Unfortunately, anxiety doesn’t just disappear once you get sober. Experiences in early recovery often cause an increase in anxiety, making it more difficult for people in recovery to stay sober. Running into old drug-using acquaintances, walking past a bar you used to frequent a lot, being bored, or even just thinking about taking on a difficult day without a drink can cause feelings of anxiety to flare up.
Although anxiety is a real struggle for many people in sober living and aftercare programmes, there are several different hobbies that may reduce boredom and anxiety to help individuals develop a new sense of “normal” in their lives.
1. Learn to Play an Instrument
You don’t have to be musically talented to enjoy playing an instrument or to take advantage of all the health benefits it provides. Research shows that making music lowers blood pressure, decreases heart rate, reduces stress, and lessens anxiety and depression. Even just listening to music can reduce feelings of stress and anxiety. Many sober living residents find that making or listening to music provides therapeutic benefits in recovery.
2. Art and Colouring
Artistic expression is a great way to manage feelings of anxiety because it diverts our attention away from worrying and requires that we just focus on one thing. People in transitional living programs may benefit from creative art projects because they have been shown to reduce stress and over-stimulation, increase self-esteem, and encourage fun and relaxation. These things are all very important during the first few weeks and months of recovery and will continue to enhance a life of sobriety.
Participation in group sports like soccer, basketball, or baseball also provides opportunities to meet new people, become a part of a close-knit community, and engage in regular physical activity, which is all highly beneficial for people in sober living or aftercare programmes.
Gardening is a great way to interact with nature. Clinical research shows regular interaction with nature is associated with increased emotional regulation, decreased rumination, and fewer symptoms of depression and anxiety. Gardening is also a great opportunity to practice mindfulness in sobriety, as it requires your full attention to successfully cultivate and grow a plant. Although sober living residents may not have access to a garden plot of their own, they can grow potted plants in their window sills or volunteer to help cultivate a community garden on island.
5. Yoga or Tai Chi
Yoga and Tai Chi are mind-body practices that can be beneficial for people in recovery because they combine physical and mental disciplines to help manage stress and anxiety. When practiced on a regular basis, yoga and Tai Chi can reduce stress, improve overall fitness, and alleviate depression, insomnia, and anxiety. Many people who enrol in sober living programmes have some experience with yoga from rehab, but they may choose to continue regular practice on their own by doing yoga at their sober living home, joining a community yoga group, or attending classes.
This is particularly useful for people in recovery, as they can also use journaling to self-monitor, record their daily thoughts or struggles, and keep records of their personal growth process. Sober living residents may find it beneficial to write in a journal once a day, maintain an online blog, or write poetry or song lyrics.
7. Knitting or crocheting
Research shows that crafting activities like knitting or crocheting can provide benefits similar to that of meditation. Not only are these activities fun, but they are also rewarding because the end result is something tangible that you can give away or use yourself. Residents of transitional living programmes may find that knitting and crocheting are effective ways to bond with other residents, ward off boredom, or even produce some income while they’re continuing their addiction treatment.
8. Volunteering with animals
It’s no surprise that spending time with animals provides a wealth of physical and emotional benefits. Researchers have found that human-animal interaction reduces fear, anxiety, and depression, as well as feelings of loneliness or isolation. Animals are also often a primary factor in the development of new friendships and social support networks. While some sober living homes may be pet-friendly and allow residents to bring their own dogs or cats to live with them, others who may not be ready to take on the challenge of pet ownership can still enjoy the benefits of interacting with animals by volunteering at the humane society or a pet therapy nonprofit group.
Many addicts in recovery struggle with anxiety and suffer from the ongoing effects of it, but even simple daily hobbies like these can greatly improve quality of life and overall health and wellness.