The Importance of Finding Things to Do in Recovery
When people give up an addiction they will suddenly find that they have a great deal more free time. This is because abusing alcohol and drugs can be a full-time occupation. The individual will be used to spending hours each day seeking, using and getting over the effects of their substance abuse. When they enter recovery, they will need to find new ways of using this time. Failing to do so could lead to boredom and dissatisfaction.
Boredom can be dangerous to people recovering from an addiction. It may have been a lack of meaningful things to do with their time that drove them into addiction in the first place. Boredom can be defined as becoming restless and weary through lack of interest. There are many reasons boredom is dangerous for people in recovery:
* If people are bored with their life in recovery they may decide to return to their addiction. It is difficult for people to commit to a life that feels dull and tedious.
* Boredom can lead to symptoms of depression.
* If people are bored they may turn to food for solace. Consuming too many calories out of boredom it will lead to obesity and related health problems.
* If people are bored they may be tempted to turn to other maladaptive behaviors or addictions.
* When people have a lack of interesting things to do in their life, they may feel restless and irritable. This can put a strain on their relationships.
* Feeling bored depletes energy, decreasing the chances that the person will seize a future opportunity to engage in an interesting activity.
If people have no sense of purpose in their life, they may feel that nothing seems worth doing. A meaningless life is unsatisfying. When people are addicted to alcohol or drugs, they derive meaning from the substance. They do not have much time to think about anything else. Upon becoming sober, they may feel rudderless. It is vital that they find some purpose in life. For some people they can find meaning by adding more spirituality to their life. For example, they may commit more fully to the religion with which they grew up. Other people find meaning through the activities that interest them. Having things to do in recovery gives life meaning.
If people are serious about finding things to do in recovery it is vital that they approach this search with an open mind. If the individual has a long list of things they are not willing to consider, this will interfere with their success. It is best to be experimental and avoid dismissing things too quickly. It may be that suggestions that did not sound appealing at first turn out to be the most attractive. People can develop many preconceived notions that are based on irrational biases. When challenged, these notions fall apart. Having a closed mind to new things can be a real handicap for people in recovery.
* Many people find that blogging in recovery can be a wonderful hobby. Blogging allows the individual to connect with thousands (potentially even millions) of people and share their thoughts. It also provides many of the benefits of journaling. Another wonderful thing about a recovery blog is that it really can help other people who are struggling with their own addiction problems.
* Joining a recovery fellowship works well for many people recovering from an addiction. Regular attendance at such a group will mean that the individual is getting plenty of support and an opportunity to make new friends. Most of these fellowships offer some type of program that the individual can use to help them make the most of their sobriety. When people first become sober they will usually have a great deal of time on their hands. Attending fellowship meetings may be the most productive way to use this time.
* Learning meditation can be a life changing experience. Mindfulness in particular can be a good choice for those who are building a life away from alcohol and drugs. During the first few weeks of sobriety, it can be difficult to meditate. Those who persist with this technique will reap the rewards. Learning to meditate is not difficult, but it is still recommended that people join in a class as this will help to keep them motivated.
* Yoga can be a good activating to take up in recovery because it can benefit people physically, mentally, and spirituality. Yoga is most associated with the physical contortions (asanas) that people are able to get their body into, but this is only the tip of the ice-berg. Those individuals who take up this activity usually find that it can benefit almost every aspect of their life. Yoga is also a wonderful way to reduce stress.
* Physical activity like running and cycling are also a good choice for people who have given up alcohol and drugs. Those who have been addicted to alcohol or drugs will usually have witnessed a massive deterioration to their health. One of the joys of sobriety is to regain physical fitness and develop a sense of mastery over the body. These activities can also offer the opportunity to socialize.
* Taking up a martial art is another option that can benefit many areas of the individual’s life. There is plenty more to these activities than just self-defense. Some of them would be better described as a way of life. A martial art like tai chi can also be a type of moving meditation that helps people cope with stress.
* Helping other people is probably the most rewarding thing that anyone can do. This type of activity tends to benefit the person offering the help even more than receiver of that help. Alcoholics Anonymous was founded on the idea of this type of service. It is what keeps members strong. Those who belong to a 12 Step program will find that there are plenty of opportunities to do service. Other people may look for ways of offering assistance to people in need who live in their community. The other benefit of voluntary work is that it can be an avenue into paid employment.
* If people have been addicted to alcohol and drugs since their teenage years they may not have the skills and experience that will make them attractive to employers. This is why many sober people decide to return to education and get some more qualifications. This will open new job opportunities or increase chances of progressing in a current career. Some people who already have a good job decide to return to college because it is something they feel they missed out on.
* Developing a spiritual practice can work well for many people in recovery. It provides them with inner-strength and gives their life meaning. A spiritual practice does not need to be religious in nature. There are even atheists who benefit from spiritual practices such as meditation.
* There is a thriving online community made up of people recovering from addiction. These groups deal with every aspect of sobriety and can be a great resource. There is also a significant social element to these Internet groups. Online recovery discussion forums are particularly helpful.
They say that variety is the spice of life and this is certainly the case when it comes to finding things to do in recovery. It is not such a good idea if people only focus on one activity in sobriety. This could mean that they are swapping one addiction for another. All types of obsessive behavior can lead to problems later on. Becoming too focused on one activity usually requires neglecting other areas of life. Balance is essential, so it is recommended that the individual has a variety physical, some mental and spiritual interests at work.