It is common to feel like an outcast from your inner circle when you first enter treatment and recovery. The causes are varied. Perhaps loved ones also have alcohol or substance use disorders, or all your friends hang out in settings where alcohol is readily available. Maybe you are simply not aware of many sober activities in your area. Many people who are early on their path of recovery have yet to experience any kind of sober experiences before having the experience of becoming sober themselves. It is important to note that there is plenty to be experienced in a sober lifestyle. Though the normalcy around alcohol is rampant, life in recovery can be delightful, healthy, exciting, and fulfilling.
The definition of sobriety is: Sobriety, or being sober, can be defined as the state of not being intoxicated. In the fields of addiction and mental health treatment, sobriety typically refers to a person’s decision to maintain abstinence from substance use.
- The sober life doesn’t need to be a lonely one. While it is hard to have to explain to people that you live a sober life, it doesn’t mean that you can’t still have fun, enjoy time with your friends, family, and those closest to you. While sitting in a coffee shop with your friends at 8 in the morning sounds less-than fun, it is a much more positive experience than going to bed intoxicated at 7 in the morning.
Living a sober life provides you with access to activities, people, and adventures you otherwise wouldn’t have the opportunity to experience without being sober. If you are struggling with things to do to take up your time, here are a few suggestions that are sure to have a positive impact on your day, no matter what!
Go see a movie!
Movies provide a unique ability to enter a different world, with characters, plots, and scenery that is sure to keep you entertained for hours! You can check all of the available movies near you at fandango.com!
Go for a hike!
Nature is the great escape from your everyday life. It promotes creativity, gives your body some exercise, and looks beautiful! If you really wanted to get into hiking, nature, and all of the amazing things that come with it, you should plan a trip to a new place that offers several activities. A great destination for this would be somewhere like Southern Utah! Hosting 2 National Parks, Some of the best Mountain Biking in the world, and incredibly warm weather year round! You can plan an entire trip (hotel, car, and flight) very easily on sites like travelocity.com, or priceline.com!
Go to a concert!
While concerts can be a hotspot for drugs and alcohol, this activity is actually a favorite amongst the recently sober! Here is what one persons experience was like at a concert, just one month after achieving sobriety!
“When I was just one month sober, I decided to go see one of my favorite bands play. I’ve always loved rock shows, but the idea of being sober at one was still really strange. Still, I loved this band. So I decided to face my fear, bringing along a non-sober, but supportive friend.
When I was showing my ID, I asked if I needed to have a bracelet if I wasn’t drinking. “No,” said the security guard, “but if you don’t wear one I’ll have to put some X’s on your hands.” That was fine with me! Having the option to drink taken away actually helped. I had a blast, pounding back Diet Cokes. Today, whenever I go to a show, I always ask if I need to wear a bracelet if I’m not drinking. Usually I don’t. I’ve been sober for years, but having that extra line of defense still gives me a little extra security. Not drinking means I save money, don’t lose my spot in the crowd because I’m constantly running to the bathroom or the bar…and remember the entire show. Before, this often wasn’t the case.”
Be a tourist in your own town!
Is there a new restaurant in town? Maybe a local attraction that all tourists stop to see when in your town? Venture out! Take a day on the weekend, and maybe do a little research about what is popular for tourists when in town, and go from location to location, seeing what makes your town unique!
There are several financial, and emotional benefits of shopping for yourself, by yourself. For starters, you won’t be influenced by what your friends think or do while shopping, allowing you to truly shop for yourself, and get things that you love, not your friends. Another thing is that you won’t be pressured to spend more. Shopping for yourself can be a healthy way to reward yourself for staying sober, and give you motivation to remain sober too!
Take a fitness class!
Over the last few decades, it has become apparent that movement is crucial for the well-being of our physical bodies and for our mental and emotional health and general well-being. The same endorphins that make us feel better when moving also help us concentrate and sleep better, have more energy, and become more resilient when faced with the mental or emotional challenges of life. There are many ways to incorporate mindful movement as a form of healing and therapy into treatment plans. Some of the most well-known modalities include yoga, dance and movement therapy, hiking and walking, fitness classes, tai chi, and any kind of martial art. Though physical exercise is always good, having the mindful aspect is particularly empowering for those struggling with mental health and their recovery process, as it induces a presence that other practices cannot.
Pick up that instrument!
Music is defined as stringing notes together to create a melody. Like all forms of art, it is up to the listener to decipher its meaning. A piece of music can mean the world to one person, while someone else might find it tasteless and irritating. That is the best thing about art, its subjectivity. For those in recovery from addiction, music can be especially therapeutic because it helps them to connect to emotions and channel energy. Something as simple as someone’s favorite lyrics in a song can remind them that they’re not alone and give them hope that things will get better. Music affects our brain chemistry similar to the way that running or doing a cardio workout does. Dopamine is a “feel-good” chemical that is produced and distributed throughout the brain. Listening to music that you love stimulates the release of dopamine, creating a positive mental and emotional response. When you listen to music while working out, the experience is compounded. You have more motivation, allowing you to exercise harder and feel better after a workout. Singing or writing music that you relate to can cultivate a sense of inspiration and connection. However you use it, it’s important to tap into the things that inspire and bring you joy in your recovery. Picking up these tools on good days will make it easier to choose them in your more difficult moments.
Take a fun class at your local college!
Many Community Colleges offer evening classes such as painting, photography, and glass blowing! Painting is an amazing way to visualize your emotions on a canvas, Like music, art is very subjective, making it unique to each individual. Experiencing art is personal, and different pieces or styles of art elicit different responses, depending on the person. The practices of tapping into creativity and connecting to emotions in the present moment through art can be therapeutic, especially for those recovering from mental health and/or substance use disorders. Expressing yourself can be difficult. If you are the type of person who internalizes emotions, this can easily result in your being a ticking time bomb waiting to explode. Learning to be more outward about your emotions and communicate how you are feeling is imperative to your recovery. Art can help release energy and express emotions in a healthy way. It teaches us to channel them into something positive. Focusing energy on creativity can create the space necessary to identify what you are feeling. This, in turn, allows you to communicate effectively.
Now you see, there is so much to do and experience once we get sober. The idea that one can only have fun when under the influence is not only false but incredibly dangerous. When under the influence, we have decreased awareness of what is happening in our lives and are susceptible to acting in ways that are not true to us. We may act out in unsafe or destructive ways too. When we are first sober, we can feel bewildered as we begin to see life through the full spectrum of emotions and experiences. There is something magical to this. Once we become aware of our experiences, we find there is so much more to life than what we previously found at the bottom of a bottle. Every occasion brings pleasure when we are fully present, giving us so much more to celebrate.