It’s science. Hobbies don’t just bring you a few fleeting moments of temporary joy. From gardening to painting to reading, your favorite pastime has mental health benefits that long outlast the digging, the canvas, and the words on the page. In fact, research shows that having a hobby positively impacts your physical health, too.
That’s why finding an activity (or two!) to enjoy regularly is especially important for people in recovery. Hobbies help recovering addicts stay productive and fill the void a previous addiction leaves in its wake. Furthermore, leisure activities help people in recovery build confidence, reduce stress, make friends, and find happiness in their new, drug-free existence. In turn, all of these things decrease the likelihood of relapse and increase the chances for a successful recovery.
The thing is, it’s not always easy to find an activity you love, especially if you are limited by time, budget, and knowledge. Luckily, there are a lot of activities that are easy and inexpensive to start. Then, once you find your passion, you can dive all the way in!
For many people, cooking is a chore. But if you enjoy cooking for yourself, your family, or your friends, consider trying it out as a hobby. There are a variety of specialty areas you can focus on, from grilling to baking to smoking meat. You can choose where to begin with a specific type of cooking, like grilling or baking, or you can simply pick a new recipe you’ve been wanting to try.
No matter where you begin, there are lots of free and low-cost resources to help you set up your kitchen, pick the right tools, and make a grocery list. YouTube videos, online recipes, cooking shows, and cookbooks from the library will provide step-by-step instructions. With a little time, a little patience, and some high-quality ingredients, you can be on your way to creating culinary masterpieces in no time!
Gardening is one of the oldest pastimes known to man. Of course, back when people grew their own food, gardening wasn’t considered a hobby. Even so, the men and women who tilled, planted, and harvested were rewarded with more than just the literal fruits of their labor. Gardening is physical work that helps improve your overall health, including your heart and brain function, dexterity, and immune response. Like other hobbies, it also helps fight depression, reduce stress, and build self-esteem.
But you don’t have to plant a full-scale farm to reap the rewards. Flower beds, container gardens, and window boxes full of herbs can provide the same satisfaction and health benefits. Similar to cooking, there are endless online resources to help you plan, purchase, and plant your own garden. For in-person help, contact your local master gardener.
Art is for everyone. You don’t have to be the next Picasso, Brando, or Mozart to enjoy painting, performing, or playing an instrument. Actually, you don’t ever have to compose any art of your own. Just looking at, listening to, or watching a performance of a piece of art is good enough if those activities bring you joy.
Historically, the arts have a reputation of being expensive for both spectators and artists themselves. To keep costs under control, amateur creators trying to keep expenses low can start out with a single medium to minimize the type and quantity of supplies you need. If you’re just looking to soak in the beauty, consider volunteering at your local museum, theater, or music venue. In return, you can earn free or discounted tickets to showings and events.
So, what if you try all of these hobbies and none of them “stick?” Keep trying. From basketball to board games to basket-weaving, there are endless options when it comes to finding a leisure activity that brings you short-term joy but long-term health benefits. Here’s to a happy, healthy recovery!