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How Activities Help My Sobriety

 

Sober Activities As recovering addicts we often face challenging, imposing lives full of new responsibilities and a scary void of empty time to fill.  While in rehab and addiction treatment programs, my days were structured for me.  At times frustrating, this often all-encompassing mentality of having my time managed by others served me well.  I would not have done nearly half of the requirements or suggested practices learned in classes if I had it my way and chosen a selective schedule.  Now out of the daily structured program and having my schedule greatly opened has provided me some roadblocks in my attempts to figure out how to stay busy, and, more importantly, stay sober.

People well-endowed in their sobriety have provided me a repeated and congruent statement: “Find activities and hobbies that make you feel good and lead toward bettering your health and recovery.”  Being a young adult fresh out of treatment, my OCD brain quickly floods my head with grandiose thoughts.  “Get a job.  Find a wife.  Start a family.”  Sure, these are all things I want and now that I have a better grasp of what a healthy life looks like I hope they are on my eventual horizon.

However, I think both I and others often bite off more than we can chew upon leaving treatment.  I love the statement, “Keep it simple, stupid.”  It doesn’t sound like much but it is a mantra I am currently trying to pound into my head on a daily basis.  Sure, addiction robbed many of us of countless experiences, jobs, family and friend relationships, and our livelihood.  Seeking to regain a sense of ourselves and what we want out of life can be overwhelming.  I am going to include my own current activities and hobby adventures to try to help anyone else (and there are many of us) in the same predicament to fill our free time.

I would and do argue that mental health is as important as physical health in the process of recovery.  Both contribute to our positive psyche of “doing something/anything” positive in our new lives.  In my opinion, some people get caught in the mental battle of “I’m not that person anymore and I have to do everything differently in my life.”  Yes, one does have to change, with the help of our therapists, meetings, and support networks, but sometimes the best way to find new activities is to try to remember what we once loved to do before our battles with addiction and mental illness.

For me, I loved and continue to love any activity involving physical exertion and team camaraderie.  I was a multisport athlete for all of my life and working to achieve a team goal with others always made me feel a sense of pride and accomplishment.  Recently, in a rather spur-of-the-moment decision, I signed up to join three co-ed recreation sports leagues.  I used to play in these types of leagues before my battles with addiction and depression and found they provided a great outlet to the stress of everyday life.

Getting outside for any activity provides such great benefit.  How many times did I hear in treatment about how just getting outside for ten minutes a day to walk around in the sun would be of great benefit to my mental and physical health?  Being outside and in nature is a great remedy for depression.  Whether I am playing in one of my leagues or going on a hike, feeling sweat on my brow and the endorphins in my blood makes me feel great.  I feel inspired to push myself to new physical limits and I gain a sense of confidence to TRY NEW THINGS.  I have felt so hopeless at times in my life that any little bit of motivation to be involved in new activities gives me a reinvigorated sense of accomplishment.  Even if I have yet to try a new activity I still feel that I will give myself a chance to succeed – building upon the old sense of confidence I often felt I had lost during my struggles with addiction.

Starting slow is pivotal to maintaining a realistic approach to new activities and hobbies that is oftentimes overlooked.  I don’t have to be the best at something to feel proud; I only have to put one foot in front of the other and convince myself that what I am doing will benefit my mental and physical health.  These baby steps have allowed me to begin to look to service organizations as another outlet for my free time.

A service organization usually does not have rigid time requirements that make us feel trapped or obligated to commit more of our time than we’re currently comfortable to share.  I have reached out to my friends and others who have and who currently are experiencing the same tasks to fill their days.  Participating in a service organization, either on my own or with a friend, makes me feel proud to be doing anything at all.  Positive results of being involved with a service organization includes a sense of accomplishment, contributing to and helping the less fortunate, and hopefully, making ourselves better people by getting outside of our egos.

Hobbies are also a great means to stay active, healthy, and productive.  A hobby can be defined as any activity that people do for pleasure rather than as an occupation.  In my experience, choosing certain activities must be done while reminding ourselves that we are not only doing something just to stay busy, but instead are using our time in ways that makes us simply and purely happy.  Time flies by when we do things in which we become enmeshed because we are content in the fact that we are having a good time.

I oftentimes get deflated when I am sitting at home mindlessly flipping through the television channels.  I really have no interest in what I’m watching; instead, I’m merely “killing time.”  My battle has been to recognize when I am feeling worthless like this and making a conscious decision to do something about it.  Here, the support of the right people cannot be overlooked.  Just as I look to my therapist for advice on how to deal with depression, I look to key friends for inspiration, support, and motivation.  I don’t envy what they are doing; rather I respect their accomplishments and know they do the same for mine.

Meeting new people by participating in activities allows me to grow my network and gives me more people whom I can trust.  I can bounce new ideas off of them as we brainstorm about how to stay busy and find new sources of happiness and fulfillment when doing so.

There are certain warning signs to be aware of when attempting to prevent complacency and boredom, as well as the frustration that comes with trying to fill empty time.  I’ve joined sports leagues that are co-ed to meet new male and female friends and build new friendships, and always make sure that the leagues are non-alcoholic.  I do not want the drama, ego, and fights that come with alcoholic people.

I’ve joined service organizations because everyone there is doing something simple to make the world a better place.  I am not around negative detractors of my mental and physical health who can serve to impede my recovery and lead me back to depression.  Positive people make any activity or hobby a better time by reinforcing laughter, happiness, and commitment to doing something greater than themselves.

I hope my new activities will make me happy and that I will continue to have faith in my ability to be a better person as I continue to better my mental and physical health.

 

By Chase A

 

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Filed under: Featured, Life, Recovery · Tags: activities, addict, Addiction, alcoholic, alcoholism, charity, depression, family, friends, health, hobbies, hobby, mental health, motivation, obsessive compulsive disorder, ocd, physical health, positive thinking, productive, productivity, recovering addict, Recovery, rehab, service, service organizations, sober, sobriety, therapists, therapy, Treatment

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