As adults, we tend to think about escaping the throes of everyday life more than about making time to play or have fun. Yes, we need to be responsible, but we also need to nurture a balanced perspective of enjoyment. A common question for people new to recovery is “How will I have fun?” because alcohol or substances may have contributed to their ability to let loose or be creative. But there are numerous ideas for sober fun if you’re willing to stay open to different possibilities.
How Do You Define Fun?
Here’s one approach. In 2010, U.K. researchers Ian Christopher Mcmanus and Adrian Furnham determined that “although often used as if it were a single concept, ‘fun’ is actually a complex phenomenon that has different meanings for different types of people.” To help address this, they created a “taxonomy of fun” based on “the different types correlating systematically with participants’ demography, personality, and attitudes to fun.” They narrowed down the definition of “fun” to five types:
Jonathan Winter, founder of The Career Innovation Company, developed an even larger taxonomy of fun featuring 21 types. Although primarily designed for motivating employees, this taxonomy—which included elements of the five listed above and others such as expression, narration, power, and reflection—could also apply, Winter thought, to individual pursuits.
If you haven’t been able to truly define what sober fun means to you, don’t worry. But do set aside time to do so. Psychotherapist Sharon Martin states that “taking the time to learn about your interests and strengths is a way of taking care of yourself. It says ‘I deserve to have fun. My needs and interests are just as valid as everyone else’s’. Embracing your own idea of fun is a step away from people-pleasing and into your authentic self.” She offers some suggestions on how to discover what’s fun for you.
Ideas for Sober Fun
Learning to live fully in sobriety means embracing new concepts, especially when you’ve not had the chance to entertain many of your interests—or aren’t even sure what they might be. Here are just a few possibilities.
Truly one of the most enjoyable activities to share with other people in recovery is exploring the world. Whether it’s attending a festival in a nearby town or taking a tour to another country, the science-backed benefits of travel include improved immunity, enhanced cognitive abilities, and reduced stress. Plus, when you take trips with sober alumni, you’re all united in celebrating wellness without drugs or alcohol, which is incredibly reinforcing.
When you prioritize fun through various outlets, researchers believe you learn the valuable existence of “flow.” It’s described by Positive Psychology as “the positive mental state of being completely absorbed, focused, and involved in your activities at a certain point in time, as well as deriving enjoyment from being engaged in that activity.” We can sometimes achieve flow through work, but more people achieve it when they’re engrossed in something that truly interests them. Not sure what that might be? The New York Times Smarter Living Guide offers tips for how to find a hobby.
Learning through connection
Expanding your mind along with your social circle is another idea of sober fun. For example, most local libraries offer book clubs, discussion groups, and guest events that provide a foundation of community. Colleges and universities frequently host lifelong learning programs, special lecture series, or opportunities to audit classes for no credit. Museums host public workshops, movie events, and other ventures that expand your creative pursuits. It’s always worth taking a second look at what might be available in your area that’s out of your normal routine.
Unusual recreational activities
Without a doubt, exercise is often more enjoyable if it’s not the same old thing. Otherwise pickleball wouldn’t make sense at all! There are numerous outlets for movement-based recreation that don’t resemble the traditional tossing the ball around: ax-throwing, ping pong, Zorb bubble ball rolling, disc golf, ballroom dancing, standup paddleboarding, live action role-playing, bowling, parkour, slacklining…indoors or out, you’re bound to find something completely unique that intrigues you.
Few things boost your adrenaline more than tackling something that mixes expertise with a little of the unknown. Hang gliding, surfing, hydroflying, whitewater rafting, cliff climbing, scuba diving, parahawking, and sky diving are just a few of the extreme sports that require extensive training and laser focus but provide endless thrills.
Discover the Joy of Sober Living at Fair Oaks
The treatment philosophy of Fair Oaks Recovery Center in Sacramento is centered on a whole-person approach. Our rehabilitation programs are designed to introduce new habits and wellness techniques you can use to conquer cravings, identify addiction triggers, prevent relapse, and manage co-occurring conditions such as anxiety and depression. You deserve all the joy life has to offer—ask us how we can help you make the most of each sober day.