Even if symbolic in nature, the arrival of a new year allows us an opportunity for renewal. Old habits are put aside for new, healthier ones as we look to reinvent ourselves as someone a little closer to who we want to be. For those struggling with addiction, this is deeply meaningful. It represents a chance to leave addiction cravings in the past.
This is easier said than done, which is why at GateHouse Treatment, we’ve compiled a list of sober activities to help you take your mind off addiction. Nobody will judge for trying to learn a new skill, especially during the new year when everyone has self-improvement in mind. Mastering a new sober activity will impress others and put you on the path to a healthier, fuller life.
1. Pick Up Chess for a Sober Activity
The game of kings and intellectuals has seen a resurgence in popularity due to Covid-19 lockdowns and convenient apps you can access on your phone. It’s straightforward to learn but endlessly complicated. The lessons chess can teach you apply beyond the game and are helpful for your life, career, and addiction.
For starters, it is the perfect sober activity to take up time. Not only does it require periods of study, watching videos, learning different techniques, and playing solo, but it is also a social activity. Over-the-board chess requires you to go to parks and chess clubs or organize your friends for an evening of play and analysis. It’s easy to find a chess club in your area, and whatever skill level, find someone to teach you. It provides friendship and a sense of community.
Additionally, chess is an excellent sober activity because it teaches willpower and deep concentration. The feeling of repeatedly failing, watching yourself improve and overcome people who caused you trouble in the past, and thinking just a little deeper in a position is immensely pleasurable. It’s also near impossible to do while under the influence, and whoever you are playing with will notice.
Finally, even though it’s associated with remaining still, it’s good for the body. Chess players burn approximately 10% more calories than the average person remaining stationary, which may be higher according to the game’s intensity. It’s a tremendous sober activity for competitive people who still wish to remain inside during a chilly winter or a hot summer day.
2. Get Your Body Moving
There is overwhelming evidence that aerobic exercise is a productive sober activity. Most studies, animal and human, show a decrease in cravings, a reduction in consumption, and outright abstinence from drug use following an intervention and steady exercise. Exercise releases endorphins that help improve your mood, making you less likely to have a destructive mindset and make the wrong decision. It also regulates your sleep schedule, helping you sleep deeper and longer, which improves brain health and function.
Another underappreciated benefit of exercise as a sober activity is the addition of structure. Depending on the length of the workout, you will devote at least an hour of the day to exercise. Going to the gym, drinking water, showering, being hungry afterward and needing a snack. Doing the routine gives life a steady rhythm that centers a person, and soon enough, you will begin to plan your day around your workout. Since it’s tough to be consistently active when using drugs, exercise will defeat the craving.
Although further research is needed to determine an exact regimen, everything helps. Swimming, biking, running, walking, just get moving; it can’t hurt.
3. Pick up an Instrument
Everyone knows that affects our emotional state. An upbeat rhythm can make our heart race and even get us dancing; a majestic one can inspire us to lofty emotions, and a melancholy one can make us cry during a movie or activate strong memories. This is why music is sometimes used in addiction therapy in combination with other therapies.
Learning an instrument combines music’s emotional resonance with the benefits of skill acquisition to become a fantastic sober activity. First, playing an instrument is just impressive. Everyone owes it to themselves to try at least once. Learning chords, notes, or finger placements completely changes the way you listen to the music you already love and gives you a newfound appreciation for how talented your favorite musicians are. A guitar may sound nice to the average person, but only a guitarist will understand how technically impressive the playing is. Like other forms of learning, it requires dedication, patience, attention, time, and love.
An added benefit is that it can also be social. If you have a tutor, you will have regular practice sessions. If you get good enough, you can look to play with others in a band or enjoy jamming together. It’s another sober activity that can spark joy and creativity in you and others.
4. Paintball as a Sober Activity
Here’s one that doesn’t take months to reach a level of proficiency finally. Paintball is an outstanding sober activity because it gives you a drug-free rush and a sense of pure schoolyard fun that’s difficult to find elsewhere. The startup costs associated with it can be small, such as renting or borrowing gear. It’s a social activity that requires being sober to carry out; you will be with a group of people in a squad, devising strategies not to be shot while shooting back.
Paintball requires teamwork and communication that can lead to friendships.
Although there may be a huge skill gap between veterans and rookies, anyone can pick up a gun, aim, fire, run, and take cover. It’s also just pure fun. The joy of tagging someone with your shot and the fear of the enemy covering you in painting is exhilarating. It’s why so many people play video games, though it’s far more exciting in person, aiming down your sights to spatter someone in blue, red, or yellow.
5. Learn New Recipes
Kitchen work stands apart as a sober activity because of the instant gratification that comes at the end. With an instrument, it might take a few days before you see improvement and weeks before you are confident playing a melody. In the kitchen, your results happen in a matter of hours and are delicious if done well.
Cooking is an art, managing temperature and fire, whisking sauces for the right amount of time, and getting the salt and spices to the perfect level. Baking, however, is a science. Measuring exact ingredients and combining them in precise ways and specific temperatures, making sure to adjust your hypothesis if you see something wrong, all require a steady hand and a steadier mind. This activity is also social, as food is better when shared, and nobody likes to turn down a great meal.
Watch your popularity skyrocket as your ability to make delicious things everyone loves and acclaims. Become your family’s go-to person for holiday dishes. This is a sober activity that can be done daily and satisfy those you love the most.
Whatever stage of recovery you might be in, we are always eager to help. GateHouse Treatment offers top-of-the-line care from people who understand your challenges. We offer sober houses, outpatient treatment, partial hospitalization, and other forms of personalized therapy to help you get and stay clean.
It all starts with a phone call. We have assistance available 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Contact us online or call (855) 448-3588 to ensure your path to recovery.