will be able to see up-and-coming players.
- Board Games – Let’s face it, what’s more fun than sharing a hearty laugh with close friends and family? A classic board game to bring out the humor amongst loved ones is the best way to ease tension and share in a loving moment.
- Play tourist in your own city — Contact the local tourist bureau to find out about local walking tours. If there isn’t a formal one already available, find a few friends and use Google Maps or an online app to historic places of interest in your city — ideally within walking distance of each other — and develop your own tour. Plan your route so you have time to explore an area or a neighborhood that interests you and be sure to end your adventure with a stop at a restaurant or a cafe for a meal or snack.
- Community Centers – There are a number of groups and organizations that offer indoor activities for those trying to stay on the straight and narrow. While not every city offers a community center able to help the entire population, when available these are valuable resources. Many offer sports facilities, free Internet, community support programs and sightseeing tours.
Sober Individual Activities
- Discover a new author at the library — Go to the public library and tell the librarian what type of books you like to read. Ask for a recommendation for a new author or two. Some people who like to read tend to stick with the same authors and read the same series of books all the time. If the library has a table of featured books being promoted, pick up one of them that looks interesting and take it home. You’re borrowing, so if it ends up not being interesting, simply return it. The idea here is to try something different without necessarily knowing the outcome. Not into reading much? Try any number of other fun sober activities.
- Go to The Gym – Exercising is a great way to release stress, improve physical health and build self-confidence. If a gym membership is not possible, try exercising at home or going for a quick jog. Any sober physical activity is a good activity.
- Cooking – Oftentimes the disease of addiction affects our health in ways that aren’t even related to using. Cooking often goes by the wayside, leading to unhealthy eating habits and further deterioration in physical health. Getting back into the kitchen to make delectable meals for loved ones can be an extremely therapeutic and delicious endeavor!
- Take a class in anything — There are plenty of adult education classes available. Foreign language, physical education, or further your education by working on a degree or a trade certificate. Or, you can take a course in something you have always wanted to learn, such as how to prepare a certain type of food, paint, draw, do woodworking, refinish furniture, make soap, trace your family tree, play an instrument, perform CPR, etc. This is a wonderful way to expand your circle of acquaintances since you will immediately have something in common with them.
- Take an online course — You may find it more convenient to take an online course, since you can study whenever it’s convenient for you. Some programs have online discussions with fellow students and the instructor, so you wouldn’t necessarily be studying alone. You would have to be disciplined enough to keep on top of your coursework without going to a physical classroom to do it, though.
- Museums –In many cities, local museums offer free or low-cost admission. Enjoying the fruits of someone’s creative labors can be both educational and calming. Art shows and museums are excellent locations for sober activity.
- Arts and Crafts – While this may not be for everyone, seeing a personal creation come to life can be an incredibly calming and gratifying experience. Whether scrapbooking or making a single piece of origami, revel in the joy of creation. Browse Pinterest for ideas and inspiration. Who knows? Maybe your creations can turn into a side business on Etsy.
- Study a new language — Pick up language-training CDs at the local library or look for free websites and apps that can help you learn a foreign language. If you have already had some language training, you may want to start with something you are familiar with and build on it. Once you have gained some skill with a second (or subsequent) language, you can look at adding another one.
- Reading a Book –Admittedly, in today’s digital age reading a book has a decidedly un-cool ring. Fortunately, nothing could be further from the truth. We used to escape into a high. Escaping into another world isn’t always such a bad thing when done sober. Choose inspirational books and gain important life skills to address everyday stressors — it’s another way to protect your sobriety.
If you’re in addiction recovery treatment or a sober living home here in Southern California – you’re in luck! There are tons of great fun sober activities that are inexpensive or free! HERE’S A GREAT LIST.