When patients leave treatment here at The River Source, some are worried about how they will keep themselves busy as they integrate back into home, work and school life. This can be particularly hard for those who enjoyed the warm, sunny Arizona weather and must return to a cold or rainy climate. In states like Arizona, you can practically go for a run almost any day of the week, but in other states, you’re more likely to be confined to the home, which can lead to boredom and isolation.
If you’re concerned about yourself or a loved one returning home from treatment after being in a warm, sunny climate, you’re not alone. The key is to find healthy, constructive activities that will fill the time and offer the benefits of meaning and purpose in life, connecting with others and improving mental and physical well-being.
Dangers of Boredom
Having too much free time is not healthy in early recovery. We understand that some addicts and alcoholics and their families want to keep things as easy and stress-free as possible, but there must be some balance. Some of the dangers of boredom include:
- Comfort eating
- Dissatisfaction with recovery
What often happens when a recovering addict or alcoholic has too much time on their hands is that they start thinking about all the good times they had with their drug of choice. They then become resentful about having to get clean and sober, and they treat recovery like a prison sentence. Naturally, it’s not fun to sit around the home with little interaction or stimulation, so it’s easy to fall into this trap. Addicts and alcoholics, while fragile, still need to be treated like everyday people.
Benefits of a Developing a Hobby
Developing a hobby is a wonderful way to find meaning and purpose in life. If recovering addicts and alcoholics cannot find this, it will be nearly impossible for them to build a successful life in recovery. They may experience something called dry drunk syndrome, which is where the alcoholic stops drinking but don’t embrace sober living.
Recovering addicts and alcoholics now need to find something new to do with their time and fill this void. That’s why hobbies become very important. Benefits of activities include:
- Effective ways to unwind and relax
- Opportunity to meet other people
- Opportunity to develop new skills
- Discover hidden talents
- Chance to be creative
- Turn the hobby into a part-time job
- Fun and enjoyable
Finding Healthy Hobbies
It’s probably been years since you or a loved one last enjoyed a hobby. Addiction robs people of their passion for life, and one of the first things that are lost is the enjoyment of activities. In order to find healthy, meaningful activities, start with these suggestions:
- Think about the things you used to enjoy before the addiction. There is no reason why you can’t return to these hobbies and rekindle your love and appreciation for them.
- Research hobbies online. For instance, if you’re a crafty person, love to cook/bake or enjoy getting organized, Pinterest is a great place to find motivation for a new project.
- Ask others what they are interested in. If your friend is in a book club that meets a couple nights a week or your sibling is in a spinning class, ask if you can tag along. Not only will you have a friend to ease you into the group, but also you can try a lot of new activities without committing.
- Look through park district classes. Most communities offer classes at their local park district or library for a low cost or free, so check them out and see if any interest you. Plus, you can meet other people in the community.
- Develop friendships with AA members. Ask the members in your AA or NA group what types of activities they enjoy doing. When they see that you are interested in finding a new hobby, they will likely ask you along to the movies, yoga classes, etc.
- Volunteer your time. If you can’t find a hobby that you want to do right now, donate your time to an organization in your area. Nonprofit organizations run on tight budgets and welcome help in all kinds of forms.
- Find ways to be needed. You probably have a lot of relationships to mend and a reputation to improve, so work on helping others in your family. Offer to take your grandparents’ dog out while they’re at work or handle the grocery shopping for your household. These tasks fill your time and have purpose, and you could potentially find new hobbies through them.