Do the words “fun” and “recovery” belong in the same sentence? Perhaps it’s not your initial thought, but there’s no reason why recovery can’t bring joy. In fact, having fun throughout your recovery is an important element of making lasting change possible. Being sober not only benefits your physical, spiritual, and mental health, but it also opens your world to new experiences and possibilities. At The Dorm, we approach recovery with community, connection, and fun at every step. These elements are at the very heart of what we do, and our mental health outcomes show that our model of care works.
Here are four ways anyone can incorporate fun and joy into recovery treatment based on our approach.
1. Find your people, find your community.
To begin a joyful recovery, it’s important to build meaningful connections with like minded peers. Addiction is a disease of isolation and so connection and peer-to-peer support is paramount to early recovery success.
At first, connecting and socializing with others while sober will feel hard, uncomfortable, even awkward! That’s normal. But the more you do it, in safe and supported environments with those who respect your recovery experience, you’ll lay the foundation for deeper connections.
Not only will spending time with others provide you with accountability and a grounding distraction in the early phases of recovery, but you might also start to feel energized after spending time in social settings again.
Some suggestions that we offer and recommend at The Dorm include:
12 Step Groups
Spending time with people who relate to your experience but also support you with structured accountability is really important. 12-step groups are a natural place to meet others on a routine basis who can process and navigate recovery alongside you.
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12 step communities offer varying social interactions, from one-on-one conversations with peers or sponsors to group meetings and post meeting fellowship gatherings. 12 step groups also host a variety of social events such as dances, parties, adventure-based trips, sober ski houses and beach houses!
At The Dorm, we connect our young adult clients with 12 step groups in their communities specifically for young people. Within these spaces, individuals spend time with others their age who may have gone through similar experiences with alcohol or drug use. One example of a young person 12-step meeting is the Lost and Found Group which we host on Monday night at our Upper West Side, NYC Clubhouse that is open to both Dorm clients and young people in the outside community.
Sober peer-to-peer groups and communities.
If you’re in a college environment, seek out student groups or clubs or community sports leagues to attend – and don’t be afraid to ask the organizers for sober-oriented activities (you might be surprised by how many exist!).
At The Dorm, we have group activities and clubs centered around music, crafts, cooking, botany and social justice (just to name a few). And because connection and fellowship are cornerstones of our treatment model, we offer every client with us many ways to stay busy and socially active – whether that’s a game of ping pong in between therapy sessions in our community clubhouse spaces or a friendly trivia competition.
2. Give back to your community.
Giving back through volunteering to the local community not only provides others with help, but it also offers you a greater sense of purpose. We are a social species, and helping others is intrinsically rewarding and fulfilling!
When you step outside of yourself, you’ll also increase your awareness of those around you, practice responsibility, accountability, and positive ways of connecting with others. All of these concepts can be applied to recovery. Volunteering itself might not seem like hard work, but its impact is vast.
At The Dorm, we regularly support our clients in their efforts to volunteer and help others. In New York City, for example, we regularly work with NY Cares projects or coordinate our own donation drives and projects for local organizations such as Care for The Homeless, True Colors United or Stars of Hope. If our clients have a particular passion or are interested in a specific area of social justice, we’re committed to helping them find ways to get involved. We know that helping others creates self-efficacy, and self-efficacy can go a long way in helping our clients along their own recovery journey.
3. Add joyful movement to your routine.
Incorporating exercise or movement into your daily routine is another way to feel engaged during recovery. Many people find joy in working out – and that doesn’t have to mean running! You can do yoga or Pilates, go on walks in the park, or throw a dance party in your bedroom. Any activity that brings your body into motion is a great way to let loose and distract your mind from the stress you may be carrying. And to that end, body movement doesn’t have to be rigorous or complicated. In fact, sweat isn’t a requirement; just pick something that is fun!
Moving your body is a good way to take care of it, and physically taking care of yourself can bring you a feeling of satisfaction and meaning. The bonus? Research shows that physical movement can reduce negative mental health symptoms, boost energy, promote better sleep, encourage social activity, improve memory and increase confidence.
At The Dorm, we encourage everyone in our community to cultivate a healthy relationship with everyday movement which is why we introduce our clients to a variety of individual and group programming including:
- Restorative & Therapeutic Yoga
- Myofascial Release (SMR)
- Mindfulness & Meditation
- Health Education
- Strength & Stability Training
- Active Yoga Flow
- Self-Defense for Self-Empowerment
- Sports & Activities
- Private 1:1 Training
In so many ways, we strive to help everyone in our care feel physically and emotionally well while moving forward in their sober life.
4. Engage with new experiences.
The last way to incorporate fun and joy into your recovery treatment is to try out new experiences. You might take up a new hobby such as pickleball, knitting, ceramics, or choir. If you’ve been waiting to take up a new skill or learn a new language, now is a great time to put effort into it. You might start a postcard collection; try your hand at writing poetry; or begin a succulent family. New hobbies use your brain in different ways. They can feel challenging at first, but giving yourself a few weeks to really get into these experiences allows you to separate past habits from new routines. Along the way, you might start to enjoy your new hobby too! Nothing feels better than when a plant begins to grow a new leaf after it’s been under your care.
Some ideas include:
- Explore new places as a way to engage with new experiences
- Try taking the bus across town to a new neighborhood and walk around
- Try a new grocery store or try biking instead of a cab
- If you always walk home along the same route, change it up and take a different one
Our brains love new, novel experiences, and allowing yourself these types of experiences can help you enjoy your sober life in refreshing ways. Every little moment can be an adventure if we’re open to it!
At The Dorm, we offer many ways to have fun in recovery treatment and explore different parts of yourself.
As part of our intensive outpatient treatment experience, clients are part of a cohort and community that support each other in groups and through plenty of social activities in between. From movie screenings in our community clubhouse to excursions and field trips to the beach, amusement parks, Broadway shows or local sports games, we want to give our clients countless ways to find joy in their evolving lives.
Recovery comes with many challenges, so it’s important to balance out the journey with fun things. If you aren’t sure how to incorporate joy into your sobriety, and are looking for a new level of joy and community during your treatment experience, we would love to help you.
To learn more about the ways that we have fun at The Dorm or see if we are a fit for you, please reach out to us.