Once you stop using and commit to a life of sobriety, it's often difficult to determine how to spend your time. You may have the urge to stay as busy as possible to make up for lost time in active addiction, or to distract you from cravings or the intense personal work that comes with recovery.
On the contrary, you may find yourself using your newfound freedom to indulge in mindless activities such as scrolling social media platforms or watching TV.
Although staying busy and checking in with friends on Facebook aren't inherently damaging, each can become a new addiction that hinders your recovery. It's important to begin to recognize which activities actually nurture your recovery, and which ones simply numb you out and distract you from it.
Here are a few therapeutic activities that you can engage in to nurture your body, mind and spirit, along with your recovery.
1. Cooking and Mindful Eating
It's not uncommon in active addiction for eating to be a mindless habit and, on some days, something that you neglect to do altogether. Sobriety brings the opportunity to reevaluate the foods you choose to put into your body and the gift of opting for revitalizing ones. Mindful eating involves not only becoming more aware of healthy food options, but changing your mindset to view eating as a ritual of gratitude. Pausing before every meal to give thanks for the opportunity to satiate your needs and eating slowly—just until you're full—are actions that nourish both your body and your spirit.
Cooking your own meals in sobriety may be a welcome experience, or it can be daunting if it's something you didn't practice in active addiction. However, cooking can be approached as kitchen therapy that provides an exciting opportunity to create recipes and to heal your mind and body, as well as help you regain a sense of responsibility to your health and well-being.
Because active addiction involves a lot of dysfunctional thinking, recovering addicts yearn and strive for clear thinking. The truth is, humans think in disjointed segments, and sometimes the best way to connect those segments and clear your mind of ruminating thoughts is to write them down. Whether it's through journaling, writing therapy, fictional storytelling or writing amends letters, writing is a creative outlet that can be very healing in recovery.
Writing gives you the chance to put your thoughts in visual form, so that you can observe them and reflect on their meaning. It also provides something you can hold onto, to have around for future reflections on the phases you've gone through in your sober journey. In addition, letting your thoughts out on paper can sometimes give the same relief that sharing with a trusted friend can have.
There's something about digging in the dirt that just feels right, that makes you feel like you're engaging in something essential. It's the process of discovering what unique elements each plant needs to flourish and providing them accordingly. To horticultural therapist Thomas Erskine, gardening provides a "sense of connection" that enables him to "lose the frenetic noise of a speeding world."
While re-learning to nurture yourself in recovery, learning to care for plants can provide a framework for your own self-care. Gardening offers the chance to promote life in other beings and learn to apply the same principles to yourself, while keeping your mind busy with productive thoughts in the process.
Practicing meditation in recovery can be an extremely powerful tool. The irony of meditation is that it involves taking conscious action to be inactive. It's a practice that provides stillness and silence, in order to clear your mind of ruminating thoughts that keep you stuck in the past or that cause future-tripping. The beauty of meditation is that you can choose to do it pretty much anytime or anywhere, and you don't have to be a mindfulness guru to reap its benefits. You can begin by committing to just 5 minutes of stillness and silence, along with deep breathing, and build from there.
Recovery is full of growth opportunities and, although you may not realize it just yet, you owe it to yourself and your sobriety to take advantage of them. No matter how low your rock bottom was or how often you're reminded of your failings in active addiction, you deserve these chances to fully recover in body, mind and spirit.