How Hobbies and Interests Can Help You Sustain a Successful Recovery

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Recovery isn't just about maintaining sobriety; it's about rebuilding your life around healthy habits. In the past, many aspects of your life might've revolved around substance abuse. You want to avoid places and people that could trigger your substance use symptoms. Hobbies can help you do this to avoid relapse.

Abstinence won't last unless you find something to replace the holes in your life substance abuse created. You can fill these holes with positive friendships, healthy habits, and reigniting your hobbies and passions. Sobriety shouldn't be boring. It should be filled with love, passion, and enjoyment. However, these are feelings you might have to rebuild and rediscover during your recovery journey as you reclaim your hobbies and interests.

Loss of Interest in Hobbies

A symptom of substance use disorder (SUD) is losing interest in hobbies that you once took joy in. Dependency causes your life to revolve around substance abuse. The time that you used to spend enjoying your hobbies was replaced with finding, using, and recovering from the effects of substances. 

It might take some time to reignite your passions. When you've been away from a hobby for a while, it can be frustrating to try to achieve the same goals you were once able to easily. You might find that you aren't as adept at certain skills as you used to be. Likely you won't need to start from square one, but brushing up on your skills might take a while. Be patient and be proud of your progress as you build your skills.

Benefits of Having Hobbies

Having hobbies is important to living a healthy life. They can serve as a form of relaxation, socialization, and exercise. Different hobbies will offer different benefits. Artistic hobbies can help you work through and process your feelings. Athletic hobbies can boost endorphins and improve mood. Hobbies can also lead to peer connections and help you build relationships. They can help you find community and a sense of belonging.

Social Health

Finding joy in a hobby can help you connect with others. It can make it easier for you to build healthy relationships and form deeper bonds. Many hobbies have communities attached to them which you can find either online or in your local area. Having a community will expand your social and support network as you meet and get to know people.

The social benefits of hobbies include fulfilling your social needs, making you feel less lonely, and giving you a sense of belonging. Having a sense of belonging can reinforce a sense of purpose and reaffirm a sense of identity. A sense of purpose during your recovery journey can recommit your motivation to change your habits and continue in your personal growth. Purpose provides internal motivation to be the best version of yourself.

Mental Health

Artistic hobbies like music, art, crafts, or journaling can improve your mental health by giving you a healthy outlet for self-expression. When you encounter overwhelming emotions, artistic hobbies give you an outlet to vent your frustrations. Putting your emotions into art allows time for reflection. When you are creating any type of art, you are externalizing your feelings. Turning them into something you can feel and hold makes them less abstract. This can help you understand and reprocess them. 

You might realize that your emotions are misdirected or an overreaction to a situation. Alternatively, you might realize that you need to confront a problem that is bothering you more than you thought it was. Art and music can be used in therapeutic settings to help you better understand your feelings and regulate your emotions. Artistic hobbies can allow you the space to safely work through your traumas and have healing effects. They can also help relieve stress. Becoming lost in an art project can give you a sense of accomplishment and remove you from the stress of your day-to-day. 

Physical Health and Mindfulness

Many different types of athletic hobbies can benefit your physical health and encourage mindfulness. Mindfulness is a philosophy that helps you stay connected to the present moment. It allows you to slow down and take in your surroundings. This is often achieved through meditation and yoga. However, physical hobbies like hiking, kayaking, or running can also help you practice mindfulness. 

Nature is known to have a calming effect on people that helps them to be in the present moment. Being present allows you to process your thoughts objectively. These activities involve physical movement, which can improve mood, increase longevity, and help you feel more connected with your body. Some physical hobbies can target to relieve physical stress, such as the practice of yoga or Tai Chi.

Having Fun With Hobbies

Hobbies aren't about doing activities you “should” do. They're about finding activities that you want to do. A hobby should never be boring or discomforting. It should bring you a sense of joy, pride, and comfort. While it might take some time and trial and error to be reacquainted with a hobby, the long-term benefits will be worth it.

Hobbies will make it easier for you to avoid temptations during your recovery. Falling in love or re-falling in love with a hobby can give you a sense of accomplishment, help you build a community, and provide physical and mental health benefits. Pathways Recovery Center offers a variety of modalities, such as art therapy, yoga, and activity therapy, giving you the ability to incorporate artistic and physical elements into your treatment plan. These options will help you re-discover your interests during your recovery. If you or someone you know is struggling in recovery, call Pathways Recovery Center at (888) 771-0966 to learn how we can meet you where you are in your journey.

Clinically reviewed by 

Moses Nasser
Dr. Moses Nasser, a double board-certified physician in Family Medicine and Addiction Medicine, with expertise in holistic healing, addiction medicine, and psychiatric care, holds an X-waiver to prescribe buprenorphine and has extensive experience in mindfulness-based customer service and medication-assisted treatment.

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