Quitting alcohol drastically transforms your life and gives you a precious gift once lost in the haze of drinking — time.
There are two ways to think about all the time that isn’t drinking, blacking out, and nursing hangovers. Both have a profound impact.
On the more challenging side, this sea of time can feel like a ticking time bomb to people in early recovery. Every moment is one that could fuel a relapse, and it may even feel like something vital is missing. Without alcohol, reality hits hard, and situations and feelings you previously drank your way out of must suddenly be confronted.
On the more positive side, which we wholeheartedly embrace, here, all the time you gain invites you to craft a new life for yourself. Imagine what you can do when every minute is a gift you can fully accept.
This guide looks at ways to fill your post-alcohol time with meaning, joy, adventure, and purpose. After quitting alcohol, your life is yours — waiting for you to shape every day for a meaningful future.
Nurture Your Body
Anyone who’s been drinking heavily can greatly benefit from focusing on better health. Every positive step you take allows you to increase your energy, strength, mood, and overall well-being. Even better? The positive changes you make don’t have to be a chore. They can be enjoyable and help you find a new purpose.
Exercise & Fitness
Adults need at least 150 minutes of weekly physical activity, the CDC says. Working to meet that goal is a worthwhile way to spend some of your time.
While “sporty” activities like jogging, swimming, lifting weights, or playing tennis are certainly one way to get moving, you have other options. Gardening, biking to work, walking your dog, or running errands for an elderly neighbor will also get your heart rate up!
If you’ve been beating your body up with alcohol for a long time, learning about healthy nutrition is another great way to fill your time. Did that sound too clinical? Sorry — we primarily mean learning to cook delicious, healthy meals you can make yourself (and other people, maybe?) very happy with. If you’re already a good cook, dive into culinary traditions you know nothing about.
Restful, Alcohol-free Sleep
Seriously. Restful, alcohol-free sleep is one of the best things to enjoy.
You won’t be awake for it, of course, but nothing beats the feeling of waking up fresh and hangover-free from a good night’s sleep.
Keep in mind that in the beginning stages of sleeping alcohol-free, you might still wake up thinking you have a hangover but this will fade away over time.
Nurture Your Mind
Alcohol abuse dulls and hijacks the mind — but much of the cognitive numbing heavy drinking leads to is reversed within the first few months of sobriety. Once that brain fog lifts, your mind is your own again. Use it!
Learn Something New
Becoming a life-long learner gives you never-ending opportunities to fill your mind with wonder and enjoyment — plus, you might master new skills that open countless doors.
If you think you’d enjoy a structured environment with other learners, why not enroll in a live (community college) course? If not, read books, try an online course, or even use AI to discover new topics to learn more about.
“Education” is such a broad category that you could easily fill 10 lifetimes on it — so once you’re excited about something, you’ll never be bored.
Meditation and Mindfulness
We all face stress. We all cope with it in different ways. Your way was clearly alcohol before, so you can probably use some healthier stress-coping mechanisms. Mindfulness practices and different approaches to meditation are proven ways to lower your stress levels — even if you spend as little as 30 minutes a day on them.
Creativity and Hobbies
There’s some overlap here; taking on a new hobby inevitably makes you learn something, too. Why not honor your sobriety by allowing yourself to explore new pursuits purely for pleasure? Don’t worry if you have no idea what you enjoy yet. Try everything you can, even if you’re quite sure it’s not for you.
Recovery Support Groups
Recovery support groups can play a critical role in recovery for those people who were deep in alcohol’s grasp. These groups — and there are many types, now, not all of them religious — allow you to process your recovery, help keep you motivated in your sobriety, and give you a social network of people who understand.
Nurture Your Soul
Let’s not forget this last part, however you personally choose to interpret it. Healing and moving forward is a full-person experience, and that includes the deeper spiritual dimension.
Spirituality helps many newly sober people find meaning and build a meaningful life. It’s not for everyone, but it might be for you. You may want to return to the spiritual or religious tradition you grew up in to seek comfort, or you might be interested in exploring new ways to be spiritual. If you’re not a believer, you may still benefit from yoga or meditation, which can also have spiritual components.
The sheer beauty of the world can also nurture the soul — so try to get out there and explore places you don’t normally have a chance to enjoy. A weekend camping trip is nice, but if you can travel the world, do it!
Get Involved in the Community
Volunteering or giving back to the community in another way (such as picking up litter or helping your neighbors) can be another way to feed this part of your needs. Volunteering isn’t purely selfless, as you gain plenty in return. Does more confidence, feelings of happiness and meaning, and less stress sound good? Helping others is proven to have these effects.
A Final Word
It might be hard to fill your time after you stop drinking, but if you let the world in, that particular challenge will soon fade. You’ll go from wondering how to fill the void to having trouble deciding between all the wonderful things you could be doing.