So, what do you do when you are not drinking? Is there such a thing as recovery involving hobbies? Drinking used to take up most of your thoughts, your planning, your evenings and your weekends. Now you have stopped drinking but idle hands make Jack a dull boy. One lesson I learned about quitting is to never get bored – that is just plain dangerous!
Keeping Those Hands Busy
Your hands were always nursing a drink, pouring a drink and anticipating the next act of doing that. Now what? How do you give those hands something constructive to do? How do you kickstart your life with a fascinating hobby? How do you find a creative outlet for all that restless energy you now have?
I found this wonderful acronym in an article on The Fix called “Stop Drinking, Start Living.” Exactly! Start like this: get sober and find some useful activities:
B Be accountable – tell someone so that you are honest with yourself
A Avoid alcohol like the plague – change the ritual into a walk, a hot bath, gym classes
L Let yourself enjoy regular sober treats – adapt the ritual to an early supper, chocolates, juice
A Allow yourself to cry – alcohol dumbs you down
N Nourish your body with good food – drinkers avoid food or binge eat when drinking on junk foods
C Create happy & fun memories – drinking causes blackouts
E Enjoy the precious moments in your day – journal your day, look forward to meaningful events
W Work hard to get what you want – put new clean effort into your job
O Organise things for less stress – were you ever organised when drinking?
R Realise you can’t control it all – let things go
K Keep going & prepare for success – study something, do a course, try something new
S Sleep enough for body & mind rest – allow your sleep to come and indulge in it.
Stop Drinking, Start a Hobby
When you decide to stop drinking and start looking for new hobbies, be careful. Be mindful of replacing that addiction to the ritual and the alcohol with another addiction: to binging on cheese or to cleaning the floors all day or to walking hither and thither 10 times a day. Try to be self-aware and indulge your desires as they arise.
Boozemusings reckons that we should “not think of it as “replacing” alcohol, try to think of it instead as an entirely new life, an entirely new experience. All of those things you didn’t get to do because you were lethargic, hungover, apathetic, uninterested, busy drinking, or planning for your next drinking occasion? Do those things. Fill your days.”
Tribe Sober has got this! Some members are already immersed in hobbies and interests and new courses. Sheila joined a Biodanza conscious dance class and loved every minute, despite feeling very self-conscious! “It felt as if we were back in the school playground. Everyone was smiling and doing their own thing – there was no right or wrong and no correction. We are always told to “dance as if no one is looking“ and in this environment we were able to do exactly that. It was non-judgemental, heaps of fun, great gentle exercise and there was absolutely no socialising pressure. It was all about moving and getting in touch with your own body.”
Michelle Petersen asks the pertinent question, too, in her blog, “Whatever Happened to Hobbies?”
One of the biggest problems with addiction recovery is finding healthy ways to spend your time. Just about any hobby you find enjoyable can give you something positive to do instead of abusing drugs or alcohol. Don’t let work overtake your life and burn you out. Even if addiction recovery is not a problem for you, having the right hobby can improve your mental health. So start thinking about your childhood and exploring new hobbies. You’ll soon find one that works with your lifestyle and needs, which will lead to less stress. Doesn’t everyone need that in their life?
I asked our lovely bunch of Tribe Sober ladies what they do for fun now that they are not drinking. Wow, we have talent in our tribe! It is truly amazing how many artists and creatives we have in our group – alcohol steals your creativity; sobriety gives it back, and them some!
One member said how much her singing has improved: “alcohol makes the vocal chords feel raw. And at least I can remember the words now!”
Laura did hectic Zumba classes for ages but recently became an artist of note, painting small images of beauty of things in her life that stole her fancy. She also tried embroidery and seems to keep those fingers extra busy these days.
These are the amazing hobbies we have at Tribe Sober:
- Horse riding
- Crocheting and knitting
- Painting and embroidery
- Garden decorating
- Mosaics – indoor and outdoor
- Cooking and baking
- Charity work – animals and people
I must say that since I got sober, I have been on the go, trying to do a whole lot of new stuff. The first thing I did was sign up through INTEC College to do a course in Early Childhood Development, just because I could – and because it is one of my many interests. I volunteered at a local disadvantaged school and got the certificate.
Two years later I did a kids yoga course and ended up teaching yoga voluntarily at the same school! Two more years later, I started my recovery coaching course and here I am, still practicing before I can register and go forth as a certified coach!
There are several reasons for my urge to improve myself all the time. The main reason is that I am a busy active person and it counts in my life to be on the go, doing things that feel useful to me and my environment. Another reason is that I am an all or nothing person with an addictive personality, say what?!
Keep Boredom at Bay
Craig Beck, the Stop Drinking Expert, says that having hobbies is essential to hold boredom at bay. Not only will you keep your hands busy, but so too will “hobbies give you an opportunity to meet new people with whom you already have something in common. Even seemingly solo hobbies (knitting, painting, cooking, etc.) can take place in a group setting, too. All it takes is a quick internet search to find local classes or meetups designed for people who enjoy the same hobby as you.”
Remember that the opposite of addiction is connection. He adds that many hobbies are great for keeping your mind busy so that you avoid unhealthy or unproductive thoughts which might entice you back to the bottle. Thinking about your hobby also helps you learn to set goals and gives you something to work toward.
Self-improvement and self-image make huge strides with a great hobby as you achieve and create. Stress falls by the wayside as you create and relax.
Finding out which hobby is good for you:
- think of all the activities you enjoyed as a child and the new activities you enjoyed before the bottle took over.
- think about who you really are and which activities that suit your character.
- find out what hobbies your friends or family members may have.
- choose something you like to do, don’t let other people influence you into doing their hobby, just because.
Go forth and multiply them hobbies!