Do you find yourself wondering what you will be doing with your free time now that you are not drinking, using drugs or gambling?
Are you bored and worried that you will never really enjoy yourself again?
Did most of the things you used to do involve alcohol, drug use, or gambling?
These are some of the questions you might be asking yourself now that you are in recovery. These questions are all about the role of leisure in your life now that you have quit drinking, using drugs or gambling. You CAN have fun without using alcohol, drugs or gambling, but you may need to make some changes.
Much of your leisure time in the past probably involved alcohol, drugs or gambling. The challenge is to find things you like to do, and learn to do them without using or gambling. Over time, you need to develop positive leisure routines and connect with people to have fun with in healthy ways.
Leisure means different things to different people. Some people like to do sports or hobbies. Others define leisure as free time spent away from chores, work, school or other obligations.
Leisure can be something active or something inactive. It can be physical like sports and running, or it can be reading a book or working in the garden.
It can be something you do with other people, or on your own. If it's something that you like to do and simply makes you feel good, it's leisure!
Making changes can be tough. You may need time to figure out what you like to do best. It might take time before you feel you fit into a "clean and sober" world. However, it does get easier!
Research shows people need regular physical activity every week to be healthy. As you look at making leisure changes, plan to get active. Start up slowly and build up your activity levels. Choose activities that will help you increase your endurance, flexibility and strength. You will
Some leisure activities may put you at risk for relapse. Team sports may involve bets. After playing a ball game the team may go out for a beer. Family gatherings, and events such as anniversaries, weddings, and Christmas may involve alcohol, other drugs or gambling. You may be tempted to return to your old ways of celebrating. You can avoid some of these situations, but not all. You need to plan how you will handle these situations ahead of time.
List your activities that may involve others using alcohol, drugs or gambling and develop an "action plan" for dealing with this.
Activity: Ball tournament
Even with great intentions, sticking to a program may be difficult. Here are some tips to help.
Being motivated is the key to sticking with something new. At first, motivation can come from those around you. You might try new activities at the suggestion of a friend or a counsellor, but to continue with something new the motivation must eventually come from inside you.
For example, you may join a team sport because somebody tells you it is healthy—once you start to actually feel healthier and stronger, you are likely to stick to it. If, on the other hand, you find that that the team has a poor attitude, or that you are going only because you are feeling pressured, you can look for another sport without feeling like a failure. Once you find the activities that are enjoyable and fun, make you feel better physically, and where you find a sense of belonging, you will find you want to go, not feel you have to go.
So pick a challenge—not too hard, not too easy—and build that motivation within. Steer clear of pressure and stay in charge. Facing comfortable challenges will make you feel competent and gives you incentive to do more.
Here are some tips to help you build this inner motivation:
Over time, your leisure interests will change. What you commit to today will change as you progress through your recovery. You will find new and exciting activities to get involved in. You may want to get back into some activities that we were part of your life before you got into using or gambling. Remember that the leisure plan you develop today is not set in stone—you need to keep working on it and change it as your interests and experiences change.
Remember that the challenges you accept today set the foundation for your activities tomorrow!
For more information and to find an addiction services office near you, please call the 24-hour Helpline at 1-866-332-2322 (Alberta only).