If you are anything like me, getting sober saved your life. But walking away from substances was accompanied by a large dose of FOMO — fear of missing out. After all, as active addicts, much of what we did and who we were revolved around substances and the community who abused them.
Leaving a community, even the wrong community, can be traumatic and lonely. How do we cope with the loneliness of leaving a community, even the wrong community?
The obvious answer is to replace the unhealthy group of people with one focused on healthy pursuits. It takes work, but for me, it’s important to avoid stagnancy by constantly finding new hobbies and expanding on the activities I am passionate about, even if they took a hiatus as drugs filled my life.
Like most sober people, I’ve gone down the laundry list of “the guy that doesn’t drink anymore” hobbies. The gym, meditation, board games, exotic sparkling waters and every kind of caffeine and nicotine product available.
In early sobriety, all these things were important, if just as a measure of filling my time and occupying my newly lucid mind. But as time went on and recovery became a way of life, I yearned for a deeper dive into activities that were meaningful and inspiring.
I’ve taken a moment to write down some of the community-based things that I have personally done to make my life in recovery more fulfilling, richer, and just more fun. I hope they are helpful for you.
Try Yoga as a Fun Sober Activity
When something is extremely unnatural and I find myself having a strong aversion to it, I know there’s a good chance it’s going to be good for me.
Slowing down is not something that comes easily to me, so the stillness that I find while practicing yoga has been so beneficial in practicing mindfulness in my day-to-day life.
By helping to reduce stress and improve mental clarity, yoga can make it easier for individuals to resist the temptation to use drugs or alcohol.
The physical and emotional benefits of yoga can also be particularly beneficial for those who have struggled with substance abuse, as they work to rebuild their bodies and minds.
Through mindfulness and self-inquiry, yoga can help individuals to better understand their thoughts, feelings, and behaviors, and to develop more healthy coping mechanisms. Additionally, the sense of community and support that can be found in a yoga class can be a key factor in maintaining sobriety. All of these factors combined can make yoga an important part of the recovery journey.
Spending Time In Nature For Sobriety
We’ve heard it for years: Nature is good for you. Studies show that when in nature, heart rates slow, and anxiety reduces. The mindfulness that is vital to those of us in recovery becomes easier to come by when the only sounds we hear are the crunching of leaves beneath our feet and birds singing overhead.
There is evidence to suggest that spending time in nature and engaging in activities such as hiking, camping, and gardening can be beneficial for those seeking to maintain sobriety.
One study found that participating in a wilderness therapy program was associated with decreased substance use and improved mental health outcomes in individuals with substance use disorders (SUDs).
For some of us, though, gaining nature’s benefits is easier said than done. Living in the city of Los Angeles is almost antithetical to mindfulness, so getting out of the hustle and bustle is even more vital. Just 20 minutes from my home is Will Rogers State Park, and the beaches in Malibu, just 30 minutes up highway 1, tend to be relatively unoccupied. It takes a little more effort to get out into nature than it would if I lived in, say, Colorado. But nature – and its benefits – are worth it!
Creative Activities Help Maintain Sobriety
Even though I’ve never been a gifted artist, I find that trying out things that exercise the creative part of my brain helps me use skills that I am not used to. Whether that is painting, drawing, or even decorating and rearranging your home, I find that expressing yourself in a creative way can help manufacture a sense of mindfulness.
Art therapy, which involves using creative expression as a means of self-exploration and healing, is effective in treating substance use disorders. Engaging in creative activities can help individuals in recovery process express their emotions, cope with cravings, and improve their mental health.
In addition, participating in art can also be a form of mindfulness, which is helpful in the treatment of addiction. Mindfulness involves being present in the moment and paying attention to one’s thoughts and emotions without judgment. It can help individuals in recovery to become more aware of their triggers and learn to manage their cravings and emotions healthily.
Overall, engaging in creative activities such as art can be a valuable tool in the journey towards and maintenance of sobriety. It can help individuals in recovery to better understand and manage their emotions, cope with cravings, and improve their mental health.
Sober Travel With a Likeminded Community
As the founder of a sober adventure travel company, traveling with like-minded people is top of my list of things to do sober.
Part of the issue with maintaining sobriety after addiction is that our brains are used to an increased level of excitement (albiet artificial), that normal activities we used to find fun, seem trivial. Traveling to exotic locations like Costa Rica, Machu Picchu or Kenya can help us combat this feeling by providing us with a comparable level of excitement.
Not once have I ever thought about a drink while climbing the ruins of Machu Picchu or zip-lining through the jungles of Costa Rica. The experience provides us with so much natural dopamine, we forget about the artificial sources.
This is why sober adventure can be so rewarding.
Additionally, when we travel by ourselves or with people who still drink, it can at best, be boring, sitting by the pool again while our friends are at the bar, and at worst it can be risky for our sobriety.
That is why I believe what we do at Choose Life Sober Adventures is so important. When we gather as a community of like-minded people with a common life experience of recovery and a common goal of seeing the most amazing things that this world has to offer, amazing things happen.
After all, the most important things in this life are the things we share.