As the COVID-19 coronavirus crisis drags on, we’re all feeling a bit of pandemic fatigue. It’s not easy dealing with so much uncertainty—especially when you’re a person in treatment for a substance use disorder. At Mountain Laurel Recovery Center’s Pennsylvania residential addiction treatment program, we encourage our clients to turn to sober hobbies as a form of stress relief and mental health support. In this post, we share some affordable and social-distancing-friendly hobbies and activities to explore.
1. Cooking and Baking
Since experts tell us dining at restaurants is one of the most dangerous things you can do during the pandemic, now is the perfect time to improve your skills in the kitchen. Good nutrition is a vital part of the recovery process because it helps the body repair damage from past substance abuse while working to stabilize your mood and boost your energy. Preparing your meals at home gives you full control over the ingredients—making it easier to continue the wellness-focused habits you developed in residential treatment.
Baking bread was so popular in the initial stages of the pandemic that there were widespread yeast shortages, but you have a number of options for your culinary adventures. Try to replicate dishes from your favorite restaurants at home, ask family members for their tried and true recipes, explore cuisine from other cultures, or hop on Pinterest to see what recipes catch your eye.
Nurturing plants from seeds can be immensely satisfying during times of global uncertainty. Gardening also lets you get outdoors and spend time working with your hands—two things that have long been proven to help you reach your recovery goals.
If you don’t have a yard, don’t assume your gardening dreams can’t happen. Fresh herbs can be grown in tiny pots and larger containers are perfect for tomatoes, peppers, lettuce, or carrots. With a little creativity, a patio or sunny windowsill can be transformed into a mini garden, even in winter. You can also try your hand at growing a few plants with air-purifying properties to help keep your home a safe and germ-free place.
3. Outdoor Sports
Physical activity is a proven mood booster, and you have a much lower risk of coronavirus infection when you’re outdoors. Activities like hiking, biking, and swimming can be enjoyed by people of all fitness levels.
It becomes more challenging to enjoy outdoor sports when the temperature drops, but it’s not impossible. For example, running outdoors in the winter can be a fabulous workout if you take all the appropriate safety precautions. Ice skating or sledding with your kids lets you work up a sweat while strengthening family bonds.
4. Arts and Crafts
Getting in touch with your creative side has become more popular than ever during the pandemic. While doing arts and crafts at home isn’t quite the same as taking part in an art therapy session led by a trained professional, the stress-relieving benefits of creative activities and hobbies can still help support your recovery efforts.
Adult coloring books continue to be a popular pastime that requires little or no artistic skill to get started. If you’re interested in more of a challenge, try watercolor or acrylic painting. You can find a number of free tutorials online, as well as free live classes held via Zoom through the Michaels website.
Other popular arts and crafts hobbies that require minimal supplies to get started include crocheting, knitting, origami, candle making, wood burning, or wood carving. If you have children at home, kid’s crafts such as making slime or creating figures from a simple salt dough are fun for the whole family.
With many TV and movie studios delaying production due to COVID-19, you may be struggling to find something to watch on your favorite streaming platform. Now is the time to pick up a book and expand your horizons. You can escape into a fantasy or romance novel or pick up a non-fiction title and learn something new about a subject you’ve always found interesting. (If you’re in the early stages of recovery and still finding it hard to concentrate, audiobooks can be a wonderful alternative. Most public libraries offer both e-book and audiobook loans.)
Reading is inherently a solitary activity, but starting a virtual book club can be a way to connect with friends during the pandemic. Or, if you want to meet new people, try joining one of the many popular online book clubs for readers around the world
6. Board Games and Card Games
Enjoying a classic game night with your family or those in your quarantine pod is a great way to pass the time while making special memories. You can stick to classics like Monopoly, Scrabble, or Yahtzee, or branch out to try newer games like Codenames, What Do You Meme, or Exploding Kittens. Board Game Geek has a number of game reviews to help you choose a title that fits your interests, as well as resources for purchasing more obscure games that are currently out of print.
If your friends and family are scattered in different locations, hosting a game night via Zoom or FaceTime can let you enjoy spending time together while sharing new hobbies. It is surprisingly easy to adapt popular games for remote play.