Boredom is well-recognized as a trigger for cravings. Unfortunately, filling your days in the early stages of recovery can be a challenge. Once drugs and alcohol are no longer at the center of your life, you need to find new ways to occupy your time.
1. Be Creative
Expressing yourself creatively can provide a way to process your feelings about past trauma and the challenges you are facing in recovery. Creative self-expression may include:
- Journaling or creative writing
- Drawing or painting
- Sewing, knitting, or crocheting
- Singing or playing an instrument
When you’re engaged in a creative pursuit, remember that it’s the process that’s important. Resist the urge to compare your work to others. Your recovery journey is one-of-a-kind.
2. Get Moving
Experts recommend that most Americans get a minimum of 30 to 60 minutes of aerobic exercise three or four days per week, with two or three days of additional weight-bearing resistance exercises. Exercise plays a vital role in recovery by releasing endorphins that boost your mood and reduce your cravings.
Even if you don’t consider yourself naturally athletic, there are many ways to stay fit. You could take a beginner-level exercise class at your local gym, follow along with free workout videos online, or go dancing with friends.
3. Go Outside
Time spent in nature helps lower stress and resets your internal clock, so you’ll sleep better at night. This can be a good way to deal with the insomnia that often accompanies the early stages of recovery.
Here are some ideas to help you spend more time outdoors:
- Attend a farmer’s market, an outdoor concert, or a youth sporting event
- Plant a garden
- Take a nature hike
- Take your kids to the park
- Play outside with a pet
4. Get Organized
When you’re in residential treatment, your day is planned out in great detail. When you transition back to independent living, it can take time to figure out a schedule that works for you.
Taking the time to get organized can help you feel less stressed as you go about your day. Some ideas to consider include:
- Buy a planner and enter in all of your recovery-related appointments, as well as work and personal obligations
- Organize your kitchen, so it’s easier to prepare healthy meals
- Declutter your bedroom, so you have a restful place to sleep
- Create a section in your home where you can enjoy a favorite hobby
5. Help Others
Helping others keeps you from falling into the trap of seeing yourself as a victim of your circumstances and fosters a sense of connection to the world around you. Ideas to consider include:
- Volunteer at a worthy nonprofit in your community
- Help an elderly neighbor with yard work or other household chores
- Create care packages to distribute to the homeless
- Share your recovery story with someone who is thinking about seeking treatment for addiction
- Challenge yourself to perform at least one random act of kindness each day
6. Learn Something New
Is there something you’ve always secretly wished you knew how to do? Maybe you love Japanese anime and wish you knew the language so you could watch your favorite programs without subtitles. Maybe you want to learn to code so you can create your own websites or mobile games. Maybe you love to cook and have always wanted to open your own food truck. Whatever your dream, now is the perfect time to learn something new!
To expand your skill set:
- Look for classes at a nearby community college
- Review books on the subject at your local library
- Refer to online tutorials
- Seek out a private tutor or mentor
7. Plan a Party
You don’t need drugs and alcohol to have a good time! If you’re in the mood to socialize with friends, consider one of these ideas for sober socializing:
- Play your favorite board game or video game
- Pop popcorn and watch a movie
- Start a book club
- Organize a game of beach volleyball, flag football, frisbee golf, or another casual team athletic activity
- Have a scavenger hunt
- Host a murder mystery dinner
- Plan a dance inspired by music from your favorite decade, such as a 1950s sock hop
8. Get Involved with the Recovery Community
You may have had to cut ties with friends and family who are actively struggling with their own substance abuse issues, but building stronger relationships within the recovery community can help you find a new source of support. Attending a 12-Step group such as Alcoholics Anonymous can help you meet others who understand the challenges you’re facing and support your efforts to build a better life for yourself.