Keeping busy is more than a way to distract yourself and beat alcohol cravings — filling your free time with meaningful, enjoyable, and healthy activities can also help you reconnect with the world after you stop drinking.
Please make sure you are aware of your health conditions, some recommendations could be a bit much such as rock climbing, and slow steps and you will be able to build strength from there.
What better way to spend your time than outdoors, doing something you love?
Why Nature Is an Underestimated Path to Wellbeing
There’s a reason chronically online youngsters now tell each other to “touch grass” as an insult.
According to the American Psychological Association, most Americans spend 10+ hours staring at screens, and we can only assume the situation is the same in other developed nations. If you take the internet out of the equation and simply focus on time spent indoors, things get even worse. Believe it or not, Americans spend less than eight percent of their waking time outside.
That’s a problem and a shame.
Spending time outdoors in nature (yes, urban parks count) boosts our brain power, emotional well-being, sleep quality, motivation to get fit, and immune system.
If you’re a recovering addict, you can benefit from all of those points — and in addition to all of that, spending time in nature may even have a direct impact on your odds of staying sober.
Some call it “ecotherapy.” You don’t have to, but you can still get out there and experience the benefits of being active in nature first-hand. Here are some ideas to get you started.
Let’s start with the cheapest, most accessible outdoor activity of all — walking.
The beauty? Unless you’re reading this at work, you can do it right now. No matter where you are.
Walking counts as a moderate form of exercise, but if you are intentional about it, going for walks can also expose you to fresh air and nature. Even if you’re in a massive city, nature is all around you.
Why not take the time to notice it?
Hiking takes a little more commitment but can be extremely rewarding. Explore local nature reserves, hiking trails, or national parks with a group of sober people to build physical strength, stand in awe of the sights, and show you what you’re capable of. Start with shorter hikes, and if you enjoy the experience, turn hiking into a regular habit!
Nothing in Particular
The term “outdoor activity” invokes images of situations you’re actively required to participate in, but it doesn’t have to be that way. Getting yourself over to a local park, botanical garden, or even your backyard and parking yourself there can still allow you to soak up nature’s therapeutic benefits.
Do what you want. Read a book, skim through the paper, keep your ears out for chirping birds, draw the plants you see, or simply sit around and enjoy the vitamin D.
If you prefer an active approach, you can also try taking up photography. You don’t need more than an average-quality smartphone to take decent pictures of the natural wonders you encounter.
The beauty? You don’t need to go far from home, either. A wildflower’s tenacious path through an urban sidewalk and a sparrow perched on a nearby tree give you unique glimpses of the natural world, too.
Of course, photography can also easily be combined with walks and hikes.
Birds are amazing, but spotting rarer varieties takes a hefty dose of patience. Birdwatching is a peaceful activity that allows you to get away from your established routine or the turbulence in your life and inevitably connects you with the wider world.
Biking is another wonderful outdoor activity you can do solo or together with others. It meets several goals at once, helping you get fit, do something new, and get somewhere. Biking trails offer a unique way to explore your local wildlife, too.
Kayaking or Canoeing
Take a class and learn how to explore calm waters, rivers, and lakes near you (and beyond). These two water sports are surprisingly social, giving people who have recently stopped drinking an opportunity to explore an active community focused on health. Plus, some people find water uniquely calming.
If you’re not too excited about raw, untouched nature but still want to keep yourself busy outside, geocaching (“the world’s biggest treasure hunt”!) may be another exciting option. This activity involves locating hidden stores via GPS, and there’s an active community of geocachers.
Building a solid sober support network plays a huge role in a successful recovery. Not all sports teams are a good match for sober people, because some teams have a habit of drinking, but you may be able to find the perfect match for you.
Soccer, volleyball, basketball, or even frisbee can all get you out of the house and into nature. You may also be able to find yoga and martial arts classes that take place outdoors.
Practically-minded people may prefer doing something concrete outdoors. If that’s you, you may be able to find some outdoor-based volunteer opportunities. Picking up trash and cleaning the Earth is always a popular activity (and so needed!), but you may also be able to plant trees.
Gardening can quickly become an all-encompassing hobby that nurtures your body (pulling weeds is surprisingly intense), mind, and soul. No matter which plants you decide to grow, there’s always a practical and educational component. As you learn about soil and light requirements, pest management, and propagation, you immerse yourself into something so real and tangible that all else may fade away.
This sport requires you to watch your every step and remain vigilant throughout. Rock climbing isn’t just a powerful metaphor for your road to sobriety, but also one that can teach you a lot about yourself. Of course, the fact that you get fit while you do it doesn’t hurt!
Due to the risks inherent to rock climbing, you won’t find many people who bring you into proximity with alcohol in this hobby — another bonus. Always start with a qualified instructor!