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Hobbies are a fun way to practice mindfulness in addiction recovery. In addition, they benefit addiction recovery by activating the brain’s reward circuit. Essentially, practicing hobbies gives you the opportunity to have fun while improving your wellness. If you are seeking ways to improve your recovery experience, adding a hobby or two might be the perfect fit.

What Are Hobbies?

It’s possible you already have a few hobbies. Hobbies are habitual activities from which individuals derive pleasure. They are a great tool for practicing mindfulness because they are often repetitive and/or creative. Physical exercise can be a hobby, contributing to both your physical and mental wellness. However, hobbies need not be rooted in exercise for you to gain their positive benefits. 

Other examples of hobbies include:

  • Knitting
  • Crocheting
  • Painting
  • Coloring
  • Crafting
  • Making music
  • Drawing
  • Writing
  • Reading
  • Taking walks
  • Cooking

No interest is too small to become a hobby. Some individuals make a hobby of collecting a specific type of item. Others make a hobby of reading. The crux of a good hobby is that it is something you can return to repeatedly and continue enjoying it.

How Do Hobbies Benefit Addiction Recovery?

In Progress in Neuro-Psychopharmacology and Biological Psychiatry, it is noted that depression lowers the good feelings associated with hobbies. As mentioned above, engaging in hobbies stimulates the reward circuit of the brain. This means your body produces feel-good hormones when you engage in your hobby. 

This is similar to what happens in the brain during substance use and on which the brain comes to rely, creating addiction. Fortunately, hobbies are not negatively addicting, and they work to reduce stress. In fact, they can work to replace the habitual action of using, easing your recovery. Finding and developing a hobby is a great option!

Finding the Right Hobby

It can take some time to find a hobby you want to stick with. After all, it is often a daily practice that you can turn to when you need some downtime. Fortunately, the possibilities are limitless. 

When considering hobbies, keep the following in mind:

  • Make sure it is sustainable. Your hobby should be something you can keep up with financially, time-wise, and physically. There’s no point in falling in love with painting if you can’t afford paint, canvas, and brushes. Pick something you know you will be able to stick with.
  • Try it before you buy it. With the above in mind, check with friends and family to see if they have starter kits, tips, or activities you can sample prior to investing time, energy, and money into a hobby you find you don’t enjoy.
  • Think about what used to excite you. One great way to find a hobby is to look at what you enjoyed as a child. Did you make clothing for dolls? You might enjoy sewing. Did you make scenes outside in the dirt? You might enjoy landscaping. 
  • Do it because you love it. Or at least because you like it. Love can grow over time. Choose a hobby that makes you want to come back.
  • Keep it up. Hobbies are a type of self-care. Like all self-care, they require attention and practice before they become routine. With that in mind, start small and allow yourself to increase the time you spend on your hobby as your interest in it increases. 
  • Move on to the next thing. If your interest wanes, try something new. A hobby doesn’t have to be forever. It is normal for interest in activities to wax and wane. In fact, it may be beneficial to have more than one hobby that you can turn to when interested in other areas. 

Gaining the Most From Your Hobbies

Once you’ve found the hobby that’s right for you, come to it intentionally. Hobbies are a great way to practice mindfulness because they require you to be present in the activity you are choosing. This means you may feel a range of emotions while you are sitting and knitting. 

It’s important to remember that it is both normal and okay to have that experience. It is also normal and okay to feel resistance when uncomfortable feelings arise. Sticking with your hobby allows you to practice being vulnerable and experiencing what substance use can mask. 

If you have trouble settling on a hobby because you are facing emotional resistance, try the hobby again and consider the following:

  • When uncomfortable feelings happen, take a deep breath and let the feeling out with it
  • Acknowledge what you are feeling, but try not to judge any thoughts or emotions
  • Recall that you are engaged in an activity that is good for your brain; by practicing a hobby, you are healing yourself
  • Allow your emotions to empower your engagement in your hobby

Hobbies are habitual activities from which you derive pleasure. They positively stimulate the brain, resulting in a reward for participating. This makes finding and developing a great option for addiction recovery; you are able to receive the reward your brain is looking for with substance use through a safe, non-addictive medium. Finding the right hobby can take some time. You may need to try a few before you find what works best. Hobbies can be physical or non-physical, productive, or simply creative. They include swimming, running, knitting, painting, drawing, and making music. If you are ready to learn more about hobbies and how they can support your addiction recovery, call West Coast Recovery Centers at (760) 492-6509 today.

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