During and After Recovery: Why is Having Fun in Recovery Important?

A New Kind of “Fun” for Recovery

For many who are just starting their addiction recovery journey, the word “fun” can be tricky. Perhaps “fun” used to mean the substance abuse habits you used to engage in. Or maybe you associate the word with friends who aren’t the best influence on you. Whatever the case is for you, having fun in recovery is a concept that needs to be redefined and re-envisioned if you’re going to have a sustainable recovery process.

A common reason why people avoid going into addiction treatment is that they fear that life will become dull and boring without drugs or alcohol. But this, of course, isn’t the case. It’s all about retraining and redefining these terms for your new, healthy life. For any happy and satisfied life, being able to have fun is essential. Therefore, while you’re in recovery, learning to have fun can be one of the most important factors for your long-term success.

Changing Your Language and Redefining Fun

When people in recovery are feeling stressed, they tend to think of their past substance abuse with fondness. Oftentimes, this fondness is associated with fun, relaxation, and happiness. And if you’re having a tough day or week in recovery, that stress and longing can lead to relapse.

One study on relapse prevention emphasizes how important self-care is for those in recovery. Included in self-care is the concept of having fun. The study explains that “clients need to make time for themselves, to be kind to themselves, and to give themselves permission to have fun.” But what kind of “fun” does this entail?

Usually when people expect to have fun, they usually have fun. And the same is true for the opposite: when they expect not to have fun, they usually don’t. So, the key is to work with your therapists and group supports to redefine what fun looks like to you now, and what those expectations look and feel like. Then, when you’re in a situation, your standard has been adjusted and you can move past the unhealthy “fun” habits you had before.

How Does Boredom Threaten Your Recovery?

Boredom can be a dangerous thing for those in recovery. For instance, if you were used to drinking or abusing substances every day to fill the leisure time in your life, you may find looking to these old time-fillers when you are newly out of addiction treatment.

One study, for example, examines the role that boredom plays for youths, and its connection to at-risk behaviors like substance abuse. Oftentimes, boredom is really just a sense of lack or dissatisfaction with how you’re spending your time. So, a very real path back to addiction for many people is linked to that feeling of lack or boredom. That’s why staying conscious about your time-spending and finding new ways to have fun in recovery is so important.

Why Does Having Fun in Recovery Reduce Stress?

As mentioned above, stress is a significant trigger for relapse. Keeping chronic stress patterns to a minimum or learning how to cope effectively should be important during your treatment. These tools should also be a focus in the remainder of your recovery journey—how can you stay calm, peaceful, and have a healthy perspective on life? These goals will help you identify the best ways to have fun and reduce your risk of relapse in the process. Some fun activities may include:

  • Laughing with friends
  • Hiking
  • Camping,
  • Making art
  • Playing music
  • Watching movies
  • Dancing or karaoke
  • Reading at a coffee shop or outside in nature
  • Spending time with family

Again, redefine what fun means for you and make a new habit out of it!

Tips to Having Fun During Recovery

Having fun in recovery may not come easily at first, especially if you’ve just gone through detox. But it won’t take long before you start to enjoy yourself and the company of those around you. The new ways you find enjoyment and fun in the healing process may surprise you.

You can start with some of the hobbies you used to love, perhaps even before your substance abuse. But also trying out new hobbies is a good idea. Is there something that you’ve always thought you might enjoy? Have you been wanting to try something but just haven’t gotten around to it? Now is the time to give them a try.

You can also ask around and see what your new sober friends are into, and join them in their hobbies or leisure activities. Maybe they love kayaking and need a partner. Or perhaps they do nature photography and need someone to help them with their equipment one weekend. Whatever it is, keep an open mind and an open heart.

Healthy Ways to Have Fun After Recovery

A key part of addiction recovery involves embracing the opportunity to change and starting fresh. If you need something more thrilling, check out ideas for new activities and hobbies that might bring exhilaration to your new sober life;

  • White-water rafting
  • Mountain biking
  • Hang-gliding
  • Sky-diving
  • Other extreme sports

If you’re looking for something more relaxed and want a tangible way to reduce stress in your life, there are plenty of other activities that might suit you.

  • Yoga
  • Meditation
  • Pilates
  • Spiritual classes
  • Cooking
  • Woodworking
  • Computer programming
  • Photography
  • Learning a new skill or language

Remember that whatever you choose, do it mindfully and intentionally. This new type of self-control will help shift your brain away from the temptations of boredom. Moreover, there’s no need to do these things alone. Spend your time in sobriety taking courses in person, with friends,  or find a variety of free classes online. Not only is continuing to learn a rewarding experience, it’s also an excellent way to boost your self-esteem.

Having fun and redefining fun is a key part of the treatment program at Impact Recovery. Even after our treatment program, our alumni return for the community and fun activities we sponsor and host. To learn more about what Impact Recovery is all about, don’t hesitate to reach out to one of our staff members today.