During rehabilitation support counseling, we are frequently advised to replace old habits with new, healthy activities. Typically, this refers to a new hobby or interest meant to redirect our thoughts from boredom following a commitment to sobriety and detox.
This is important advice and worth looking into, assuming we have a point of reference to fall back to. Depending on your childhood, your hobbies or interests might not have been encouraged or nurtured. Alternatively, depending on the length of time you were engaged in substance abuse, prior interests might be tucked deep into the back corner of your mind waiting for you to come along and knock the dust off.
The Problem with Addiction
Most of us have been told chapter and verse about the effect of substance abuse on our bodies, relationships, finances, and other critical areas of our life. Comparatively, little is mentioned about its destructive side effect on our interests.
When our priorities are governed by a preoccupation for a substance of choice, that becomes our lifestyle. The drugs become our primary interest, along with the lifestyle and risky behaviors that accompany it.
Substance abuse, including alcohol abuse, effectively strips us of our energy, finances, and desire to engage in anything beyond our next drink or fix. It envelops our world, strangling the breath from anything else we might become.
Favorite Waste of Time
As a child, hopefully, you got to play and enjoy life. As adults, the play tends to go out of life as work takes over leisure, and the interests that other people might have praised us for—such as dancing or art—begin to disappear from the forefront of our minds.
We may need to re-learn how to have a sense of fun and understand that there can be moments where it is okay to waste time and enjoy an activity for the sake of itself. There is a place within those moments where we become our true selves, a little of who we were meant to be. Addiction, most likely, is not it.
Pushing Aside the Important Stuff
Picking up a hobby might seem unimportant, especially in light of everything else competing for attention on your to-do list.
There aren’t enough hours in the day. You have to think about a new place to live, a new job, or begging your boss for your old job back. You might not have the funds.
- But what about a mere fifteen minutes of doodling on paper?
- Take some pics on your smartphone, edit them, and maybe even upload them onto a photo site.
- How about flipping open that Kindle app and indulging in a ten-minute read once or twice a day?
- Plant some flowers. There are some excellent and inexpensive container gardening ideas these days. Nurturing flowers from seeds or bulbs can be very rewarding and can be done from a forty-acre lot or a four-foot balcony!
The above suggestions provide a place to begin right now. Each of those is accessible, sustainable, and doesn’t require massive amounts of advance social or financial planning.
The Importance of Mental Health
Refocusing our attention away from addictive pursuits and behaviors, discovering hobbies and interests can be great at filling in those gaps. However, there are other benefits to pursuing interests.
Taking time out produces a relaxing effect on the mind, effectively opening us up to ideas. The pressure is off, and from nowhere it seems, along comes that creative idea or the solution to a problem worrying us for days. In this way, the brain dumps out stress without making a conscious effort to do so. The less stress, the better your mental health. The greater your mental health and resilience, the less likely you will be triggered into relapsing behavior.
A hobby—particularly when it leads to new, healthy relationships—can provide a means to focus energies away from managing addiction and remind you that life can be fun and is worth getting out of bed and staying sober for.
During recovery, hobbies and interests take our minds off our addictions and help replace bad habits with new, healthy ones. Hobbies also provide opportunities to dissolve stress, refocus negative thought patterns, and find enjoyment through the discovery of new talents and passions. Hobbies don’t need to be expensive or require lots of time. Don’t wait until everything in life fits into place. The best hobbies fit easily into where you are right now and can be sustained for some time. Surrounded by the Rocky Mountains’ inspiring landscape, the Detox Center of Colorado offers a solution-based transitional residence program aimed at accountability and recovery. No matter how far you’ve come on your journey to substance abuse or mental health recovery, we look forward to helping you explore the range of supportive treatment and aftercare options available to you. Call the Detox Center of Colorado at (303) 952-5035. It may be the best thing you do for yourself today.