Why Hobbies Are Essential for Addiction Recovery

Men fishing relaxing while enjoying hobby. Fishing freshwater lake pond river. Fishermen in hats. Two male friends fishing together. Male hobby. I am retired. Activity and hobby

Recovering from an addiction can be challenging, and making the transition from a treatment facility to living at home requires special planning. Recovery involves finding new ways to spend time, developing new relationships with new people, and many times even developing a new identity. Hobbies are an essential part of these elements of recovery, and can make a tremendous difference in the success of recovery.

1. Hobbies Promote a Sense of Agency and Self-Worth

Engaging in a productive and enjoyable activity provides a sense of mastery, which promotes self-worth. Whether it be through painting, playing a sport, or taking cooking classes, hobbies during recovery allow us to learn new skills and set small, attainable goals on a regular basis. Staying occupied also helps to avoid boredom, which is a common trigger for relapse. Having a hobby to regularly schedule can be crucial for adding structure during a pandemic when so many of us are at home and isolated far more than usual.

2. Social Hobbies Increase Positive Peer Supports

Engaging in hobbies with other people, such as through a class or on a sports team, can help build friendships. Doing so can create a positive support system for when we experience stress or other triggers. Often, one of the crucial components for recovering from an addiction is finding new friends. While abusing substances, many people socialize with others who abuse substances. In order to remain sober, it is essential to find peer supports who are sober, emotionally healthy, and supportive. This can be challenging, and is one of the purposes of support groups. However, participating in social hobbies can be an easy way to meet new people while having fun.

While it may be difficult to find social hobbies during a pandemic, there are many options for online groups and classes. Depending on your interests and the area in which you live, there may be options for socially distanced in-person groups, like socially distanced hiking or socially distanced art classes.

3. Hobbies Provide a Buffer Against Negative Thoughts and Triggers

Participating in hobbies can bring more pleasure and joy to life, which can make us more resilient to life’s many stressors. Much of our mental health is about managing stressors and triggers. Sometimes we can avoid stressors, while other times we need to find ways to stay healthy while facing them. Resilience in the face of stress is impacted by many factors. These factors include a variety of coping skills, but we can also promote resilience by adding things to our lives that make us happy. These things can include spending time with positive people, repeating affirmations, and engaging in pleasurable activities – or hobbies. To this extent, hobbies can be a crucial part of self-care and help us to be resilient in the face of stressors and triggers.

4. Hobbies are an Essential Part of Developing a New Identity

Often, when recovering from substance abuse, people with addictions find that they must discover who they are without substances. This involves finding new friends, new sources of joy and pleasure, and new ways of spending time. Engaging in hobbies is a great way of assisting in the journey of self-discovery while recovering from addiction. Maybe you used to enjoy playing soccer, and you would like to try it again. Perhaps you have always wanted to try fine French cooking. Maybe you will find yourself searching through things to do and discover underwater hockey and decide to give that a try. Hobbies are an opportunity to explore. Some hobbies may stick, and some may not. They are meant to be fun, and we can learn new things about ourselves along the way.

Finding a hobby is essential to addiction recovery. Hobbies promote resilience, a sense of self-worth, aid in developing a new identity, and are a great way to find new friendships.

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