One of the surprising things about recovery is just how much free time it gives us.
Addiction is a time sink when you think about it. There’s the time spent finding drugs. There’s the time spent using drugs. We spent time under the influence of drugs, and worst of all, there’s the time spent recovering from the effects of drugs and alcohol.
So, for a lot of us, when we’re in treatment for drug and alcohol addiction at a drug rehab, we’re often surprised at all the time we suddenly have on our hands. Sometimes, having all this unscheduled time can feel a little … boring.
Why Free Time & Boredom Can Be Dangerous in Recovery
Don’t get us wrong: having an amount of free time is important for everyone. Being able to take an hour or so of “me time” helps us recharge and give us time to recover from a busy day at our addiction center, work, or school.
Unfortunately, free time is a two-sided coin in recovery. First, free time is often spent alone. Solitude can be comforting, but it can also make us spend a lot of time with our thoughts, ruminating over past events and worrying about the future.
A lot of us repress past traumas and memories of times before we decided to enter addiction treatment. Those thoughts often bubble to the surface when we’re by ourselves. When you’re in the early stages of recovery from drugs and alcohol, this can be a risky situation to be in.
Second, unscheduled time can be boring, and the big problem with boredom is that it’s a huge risk factor for relapses. Again, when we’re bored, we tend to revisit old memories and thoughts, which is a bad habit in recovery.
This is also a risk in sober living, too. Sober living homes are great places to live in while recovering. They’re drug-free, safe, and encourage accountability to your recovery. But sober homes can also a little isolating, especially if you decided to move away from your surroundings to recover (and moving away for recovery is often a great decision, too).
Isolation can lead to loneliness and boredom, which again are both relapse triggers. Fortunately, there’s plenty of ways to keep yourself occupied, happy, and sober as you recover.
5 Easy Ways to Avoid Boredom in Sober Living
Keeping yourself occupied and active is just another skill to relearn in recovery, and it’ s a fun one, too. Here are 5 things to do to fend off boredom in sober living and keep your recovery going!
- Get Out of the House: Being shut in all day won’t help you. Instead, get out as often as you can. Many sober homes offer regular outings, so make sure you’re a part of as many of them as you can. Getting out in the sun is a great cure for depression, anxiety and your overall mental health. Plus, you’ll be on these outings with your roommates, so it’s a great way to both boost your moods and get to know the people you’re living with.
- Develop a Routine and Stick to it: If you’re in a sober living home, odds are you’ve already got a routine. This is exactly why sober homes are so great in recovery – they keep you occupied. Set wake-up times, therapy sessions, chores, meals, activities, and bedtimes mean your days are full and active.
- Do Something New: You’ve been busy building a new life in recovery…so why not try something new? Consider joining a gym, learning how to cook, going back to school, or anything else that’ll occupy your time and challenge your perspectives.
- Find a Hobby … or Restart an Old One: One of the very few positives about the COVID-19 outbreak has been people rediscovering the activities they used to do … or always wanted to try. Recovery is a second chance at life, and it’s the perfect time to explore a hobby, activity, or an experience you always wanted to do. Learning a musical instrument, knitting, journaling, and painting are just a few of the things you can do now that you’re in recovery. If you had a hobby that you neglected due to addiction, this is an excellent time to pick it up again!
- Join a Recovery Group: Addiction recovery groups are another way to make sure your recovery is lasting and successful. They work so well many sober homes make attending them mandatory. Recovery groups are an excellent way to deal with some of the difficult memories and emotions recovery can bring to the surface.
These aren’t perfect solutions, so if you’re still feeling bored after trying them reach out to someone. If you’re living at home, contact your case manager. If you’re living in a sober home, talk to your roommates and/or your house manager. You might be surprised at how well they understand your situation.
Sober Living Can Help You Fight Boredom
Many sober homes intentionally keep you busy and active. They know how important it is to avoid boredom during sober living, which is why many of them stick to schedules and offer a lot of activities.
Boredom is a major pitfall of recovery, and when someone moves into the outpatient stages of care it’s all too easy to run into it. Sober living homes offer accountability, activity, and tons of resources to keep you occupied and on track to a long, happy life.
Finding a sober home isn’t always easy, though.
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