Hobbies and Sobriety – there is a Link

 

I have met many people who have stopped drinking and started incredible hobbies. They find hobbies that suit their personalities, their mental health needs, and their physical health dreams.

I too stopped drinking 7 years ago and I now have numerous hobbies and I especially love being outdoors: hiking, walking, gardening, yoga. I also love reading fiction dramas and the odd non-fiction book about something spiritual or something surreal or more important than me.

I asked myself how these hobbies started and why hobbies are so important to people who do not drink.

There are hundreds of reasons but the main reason is that people who quit the booze get a new lease on life, regaining lost energies and focus. They can see just what their emotional, mental, and physical health needs are. People are social creatures so yes, we need each other. We also need love, and physical intimacy and we need time alone. We need hobbies that feed our brains, our hearts, and our bodies.

These are some of the hobbies that my friends have, who have been sober for 6 months or longer:

  • Read books for pure pleasure
  • Play the cello
  • Hiking in the woods
  • Forest walking
  • Ride horses as a passion, hobby, job, sport
  • Hiking, running, trail running
  • Art
  • Stand-up paddleboarding to calm the mind
  • Swimming for better sleep, calming, and mental health.

Hobbies make us Happy

One thing I have learned is that having hobbies is enriching and fills my days with joy – over and above my jobs which I love (I am a writer in travel, environment, education, and sobriety!).

According to American Addiction Centers AlcoholRehab.com, “life has to have meaning and purpose in order for it to be enjoyable. Hobbies are more than just a way to fill time. They provide pleasure and improve mental and physical well-being. These activities can give life in recovery a real purpose, and this will reduce the risk of relapse. It is possible that people can become too obsessive about their hobbies so the key is moderation.”

I agree – a hobby is something we do for pleasure, not for money, usually! Some people are lucky enough to be able to transform their hobby into their life purpose and make money to live off what they love doing most.

It is not good to be bored during recovery from alcohol drinking because it can cause depression, comfort eating, irritability, living in the past, and resentment that the drinking had to stop.

Hobbies in Long-Term Recovery

How do hobbies help if you have stopped drinking?

  • They are a good way to unwind and relax. Hobbies reduce stress as they add interest and wonder to our lives.
  • Hobbies are a great way to meet other people. The internet has made it even easier to meet other individuals who share similar passions. And you can join groups in your area to connect with like-minded people.
  • Discover talents that you were not even aware that you had.
  • Many people nowadays manage to turn their hobbies into a full-time businesses – paid to do what they love will never have to work a day in their life.
  • Hobbies give people the opportunity to develop new skills.
  • Get creative – this is highly rewarding.
  • Hobbies are just great fun, and this alone is enough reason to have them.

Even if you are not in recovery having a hobby or two is a perfect idea! Hobbies help everyone to lead a more balanced life – people need physical, mental, and emotional stimulation and each one of these personal dimensions benefit differently in different people’s lives. The most important part is that hobbies bring pleasure and joy to your life, a personal kind of happiness.

Some hobbies entail joining a group that adds social perspective and connection to your life where you make new friends and feel accepted and have a sense of belonging which is essential to human survival and health.

Hobbies Boost those Happy Hormones

Happy hormones are so important to the human psyche, regulating moods, depression, joy, and holistic health. Going hiking, swimming, doing art, or learning a language can boost these neurotransmitters.

According to Healthline, our happy hormones include:

  • Dopamine: known as the “feel-good” hormone, it is a neurotransmitter that’s an important part of your brain’s reward system. It’s associated with pleasurable sensations, learning, memory, and more.
  • Serotonin: a hormone and neurotransmitter that helps regulate your mood as well as your sleep, appetite, digestion, learning ability, and memory.
  • Oxytocin: essential for childbirth, breastfeeding, and strong parent-child bonding. It can also help promote trust, empathy, and bonding in relationships. Levels generally increase with physical affection.
  • Endorphins: hormones acting as the body’s natural pain reliever, which your body produces in response to stress or discomfort. Levels may also increase when you engage in reward-producing activities such as eating, working out, or having sex.

Hobbies help to relieve stress and anxiety simply by diverting thoughts away from the causes of the stress, creating a balance between work and life, helping the brain to reset and move onto something else, and it brings untold joy.

Turn everyday habits into hobbies: cooking can become a hobby and you can join a group or a team of cooks; walking the dog could become a hobby where you walk dogs or meet with similar dog walkers in different locations; gardening could become something more focused e.g., roses or bonsais; reading could meaning joining a book club and embroidery could mean joining a group and crafting for markets and so on.

Think back to what you loved doing as a child and maybe reinvent that hobby – it might have been Lego or building model airplanes, rollerblading, kite flying, or skateboarding.  No one ever said those things were for kids only!

Or try something new and get out of your comfort zone completely! You may want to try a new sport, a new craft, a new course. Or join a charity and give unto others. Go for it. No one can ‘fail’ at having a hobby and that is not the point, is it? We want to win in our lives as individuals.

My message is this: if you have recently stopped drinking and are on the long-term, forever sober bus, then find a new hobby that consumes you. It will take you away from that drinking life into a new life of joy and friendships and you may even develop a passion for something you never thought you loved.

 

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