While no one enjoys feeling bored, there is some scientific evidence to suggest boredom has some benefits. That said, boredom can be dangerous for a person in recovery. Feeling bored might heighten the cravings for drugs or alcohol as you look for a way to feel better and more engaged. And the simple truth is that a person in recovery may have previously spent so much time engaged in substance abuse that they aren’t quite sure what to do with themselves now that drugs and alcohol are not an option.
Keep Boredom at Bay
So what can you do to stave off boredom and keep your recovery on track? Fortunately, we have some ideas.
Get Lost in a Story
When is the last time you read a great book? We don’t necessarily mean the kind your high school English teacher made you read (though a lot of those books are, in fact, pretty great when you don’t have to write essays about them!). Any story you can get lost in is a great option for fending off boredom.
Maybe you like science fiction, fantasy, or horror novels. Or romance novels, literary fiction, or mystery novels. Or you might enjoy reading graphic novels and other comics (they aren’t just about superheroes – though let’s face it: superheroes are pretty great). Maybe a true story about a famous person, a great battle, or an important event is what you need. Or maybe you would like to read a book by someone who understands the challenges of recovery and to whose story you can relate.
Now, reading can be a solitary activity, but your local independent (or even chain) bookstore or library might be able to connect you with readers who enjoy the same sorts of books you do. That’s right: book clubs are still out there. You might just need one that gathers around coffee instead of wine.
Get Your Body Moving
Getting some exercise may be just what you need to get out of your boring situation. Exercise boosts both your mood and your energy level. It can also lead to more restful sleep. And setting some fitness or skill level goals can help you keep your mind occupied in a positive way.
But maybe you’d rather do just about anything than go for a jog or lift weights. That’s okay. There are plenty of healthy exercise options. All you have to do is find something that appeals to you. You could try yoga. You could take up fencing. You could join a swimming club. You could take a dance class. You could decide to track your daily steps with an eye on increasing your activity a little at a time.
Exercise is an excellent boredom-buster because it can keep you occupied while also improving your overall health. That’s a win-win.
Get Things Organized
It might not be the most glamorous option, but there are benefits to beating boredom by getting your living space in order. A clean and organized home reduces stress—and might make you more inclined to invite friends and family over. Cleaning up the family room may mean you can host a weekly game night or watch movies or sports with friends.
Whether you latch onto one of the many popular organizational schemes out there or just get to work clearing clutter and making things around the house sparkle, you’ll be fighting boredom and setting yourself up to have more engaging social experiences.
Discovering (or rediscovering) the joy of cooking is another great idea with multiple benefits. You can support your overall health by making healthy meals for yourself—and your friends and family. And the activity itself can be a wonderfully satisfying way to overcome those feelings of boredom.
No matter your current skill level, there are lots of options to help you create tasty, nutritious food in your own kitchen. You can find a cookbook to help you prepare just about anything you’d like to try (and probably plenty of things you would not like to try). And you probably have a friend or two who know their way around a kitchen and would enjoy cooking with you. And of course, there are plenty of online options, too.
Get Into Something New
Now might be the perfect moment to start a new hobby—and the options are endless. Pick up a musical instrument. Try out for a play or join the stage crew at the community theater. Join an adult softball team. Collect baseball cards. Take up geocaching. Write a song or a short story or a poem or a book. Learn to solve Rubik’s Cube. Go bowling. Plant a garden.
As long as you enjoy the new activity, it doesn’t even matter if you are particularly good at it. A new hobby is about having fun and having an activity you can always return to when boredom strikes.
Get Help When You Need It
Sometimes boredom might threaten to get the better of you. If nothing sounds like any fun, drugs or alcohol might sound pretty appealing. In those moments, get yourself to a self-help or 12-Step meeting or reach out to your sponsor or most reliable friend or family member. You are not going through your recovery alone. Getting to a meeting with others who are having similar experiences may be just what you need to get past feelings of boredom and back on track.
The Aviary Recovery Center near St. Louis, MO, can also offer options for those who have completed residential treatment. Aftercare and relapse prevention services are available and will help you overcome boredom and other challenges as you maintain your sobriety. There’s nothing boring about getting better—and we are always eager to lend a supportive hand.