Escaping addiction is a great start, but it is not enough alone to ensure a satisfying life in recovery. This is because life has to have meaning and purpose in order for it to be enjoyable. Hobbies are more than just a way to fill time. They provide pleasure and improve mental and physical well-being. These activities can give life in recovery a real purpose, and this will reduce the risk of relapse. It is possible that people can become too obsessive about their hobbies so the key is moderation.
A hobby refers to any activity that people do for pleasure rather than as an occupation. Some of these activities will be physical in nature (e.g. sports) while others will be mostly mental (e.g. reading). Some people do make money from their hobby, and it may later become their full-time occupation.
Boredom occurs when people find nothing of interest in their surrounding environment. This lack of interest will be experienced as feelings of weariness. People will usually feel bored if:
* They are not able to do something they want to
* They are forced to do something they do not want to
* They are just no interested in their current activity or surroundings
Feeling bored is a dangerous emotion for people in recovery because it can lead to:
* Comfort eating which may lead to obesity and ill-health
* Dissatisfaction with recovery. This may mean that people may begin to romance the drink or drug; they remember the “good times”.
* Boredom can lead to feelings of anger. When people are angry they will be unable to think rationally. This means that they will be more at risk of relapse.
* Dry drunk syndrome. This is occurs when the only change the individual makes is to stop drinking. Instead of finding happiness in recovery they treat it like a prison sentence.
The dangers of boredom emphasize the importance of having meaningful things to do in recovery.
If people feel that their life has no meaning and purpose they will find it impossible to build a successful life in recovery. During their years of addiction the focus would have been on obtaining and using their drug of choice. Now that they are sober this focal point for their life will be missing. It is therefore vital that they replace this hole in their life with something new. People will find meaning in different ways. Some will turn to religion or spiritual pursuits. Finding interesting things to do is also a wonderful way to give life a purpose. The more meaning that people find in recovery the less likely it will be that they will relapse.
Hobbies are beneficial in a number of ways including:
* They are a good way to unwind and relax. The dangers of stress are well documented and hobbies are effective outlet for this. In order for people to have good mental health they need to have interesting things to do in their life.
* Hobbies are a great way to meet other people. The internet has made it even easier to meet other individuals who share similar passions.
* These activities will often allow people to discover talents that they were not aware of previously.
* Many people nowadays manage to turn their hobbies into a full-time occupation. Those individuals who get paid to do what they love will never have to work a day in their life.
* Hobbies give people the opportunity to develop new skills.
* These activities will often give people the opportunity to be creative. Humans tend to find that nurturing their creative side is highly rewarding.
* Hobbies are just great fun, and this alone is enough reason to have them.
When people are newly sober they may have no idea about how they will fill their time. During their years of addiction they would have had little time or energy for hobbies. Substance abuse robs people of much of the enjoyment in life; one of the first things to go is meaningful activities. It may be many years since the individual had any type of hobby. Here are a few suggestions for how they can find rewarding ways to spend their time:
* A good place to start is for people to think about the things they once enjoyed doing before falling into substance abuse. There is usually no reason why they can’t rekindle their interest in these hobbies now that they are sober. It is common for people to be surprised by just how pleasurable it is to return to these old interests.
* Brainstorming is a wonderful way to generate a lot of activity options. The way this technique works is that the individual just writes down every activity that comes into their head. They should make now attempt to filter these ideas in any way. Once they have finished brainstorming they can then go back and cross of those items that are inappropriate. This method can be even more effective if other people join in the process.
* Finding meaningful activities is usually a process of trial and error. This is because each individual is unique. In order to find something appropriate it is vital that people are willing to experiment. It is easy for the individual to come up with excuses to not try new things, but this is just going to interfere with their ability to find happiness in life.
* If people are stuck for inspiration they will find plenty of hobby ideas online.
* It is beneficial if people have more than one hobby. It is good idea to have a mix of activities that are both mentally and physically challenging. Having more than one hobby should also make it less likely that they become an addiction substitution.
Addiction substitution is when people replace their obsession for alcohol or drugs with an obsession for something else. They may become addicted to exercise or spend every waking minute surfing the internet. Sobriety is all about finding balance in life and people who do anything excessively will be able to find this. Addiction substitution means that hobbies can become a liability rather than an asset to people’s life. It is therefore vital that they have a healthy relationship with these activities. The purpose of hobbies is to make living more enjoyable, and they should not be used as a means to avoid responsibilities.