Why Are Fun Sober Activities So Important in Recovery?

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When you were still in the process of actively engaging in substance use, you likely devoted a good portion of your time to drug or alcohol use. This could be time spent not only obtaining and using drugs or alcohol but recovering from substance use as well. You might not have had any spare time left over for other activities. However, now that you are in recovery, you have newfound time to spend engaging in sober activities. 

Taking the time for fun sober activities is so important in recovery. Why it's so important is one of the many things you will be taught while in recovery at Pathways Recovery Center. Finding sober activities that you enjoy in recovery can not only greatly improve your mental health and prevent relapse, but it can provide you with a sense of joy and fulfillment. 

If you haven't spent much time in recent years engaging in sober activities, it may take time to rediscover what you enjoy. However, once you find it, you may be surprised by how much your life transforms for the better. 

Understanding How Fun Sober Activities Prevent Boredom

Consider when you would typically turn to substance use in the past. Was it something you would do when you were simply bored, lonely, or didn't have anything else going on? If so, then you now know that boredom is something that you need to work hard to avoid and overcome in recovery. One of the best ways that you can do that is to make sure you are filling up any of your extra time with fun sober activities. 

Making the time for fun sober activities provides distraction, but not in a negative way. Rather, it can get you out of your own head and focused on something positive. This is far better than sitting at home feeling unstimulated and possibly engaging in negative thought patterns. For example, if you find yourself beginning to think about substance misuse during the early stages of recovery, getting out and doing something fun can take your mind off of it. 

Cravings can be especially challenging in the early stages of recovery, which makes sober activities especially important. However, this is not to say that these activities should be neglected when you're months and even years into recovery. These things will still be just as important in the years to come. 

Understanding How Sober Activities Connect You to Others

When you were still engaging in substance misuse, you may have spent a lot of your time with other people who were also engaging in substance misuse. Now that you are in recovery, it is important that you find a new group of people to spend your spare time with. These are people who will be supportive and respectful of your recovery journey. Ideally, they will also be people with whom you will share common interests. A great way to find these people is through fun sober activities. 

If you have a certain activity that you enjoy, consider looking for local clubs or groups that may allow you to participate in this activity along with other people. For example, maybe you play basketball or another sport but don't have a team to play with. Consider joining an intramural team close to you. This way, you'll not only have something to look forward to and enjoy. You'll have the opportunity to meet and form bonds with others. 

Maybe you are passionate about your faith but haven't found a church community you have connected with yet. You may find yourself attending services alone. Consider joining a church social group, whether it be a bible study, young adult group, volunteer program, or other forum. This can be a great way to meet people and feel more at home with your church community. 

Maybe you are at a point in life when you don't know what sort of activities you're passionate about right now. If this is your situation, consider what sort of skills you've always wanted to learn but never had the opportunity to before. For example, maybe you always wanted to learn how to cook or play a certain instrument. Now is your chance to take a class. You may be surprised by the quality of the connection you form. 

Once you have the opportunity to meet people through clubs, classes, and sports, you can then form a group of people to hang out with in other social situations as well. These could be people that in the future you can call up to meet for coffee or go to a movie. You may be surprised how quickly you can form lasting connections with people if you're not afraid to put yourself out there. 

Understanding How Fun Sober Activities Provide Much-Needed Leisure Time

Nobody is intended to spend all of their time working. This can quickly lead to burnout and mental exhaustion. You may not feel the same motivation and excitement about your recovery journey that you once did. This is a slippery slope that can eventually lead to relapse if it is not addressed. 

No matter how busy your schedule may be or how little spare time you may have, it is still crucial to make time for the things you enjoy. This gives you something to look forward to, especially after a long day at work. It can help to provide you with the boost you need as you navigate your week and can help restore your energy. Most importantly, it can provide some much-needed joy and excitement. 

When you were still actively engaging in substance misuse, you may have felt as if drugs or alcohol provided you with a sense of contentment. But as you likely experienced time and time again, that was never lasting and authentic fulfillment. By the time the substance had worn off, you probably found yourself right back where you started. This was likely a position of searching for something more but never being able to find it. 

But when you have a sober hobby or activity that is meaningful to you, you can feel a real sense of purpose. You will feel as if you are using your time well rather than wasting it away, only not to remember how you spent it the following day. Fun sober activities allow you to form strong and lasting memories with the people you care about. This is also a great way to continue to learn more about yourself and develop as a human being. 

When you first began your recovery journey, did anyone you met ask you what your hobbies or passions were? Perhaps, this was a question that was difficult for you to answer at the time. This could be because it has been a while since you really participated in any. However, now is your opportunity to explore new things and develop passions that you can be proud of having. 

Understanding How Sober Activities Prevent Stress

We know that stress management is incredibly important in order to ensure good mental health. In turn, this is crucial in recovery in order to prevent relapse. Sober activities can play an important role in healthy stress prevention. As you navigate your recovery journey, it is very important that you don't forget to make time for your own needs. 

