Why Finding New Hobbies Is Important for Long-Term Recovery
If you’re just getting started with recovery, it can be a lonely experience. The first thing that most of us realize is that we have lost our hobbies, the things we do with our spare time, and many of our friends. That can put you in a position where you don’t know what to do with your spare time and that can leave you feeling bored, lonely, and unfulfilled. Those and other reasons are part of why it’s important to find hobbies for your long-term recovery.
You’re probably accustomed to people pushing anything they can at you in recovery. Crafts, yoga, music, painting – pretty much anything. That’s often because picking up new hobbies can be immensely good for you, for your self-esteem, and for your recovery. At the same time, it’s also important for you to find hobbies and to move at your own pace, so you can invest as you’re ready to do so.
Hobbies Build Your Self-Esteem
Starting and sticking to a hobby can boost your self-esteem and your confidence. Both of those are an important part of long-term recovery. However, hobbies can help you to build those skills in a natural way, which will in turn influence your behavior, attitude towards recovery, and your approach towards your life. Hobbies give you something to work on for yourself, meaning you can start out being proud that you’re sticking to something that you’re not yet good at, learn to be good at things, and build your skills – increasing your confidence not just in your ability to do the hobby well but also your ability to learn new things, to get good at things you started out being bad at, and to understand how you progress at those new skills.
That’s even more true if you make that a social hobby, like pottery or dancing, where you’ll get into contact with others and you’ll be able to grow as a group.
Hobbies Build Your Self-Discipline
Hobbies can require significant self-discipline. That can mean emotional regulation and managing your emotions when you fail. It can mean discipline and practice and ensuring that you keep going, keep making classes, keep practicing. It can also mean sticking with a schedule and a program so that you do actually learn. All of that will help you to develop your sense of discipline, which will transfer to other parts of your life.
Being Comfortable with Yourself Alone
Being comfortable alone and by yourself also means knowing what to do with yourself. And, knowing what to do with yourself means having an idea of what you like, what you’re good at, and what makes you feel like you’re spending your time in a way that you want. Investing in hobbies means that you’ll be able to build those skills and figure out what is a good way for you to spend your time. For example, you might find out that you really like making things with your hands. You might find out that bullet journalling is a great way to help you feel in control of your agenda. You might also decide you like getting to move and exercise. Knowing what you can fill your time with when you’re alone will make you feel less alone because you’ll be more open to spending time with yourself. And, that’s important even if your preferred hobbies are something like watching TV or reading a book rather than making something. Knowing how to keep yourself company is important, and many people just out of rehab don’t know how to do that.
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Do you know how to have fun with your free time without drugs and alcohol? For most of us, long-term substance abuse means we’ve mostly forgotten. Sure you used to have hobbies and you might even want to go back to those, but remembering how to just sit down and have fun with something or with people without any substances can be hard. Building hobbies means you’ll get to find that again, to build up to it slowly, and to learn how to have fun with nothing but what your brain produces naturally. Of course, that might not happen right away. Many people actually experience emotional blunting in early recovery, where the brain is incapable of correctly regulating serotonin and dopamine, which means that it can feel like you feel nothing at all when you think you should be enjoying yourself. Hobbies help with that further by building up slowly – you’ll start out in positions of not being good at what you’re doing and the enjoyment will come with practice -and that’s perfect for learning how to enjoy yourself again.
Finding new Coping Mechanisms
Most people don’t think of a hobby as a coping mechanism. However, once you start a hobby, even something like knitting can help you to stay clean and sober. Why? It gives you something to fill your free time with without getting bored. It forces you to concentrate and do something with your hands, which can help you wait out cravings. It gives you something to de-stress with (although that will require a certain amount of fluency with the hobby). You won’t try to play guitar and feel less stressed a week into learning, btu long-term, it will give you something to turn to in order to reduce stress and to relax. And all of that can be a powerful addition to your recovery now and for the long-term.
Meeting New People and Friends
Having hobbies is an important part of meeting people, of finding people you have things in common with, and of sharing achievements and goals. People who share hobbies feel more emotionally fulfilled, more connected, and more in-touch with those around them. That’s especially true when you turn to physical hobbies like dance, yoga, martial arts, etc. However, you can share a lot with your class even with something simple like sharing a pottery class, learning to play a game together, meeting up with a group of people to play boardgames once a week, or learning cooking together. Of course, not every hobby should be with other people. At the same time, ensuring that at least some of what you do with your free time is social can be a great way to add that connection into your life – and that will be good for your long-term recovery. Most importantly, hobbies don’t have to be about other people in order to include them, because groups, classes, and meetups are all extremely common and you can just look for one and join it.
New hobbies can be hard to start. It can be difficult to figure out what you like. And there’s a lot that goes into trying new things, figuring out what you want to stick to, and then doing so. At the same time, taking that time and investing in finding new hobbies can help you to improve your quality of life, improve your recovery, and give yourself coping mechanisms for the long-term. Not every hobby will be good for you or good for your recovery. However, finding something you can invest in, can stick to, and can work on improving at will improve your sense of self-esteem and confidence, your discipline, will broaden your social circle, will help you feel connected to yourself and others, and will give you a way to have fun, while reducing stress levels. And, all of that will be good for your recovery.
If you or your loved-one struggles from alcoholism or other substance abuse please contact us today and speak with one of our experienced and professional intake advisors about our alcohol rehab, detox, partial hospitalization, and residential treatment programs. 10 Acre Ranch also has specialty tracks like our pet friendly drug rehab and couples substance abuse treatment programs. We’re here to help you recover.