As most of us have various responsibilities, we often have to make a deliberate effort to put fun at the top of the to-do list. And whether you’re fresh out of rehab or have managed recovery for some time, finding sober fun is sometimes a challenge, especially with other people. However, it’s important to make sure each day features something you truly enjoy.
Adults Need Recess, Too
We’re always looking for new ways to cope with stress more effectively, especially when the usual techniques don’t seem to work as well as before. But how often do you carve out some time to simply play?
Psychiatrist Stuart Brown is the founder of the National Institute for Play (NIP). In more than three decades of research, he’s examined the purpose of play in animals and adults. The conclusion: “Play supports our mental health, improves our ability to relate to others, and increases our drive and hope for the future. When play is missing or inadequate, it can have negative consequences in all of these areas.”
While some people might think playtime is only for children, Brown states all humans, regardless of age, are “built to play and built by play.” Play is as vital to our well-being as other basic needs, such as food, clothing, and shelter. NIP reports that scientists have concluded that “Play is one of seven primary emotional systems pre-wired in the human brain. Inadequate play leads to depression and can interfere with social and emotional development and learning.”
Brown, author of Play: How It Shapes the Brain, Opens the Imagination, and Invigorates the Soul, identified eight “play personalities,” and indicates we all have a mix of them, but one is likely more dominant. Our play personality is what defines our idea of fun, what brings us true joy. There are also different ways to play, based on your play personality.
Behavioral scientist Michael Rucker, who penned the book, The Fun Habit, also reinforces the purpose of having fun. He points out that “the luxury of leisure activity is meant to be time reserved for fun and enjoyment. Yet, all too often, we squander these opportunities for fun with activities that do not truly bring us joy.” Yes, this means mindlessly watching television and doom-scrolling may be part of downtime, but they’re not necessarily enjoyable activities. He’s created a play model to help people understand more about what makes certain things fun.
Ideas for Sober Fun
Keep in mind: it’s essential to not only have playtime with a partner, family members, and friends, but also with yourself. All too often, we’ll go along with what other people think is fun, and that’s a courteous thing to do—and yes, you’ll probably enjoy it. Just make certain you prioritize your playtime as well.
Define Your Sober Fun
Whether you follow your individual play personality specifically or want to try something new, here are some possibilities. If you’d like company, invite friends from your sober network to tag along.
- Take a dance class
- Find a hobby club that caters to your special interest
- Attend a comedy show, concert, play, sporting event, or some other live performance
- Volunteer at a local organization
- Try new nature activities, such as kayaking, a ropes course, or a hiking event
- Join a book club
- Take a cooking class, a ceramics course, or another learning opportunity
- Learn a new language
- Go to a museum or special lecture about something you’re interested in
- Expand on your exercise options by visiting a batting cage, driving range, or rock wall
Ideas for Fun Couple Activities
Choose something you both enjoy and that will help you connect with each other.
- Go on a picnic in the park, on a secluded rooftop, or in the backyard
- Play video games together
- Plan an overnight camping trip focused on stargazing
- Go for a hike or bike ride
- Visit a museum or art gallery
- Take a class doing something new to both of you
- Go bowling or play mini-golf
- Listen to an audio book together
- Just cuddle and talk
Family Fun Ideas
Give each member of the family a chance to suggest a fun activity. Remember, aside from maintaining safety, playtime doesn’t have to be a teachable moment.
- Play board games or card games
- Go to a zoo, aquarium, or museum
- Have a talent show, dance party, or karaoke night
- Try different activities together such as bowling, laser tag, or go-kart racing
- Do arts and crafts or create a new family meal
- Get outside by swimming, fishing, hiking, camping, biking, or canoeing
- Go on a scavenger hunt
- Pretend to be famous people by making masks and dressing up
Find New Life and New Possibilities at Great Oaks
Sobriety opens the door to different and better ways of thinking and being. Our philosophy at Great Oaks Recovery Center just outside of Houston is to help people struggling with substance use disorder or alcohol use disorder to move through challenges and into renewed lives full of health and purpose. One of the primary points of our focused continuing care program is helping people improve their quality of life and social functioning. If you’re ready for positive change, please call us.