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Get rid of the blues and recharge with a new hobby

By Aimee Lyons, Guest Blogger

Hobbies including everything from cardio classes to crocheting can increase people’s sense of mental well being and boost brain health. Such activities have additional advantages for people in addiction recovery who might be searching for productive ways to spend their time. And, whether your primary goal is socializing or sweating, experts agree hobbies help reduce stress while increasing your sense of satisfaction.


Need help picking a pastime? Consider taking a community college class to experiment with something you’ve always found interesting but never taken the time to try. Or, search the events calendar at your local library to find a sewing circle or sci-fi book club to join. Meanwhile, here are a few suggestions to get your search started.


Explore Art


Art therapy has been used to treat substance use disorders since the 1950s and has several documented benefits including providing people an outlet for communication and reducing resistance to alcohol treatment programs. But art doesn’t have to be created in a structured setting to be therapeutic. Research shows that activities including painting, sculpting, drawing, and photography can lower stress levels and leave people feeling more mentally focused, according to an article published by Be Brain Fit. In fact, amateur artists might find themselves so engrossed in an endeavor that they achieve a state of flow, a meditative-like mindset that temporarily pushes aside everything except what they’re working on at the moment -- a plus for anyone in today’s age of information overload.


Create Connections With Your Food


Growing your own food is a great way to get more in touch with what you put in your body. Gardening is also a fruitful form of outdoor exercise. And, if you don’t have a space of your own to sow seeds, consider community gardens, which are sprouting up all over the country. Investing some sweat equity at one could reap rewards including new friends and, of course, fresh fruits and vegetables.


Gardening could also inspire many to move to the next link in the food chain. Once you’ve harvested the results of your hard work, why not whip up something new and interesting with the fresh-picked produce? Doing your own cooking is an excellent recipe for improving your health.

Try Tai Chi and Yoga


Many recovering addicts find yoga and tai chi particularly helpful for bringing their minds and bodies into balance. Sessions are as meditative as they are physical because they encourage practitioners to focus their minds on their movements. Plus, both forms of exercise are easily adaptable depending on an individual’s fitness level and can be practiced almost anywhere with little or no equipment.


Volunteer


An article on the Rewire Me website recommends volunteering as a healthy habit to adopt during recovery. Helping others will boost your sense of empathy -- and empowerment -- by giving you an outlet to make a positive difference in the world. If logistics prevent you from volunteering in person, consider ways you can use the time and resources you have.  For instance, there are virtual volunteer activities that connect people with worthy causes nationwide. You could craft handmade blankets for homeless people in Dallas or review scholarship applications for a nonprofit educational foundation, just to name a few.


No matter what activities you enjoy, hobbies can help decrease stress and improve your mental and physical well-being. So whether you spend your free time painting portraits or striking yoga poses, these pleasant pursuits will help keep you happier, healthier, and focused on the future.  

To sign up for a relaxing art class visit

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