Why You Should Make Time for Recreation & Leisure in Your Recovery

Are you uncertain about how you should spend your free time in recovery? Are you unsure of what you even like to do?

When we get clean and sober, we have a lot more leisure time for meaningful activities. Not to mention, having fun in recovery is imperative! If you’re not sure how you should spend that time, try thinking about:

  1. Past Interests: What activities did you engage in before you started using? What did you like to do when you were younger? How can you nourish your “inner child?”
  2. Current Interests: How do you like to spend your free time now? How can you make those activities conducive to a recovery lifestyle?
  3. Future Interests: What are some things that you’ve always wanted to try? What activities push you out of your comfort zone and cultivate growth?

Additionally, think about the benefits of these activities to establish balance in your life. Break down the benefits of leisure activities into the following domains:

  • Social: What activities allow you to connect and socialize with others? (e.g. Attending meetings [12-Step or alternative meetings, such as SMART or Refuge Recovery] allows you to connect with people that have similar life experiences; joining a sober sports league can help you stay connected to the recovery community AND you can have fun playing your favorite sport.)
  • Physical: What activities are good for maintaining your physical health? (e.g. Hiking or rollerblading are great ways to maintain cardiovascular and musculoskeletal health, especially if you don’t enjoy working out at the gym.)
  • Emotional: What activities help you combat mental health struggles? (e.g. Going on long walks or jogs is a good preventative activity for depression; rock climbing can increase self-esteem and make you feel empowered.)
  • Spiritual: What activities increase your spiritual connection? (e.g. Doing yoga and meditation strengthens the mind-body connection, and can help establish a connection with your Higher Power; engaging in service work is a great way to give back to the community and reminds you to stay humble.)
Are you worried about not having enough money to do fun things?

Although recreation and leisure is an important part of your life, and you should find time for it each day, some activities can be challenging to squeeze into your budget. To figure out how much you are able to spend on leisure activities, consider breaking down your expenses by creating a budget. It seems simple, but having a visual representation of where your money is going can be a helpful way to ensure that you’re spending your money wisely.

Take your total monthly expenses and subtract it from your income:

➢ paycheck minus expenses [rent + utilities + car payment + fuel + health insurance + groceries + subscriptions + prescriptions] = $ leftover for recreation/leisure

If you discover that you have little to no finances leftover for leisure activities that cost money, consider what things you can do that are cheap or completely free. The following activities are just a few examples of things you can do that cost nothing except the fuel it takes to get to the location:

  • Hiking
  • Going to the park to play a sport
  • Disc golfing
  • Visiting a museum (many are free to the public)

You can also find meaningful things to do at home. Brainstorm self-care activities such as:

  • Do yoga/meditation.
  • Take a bubble bath.
  • Create something (paint, doodle or knit).
  • Read a good book or listen to a podcast.
  • Bake your favorite dessert.
How do you make time for these activities?

It’s challenging to balance the demands of work, family, school and an intensive outpatient program/aftercare. It can be overwhelming to think about adding more things to our already long to-do lists. But remember that boredom can be a huge trigger, and complacency is dangerous to a healthy recovery lifestyle.

A good way to hold yourself accountable is by making a “Leisure Calendar.” Instead of adding events and tasks into your phone, consider purchasing or creating a personalized calendar. Humans respond well to visual stimuli, so having a calendar hanging up on your wall is a great reminder to complete necessary tasks AND have fun every day. Instead of just writing in appointments, meetings and other tasks, indicate on your calendar at least one thing that you can do for yourself every day that brings you joy. Plan out fun weekend activities in advance, and remember to tell someone about your plans because you’re way more likely to follow through with them.

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