How to Make Time and Find the Resources for Leisure in Recovery

Wasatch Crest’s Director of Recreational Therapy Adelinn Cook, BS, TRS, CTRS, discusses the importance of making time for adventure, leisure, and self-care during recovery. She provides expert tips on how to stay active and inspired in your new life of freedom. You can watch her discussion below.

What is leisure?

Leisure is freedom from the demands of work or duty when one can enjoy hobbies. Leisure is not necessarily time to rest, although it absolutely can be. Leisure activities include anything that is outside of work, school, or family obligations. Some examples of leisure activities are rock climbing, fly fishing, disk golf, walking your dog, and even sitting around a campfire with friends.

What is recreation?

Recreation is refreshment by means of pastimes, diversions, agreeable exercise, or any other resource that offers enjoyment, amusement, or pleasure.

The Three Benefits of Recreational and Leisure to Recovery

1. Leisure and recreational activities provide diversion.

Diversion is important to keep our minds off of the daily stressors in our life. Flow is a psychological term to describe the optimal experience. In a flow state, concentration is so intense that there is no attention left over to worry about anything irrelevant. Any self-consciousness disappears and your sense of time becomes distorted. An activity that produces such experiences can be immensely gratifying, especially if you are willing to do the activity for its own sake with no concern of what you’re going to get out of it and whether it’s difficult or dangerous. You may have experienced flow if you’ve ever engaged in a sport or if you’ve created art.

2. Leisure and recreational activities provide structure.

Scheduling time for meaningful activities throughout the day has many benefits. We all know how important it is to have structure in recovery. Structure doesn’t mean that you have to do the same things every day, but rather it means having a sense of regularity and familiarity in your life. We respond well to schedules, and most of us prefer to know what lies ahead in our day. Structuring our leisure and recreational activities also gives us something to look forward to.

3. Leisure and recreational activities provide positive affect.

Recreation is immensely beneficial for the mind, body, and spirit. You can benefit physically, socially, emotionally, and spiritually from engaging in an activity that you enjoy. Research has shown that recreation can help reduce depression, relieve stress, increase self-esteem, and improve quality of life.

How to Develop New Leisure Interests and Rediscover Passions

When we get sober, we have a lot more 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 reflecting on your past leisure interests. What did you like doing before you started using? What did you like doing when you were younger? How can you nourish your inner-child? Also, think about your current interests. How do you like to spend your time now? How can you make those activities more conducive to your recovery lifestyle? Lastly, think about future interests. What activities have you always wanted to try? What activities push you out of your comfort zone and cultivate growth?

The Social, Physical, Emotional, and Spritual Benefits of Leisure and Recreation


What activities provide you with social benefits? What activities allow you to connect with others? Attending meetings allows us to connect with people that have similar life experiences. Joining a sober sports league can help you stay connected to the recovery community while having fun playing your favorite sports.


What activities are good for maintaining your physical health? You can find activities that engage your body physically that don’t have to involve going to the gym, running on a treadmill, or lifting weights. For example, hiking and rollerblading are good for maintaining your cardiovascular health.


What activities are going to help you fight mental health struggles? For example, going on long walks or jogs is a great preventative mechanism for depression. Rock climbing is good for improving self-esteem because it helps us feel empowered as we conquer our fears.


What activities increase your spiritual connection? Yoga and meditation can help strengthen the mind-body connection and establish a relationship with your higher power. Engaging in service work allows us to give back to the community and reminds us to stay humble.

How to Finding the Resources for Leisure and Recreational Activities

A big limitation to leisure and recreational activities can be money. Although recreation and leisure are important parts of life, and you should make time for them every day, some activities can be challenging to squeeze into your budget. To determine how much you should spend on leisure activities, consider breaking down your expenses into a budget. It seems really simple, but having that visual representation of where your money is going can be very helpful. Subtract your monthly expenses from your income. Your result is the money that you have leftover for leisure activities. If you discover that you have little to no money left over for leisure activities that cost money, consider activities you can do that are completely free, such as:

  • Go on a hike. The AllTrails app can help you find your perfect trail. Using the app, you can specify the length, elevation, and what you want to see on the hike.
  • Play a sport at the park, like disc golf.
  • Visit a museum.
  • Practice yoga and meditation. YouTube videos like the ones by Yoga with Adrienne allow you do guided yoga or meditation sessions at home.
  • Take a bubble bath using essential oils.
  • Create something by painting, doodling, or knitting.
  • Journal. You can start by making a gratitude list.
  • Read a good book.
  • Listen to a podcast.
  • Bake.

Making time for recreation and leisure can be difficult in recovery. We have to balance our family, work, school, and aftercare. It can be overwhelming to think about how to add more to our already long to-do lists, but remember that boredom is a huge trigger and complacency is dangerous to a healthy recovery lifestyle.

Try making a leisure calendar to schedule your leisure activities. Consider purchasing or creating your own personalized calendar. We respond well to visual stimuli, so having a calendar on your wall is a great reminder to complete necessary tasks and have fun every day. Instead of just writing appointments and things you have to do, indicate on your calendar at least one activity every day that brings you joy. Remember to tell people about your plans, even if it’s just shooting a quick text to a friend or family member. A simple text will make you more likely to follow through with the activity.

About the Author

Adelinn Cook, BS, TRS, CTRS is Wasatch Crest’s Director of Recreational Therapy. She is the curator of Wasatch Crest’s robust recreational therapy program, which includes adventure therapy outings, experiential group therapy, expressive therapy, and mindfulness interventions such as yoga and meditation. She works closely with clients to create personalized recreational therapy treatment and aftercare plans. Using evidence-based therapeutic methods, she guides clients to discover their passions, develop resilience, and ultimately develop meaningful lives in sobriety.

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