Perhaps you have a jam-packed schedule and a lot of personal and professional responsibilities on your plate. Nevertheless, try to carve out at least a small amount of time each day that will be devoted specifically to a fun sober activity of your choice. This may mean putting other things on hold, asking a partner to cover babysitting duty, or even sacrificing a small amount of sleep. However, the fulfillment you will get from making this time will be well worth it. 

Making the time to do something you enjoy and get active is one of the best ways for you to reduce stress. But don't think that your sober activities have to include physical exercise. While physical exercise is wonderful for preventing stress, sober activities can come in a lot of different forms. For you, it could be as simple as spending some quality one-on-one time with friends and family members. 

Because we are social beings, making time for socialization is important for our mental health and recovery journey. Spending time with the people we care about can boost mood, prevent stress, and ward off problems like anxiety and depression. Consider how you can fit more socialization into your everyday schedule. Maybe you don't have time to meet up with a friend for dinner, but can you take the time to fit in a Zoom call during your lunch break? 

Finding Freedom Through Fun Sober Activities

An unfortunate false truth that is ever too present in our society, often beginning in college, is that you need to engage in substance use to have fun. This could never be further from the truth. In fact, when you are able to be fully present and involved with your hobbies and activities, you are likely going to enjoy them all the more. When you make the time for fun sober activities you are likely going to experience a shift in yourself. 

This shift can bring about a sense of incredible freedom and relief. It can help you conquer any doubts you may have ever had about whether you can enjoy yourself without drugs or alcohol. This can be an empowering feeling that will open your eyes to new possibilities and opportunities available to you. 

In addition, you'll likely discover that there are far more activities that you can enjoy sober than you could while under the influence. For example, consider what goals you have set yourself for your future. You are clearly going to be a lot more likely to conquer a half marathon or ace a test for school while preparing sober than while under the influence. In time, you will see that there is truly nothing that you cannot accomplish when drugs and alcohol are no longer standing in your way. 

Finding Outdoor Sober Activities That Work for You

Cleary, finding new sober activities that work for you in recovery is highly important. But if this is not something that you have done in a while, you may be wondering where to start. How do you go about finding out what your passion is in life, especially if you've never found it before? The key is to keep an open mind and not be afraid to try something new. 

Consider starting with the people you already have in your life close to you. For example, this could be the people in your 12-Step support group meeting, especially those who have been in recovery for a while. Ask them what type of sober activities they like to engage in. They will likely be more than willing to invite you to come along and participate. 

At Pathways Recovery Center, we can work with you to assess your different interests and try to help you determine ideas for new activities that may be a good fit for you. 

The more new things you give a try, the more likely you are going to be to find something that you really enjoy doing. If you want to work in more mental health benefits into your sober activity, consider doing something outside. Getting out into nature is terrific for your mental health and can help you to re-focus and feel rejuvenated. It is also a great way to get away from the stress and hustle and bustle of daily life. 

There are a plethora of different fun activities that you can do outside that are completely free. These can include physical activities if you so choose, but they don't have to be. Consider some of the following ideas for outdoor activities: 

  • Birdwatching 
  • Hiking 
  • Walking your dog 
  • Swimming 
  • Fishing 
  • Biking 
  • Jogging 
  • Kayaking, canoeing, water skiing, or other water sports 
  • Practicing yoga outside 
  • Taking pictures of nature 
  • Playing outdoor sports 
  • Camping

Sober Activities That Involve Giving Back

One thing that you will learn as you go about your recovery journey is that giving back to the community is one of the best things that you can do for your mental health. Not only is this a great way to make a positive difference in the community, but it can be incredibly fulfilling and improve your mood. In addition, this is a great way to meet other people who have the same motivation as you. It can also really help with the healing process that takes place in recovery. 

If you want to volunteer within your own community, consider giving your time, treasure, or talent. For example, if you have spare funds, you can share your treasure by contributing to local charities. 

If you have a certain skill you'd be willing to share with others, become a volunteer teacher or mentor. Maybe you want to give your time through acts of service. If so, consider spending a day a week volunteering at a homeless shelter serving meals. 

Some additional ideas of how you can give to your community include: 

  • Going through your closet and donate clothing you no longer wear to those in need
  • Contributing to food drives by dropping off canned goods 
  • Collecting school supplies and dropping them off at a local school for students to use 
  • Volunteering to help care for animals at a local shelter 
  • Taking the time to visit someone in a nursing home that rarely has visitors 
  • Writing some letters of gratitude to service men and women 
  • Helping an elderly neighbor with their lawn care or housework 
  • Sponsoring a child in a third-world country 
  • Picking up litter around local parks in your community 

Everyone deserves to take time for themselves and have fun from time to time. This is especially important in recovery. Spending your spare time engaging in substance misuse is not only not fulfilling but will likely not result in memories you'll enjoy looking back on. Sober activities, however, can lead to quality time with loved ones that you will look back on with joy. If you are ready to make the brave step toward getting sober, our team at Pathways Recover Center is here to guide you along the way. You don't have to go about this process alone. Give us a call at (888) 771-0966 and we will be happy to answer any questions you may have.

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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