What to do when you’re sober and bored.
Are you reading this right now because you got sober recently and feel so bored you might spontaneously combust… or worse…drink?
You are not alone, my friend.
Getting sober is like learning to walk again after a terrible accident. You should be able to go about living your life without drinking alcohol, but you feel utterly useless and have no idea what to do with yourself.
I mean, look at all this TIME you have!
The hours you used to devote to drinking and recovering from drink have to be filled now with… well who knows what?
The more you think about it, the more annoyed it makes you, which is unfortunate because you’re already feeling rather annoyed these days.
Have no fear! I’ve been where you are, as have thousands of other sober people who had to learn to have a life again after sobriety.
Let’s help you get started, shall we?
7 Tips For Breaking Out of a Funk When You’re Sober and Bored
1. Get your Mindset Right
Sometimes, recognizing that your boredom is rooted in some underlying issues is a good starting place. Are you actually bored or are you wrestling with some depression or anhedonia?
Sobriety is a major lifestyle change. There is an initial learning curve. It’s important to have the right mindset about sobriety.
Don’t start getting down on yourself because you can’t get wasted at the bar with your friends anymore. You don’t want to fall down that rabbit hole.
Romanticizing alcohol is a terrible thing to do to yourself.
Also, don’t be a grump. If you are walking around saying that there’s nothing to do and everything about sobriety is boring and terrible, you are condemning yourself to misery.
That being said, drinking FOMO is real and must be dealt with. Sometimes admitting the truth to yourself is the first step.
It’s perfectly okay to say, “Hey, I’m in a weird spot right now.”
On the one hand, you have no idea what you’re supposed to do with yourself. It’s possible you don’t feel good when you first get sober and your emotions are all over the place.
And on top of all of that?
Your friends are out getting drunk, same as they always do. Meanwhile you’re at home wondering how many days it would take someone to find your body after you’ve choked on those peanut M&M’s you’ve been knocking back during your latest Netflix binge.
The BEST thing you can do right now is have a little faith.
Things are upside down. They will fall into place soon if you are patient and don’t drink.
You have to commit to not being bored anymore.
Here’s what I mean by that.
If you’re newfound sober boredom is making you feel sorry for yourself, that’s the first thing you need to tackle or nothing on this list is going to help you.
Do you ACTUALLY not want to be bored? Do you REALLY want to be happy and sober?
Because I can help you with that. I can point you in all kinds of directions. But YOU have to believe that you’re empowered to change the state of your internal world.
You have to, at the very least, be in the headspace that you’re willing to try.
Sobriety is an emotionally difficult time. Even if you’re mood is generally low and you find it confusing, so long as you’re willing to TRY to make it better, you’ll be fine. Something on this list will start to work for you.
I believe that if you clicked on this article, at least a part of you is willing to proactively tackle this problem. Keep that in mind if your inner critic starts acting up and trying to convince you that nothing here will work for you.
2. Find a hobby
Preferably one that keeps your hands busy (don’t be gross).
There are a few reasons for this:
- Finding something to do and care about helps create meaning in our lives, something you might desperately need at the moment.
- Engaging in hobbies that have you DOING something is a fantastic way to temporarily escape the raging firestorm in your brain.
Hobbies can quickly turn into a tool for mindfulness. Let’s say you decide you want to learn to knit. You’ve already picked out a name for your Etsy shop. It’s called Dude Scarves and it’s going to be great!
Learning a new skill is going to take 100% of your undivided attention. The time you spend learning to knit is time you are NOT spending thinking about how much you want to drink.
Eventually, you’ll become good enough that you can get lost in it. You’ll lose time and end up feeling much calmer and refreshed after you’re finished.
Obviously it does not have to be knitting. Take up baking, woodwork, designing stickers – anything hands on is a winner!
The point is to find something that can get you out of this boring, sober lull.
Getting a new hobby also opens up social opportunities. You can take classes or join creative groups and hang out with fellow knitters and sticker makers.
Additionally, you’ll get the natural high of having created something with your own two hands. That’s a major boost to your mental health.
If you’re rolling your eyes at this section, please refer to tip #1.
