Scoring a fresh start through recovery may seem overwhelming when you’re trying to get into a new routine of healthy habits. Initially, you may only be able to focus on one thing per day such as meeting with a counselor or making yourself breakfast. Many prioritize removing negative habits instead of worrying about adding positive changes. Hobbies can help support your long-term recovery though.
The Benefits of Having a Hobby in Recovery
When a person comes out of treatment, they may feel motivated but lost. They want to live a substance-free life, but their life before substance use disorder (SUD) is gone. Addiction harms your mental, physical, and social health. Finding a hobby during recovery can help you heal from these wounds. Potential benefits include:
- Stress relief
- Feelings of accomplishment or sense of worth
- Focus on future or upcoming goals
- Decreased anxiety and depression
- Insight into different perspectives
Through these benefits, hobbies can ground you, focus you, and keep you safe. These mental and physical benefits apply even if you engage with them once a week at the start. You may find yourself engaging in them multiple times a week if you enjoy them.
Hobbies to Try Out
If you’ve decided you want to pick up a hobby to help maintain your recovery, you might need help deciding on one that suits your time, ability level, and personality. You have many options to choose from. Here are four common hobbies to consider:
If you’re looking to do something that will help others as much as it helps you, then volunteering is the way to go. The possibilities are endless when you look at the volunteer options in your community. Common options include working at the following:
- Local food banks
- Animal shelters
- The American Red Cross
- Faith organizations
- Disaster relief organizations
Not only can volunteering give you a sense of purpose and redemption, but it can help you meet new people. This is important because spending time with the same crowd from your past can cause you to face relapse triggers. Volunteering gives you more time to connect with like-minded people and less time to think about relapsing.
Additionally, you’ll likely experience fewer negative mental health symptoms when volunteering. A 2017 study in BMC Public Health shows that volunteering could result in an 8.5% increase in mental health and a 4.3% decrease in depression. Recovery can have good days and bad days but getting out and doing good deeds can no doubt help decrease those bad days.
Reading allows you to venture into experiences beyond your own, making it an ideal hobby. You can choose to read for enjoyment, for education, or for connection. The connection may feel especially strong if the author’s story discusses their sobriety journey. You don’t need to read about addiction, though; you can benefit from reading any kind of story.
Your mental and physical health improves when you read. Doctors suggest reading as part of a nighttime routine to improve sleep quality. On top of this, the element of escapism can decrease symptoms of stress and anxiety. Reading a book exercises the most vital organ in our body. Lastly, it promotes brain plasticity by improving your vocabulary.
These benefits aren’t limited to printed books. E-books and audiobooks offer the same perks, so don’t feel discouraged if you need one of these formats to read.
Writing as a hobby can promote healing and create a sense of release as you explore your highs, lows, and everything in between. You can explore many topics in your journal. One day you could navigate the events that may have happened in your past, and the other day you may write about current or future events that concern, excite, or overwhelm you. Moreover, writing about things you are grateful for each day can give you a positive outlook.
Keeping either a digital or paper journal allows you to self-reflect and analyze your progress over time. Potential writing prompts include:
- “My goals for today are…”
- “My future long-term goals are…”
- “Dear past me…”
- “Dear future me…”
- “I’m sorry for…”
- “Today, I am grateful for…”
Writing is a powerful tool for anyone looking to improve their mental health. Still, the process can feel challenging at times. Keeping your journal entries confidential will help you stay honest, which is necessary to grow and learn. You may choose to share them with a therapist though to help you reflect on your mental state.
In recovery, you can explore activities such as hiking, yoga, swimming, and martial arts. Moving your body can provide physical benefits like better heart health and more energy. The physical improvements will keep you going throughout your daily responsibilities.
Exercising also offers natural dopamine, noradrenaline, and serotonin releases that can improve your mood. It’s a non-medicated way to help improve your mental health symptoms. As you master new aspects of a sport, you may feel more confident in yourself. You can channel your emotions through physical activities to release pent-up stress.
If you live with a disability, you may feel like you cannot exercise. Many sports leagues exist for people with disabilities to play together with accommodations though. You can also individually participate in exercises modified to fit your ability level.
Finding Hobbies That Work for You
Overall, the benefits of finding a hobby in recovery are unmatched. Participating in activities regularly can allow you to focus on your strengths or simply escape sometimes. Starting a new hobby can be scary or daunting at first, but, if you stick with it, you’ll surely find something that you enjoy. You’ll never know until you try.
Hobbies promote personal growth, positive mental health, and healthy social connection. They can quickly turn into a key element of your recovery. Choosing one that interests you can help you get out of bed in the morning on difficult days. At Restoration Recovery Center, we understand that complex mental health issues need multiple forms of treatment, so we treat all forms of wellness. Our treatment programs can help you find hobbies that promote your recovery. We offer holistic activities, allowing you to explore new interests. Our beautiful location in the foothills of the Sierra Nevadas allows for hiking, kayaking, and more. In addition to our holistic modalities, we provide more traditional therapies like cognitive-behavioral therapy and interpersonal therapy. These will address the root of your SUD. For more information on how Restoration Recovery Center can help you recover from addiction and discover the joys of sobriety, call (888) 290-0925.