Okay, but I genuinely have no idea which hobby to pick
Totally fine and understandable!
What did you enjoy doing before drinking came around and took over your social life? If you have to dig WAY back into childhood for this answer, then do that.
Before I became an alcoholic, I loved to write. It was my passion. I kept a notebook and pen beside my bed in case I woke up in the middle of the night with a brilliant song lyric or poem.
That is the activity I’ve buried my energy into since quitting.
I would totally love to learn to knit or DIY refurbish a chair like they do on Flea Market Flip, but for now I mostly stick to writing and figuring out why my toddler is mad at me.
What did you like to do? Don’t worry if it’s cool or age-appropriate. If the internet has shown us anything, it’s that neither matters.
It doesn’t even have to be crafty.
Have you always wanted to learn to dance salsa? Get on Google, find a class, and make it happen. Plus, you might meet some cool people and that’s always a double win.
3. Take a fitness class or go to the gym.
Not only will the exercise help your physical and mental health, but it’s a fabulously healthy cure for sobriety boredom.
Depending on where you live, there are a variety of options available to you. Spin class, yoga, pilates, CrossFit, Zumba, Bootcamp.
Pick something and try it. If you don’t love it, try something else.
I’m a fan of Class Pass because it allows you to try out several different gyms and classes without having to make a commitment to any of them.
A word of caution: to the greatest extent possible, get out of the house for this part. If money is an issue, check out community centers or any yoga-by-donation type events.
Yes, you could just hop on YouTube and pick an exercise and it WOULD help, but you do need to force yourself to get out of the house whenever possible.
4. Go on a field trip.
If you have a willing friend or family member, take them along. If not, that’s cool too.
I found myself planning little outings when I got sober because I needed to figure out what it meant to have fun again.
So I went and saw shows at the local performing arts center. I dragged my husband to the zoo and aquarium. New museum opening up within driving distance? We were there.
When you get sober, you realize there is an entire daytime pulse in your city or town that you never really felt before. Things that people do during that day that don’t involve recovering or boozy brunch.
I like to check on Groupon when I’m being moody and can’t think of ideas for what to do. Not only does it put you on to events, eateries, or activities you hadn’t thought about previously, but you get a discount.
What’s not to love?
5. Get out in nature.
Whether it’s going for a walk in your neighborhood, visiting a park, or tackling a nature trail on foot or bike, find something to do to get fresh air.
We are stressed-out, overstimulated, tech-obsessed creatures. Pile on some sobriety struggle and it’s a recipe for madness.
Getting outside and communing with nature is scientifically proven to reduce stress and improve mental health and cognitive function in both kids and adults.
Start with going for walks 10-15 minutes every day. Pursue outdoor activities like kayaking or fishing. Go camping.
Reconnect with the trees, man.
You will feel better. If nothing else, it will help reset your attitude and clear the cobwebs in your brain so you can tackle your sober boredom more effectively.
6. Start journaling.
I’ve included this separate from hobbies because I don’t believe that journaling is a hobby. I’d classify it more as a tool.
It’s something I do in addition to my own creative writing.
When you first get sober, sometimes we misinterpret other feelings like depression and sadness for boredom.
It’s the difference between not being sure what to do and having zero motivation to do anything. Both are common in sobriety.
Unloading some thoughts onto the page can help you figure out what you’re actually feeling. Are you bored? Or are you lonely? Depressed? A combination of all three?
You have to understand what you’re feeling and WHY you’re feeling this way in order to change it. Journaling helps you do that.
It also opens up space to approach your internal world differently. One of the biggest impediments to my sobriety during my relapse days was my inability to avoid getting consumed by emotions.
I over-identified with every negative feeling in my body.
Oh I’m so sad. Nobody wants to be around me. I just want to cry and scream. I don’t know what to do anymore.
Which is not to say that these emotions weren’t serious or real. They were. But I didn’t know what to do with them besides feel them. And the more I felt them, the more intense and blinding they would get.
How journaling helps beyond boredom.
Journaling allowed me to step outside of my emotions. I could pour my heart out and every irrational thought onto the pages.
When I was finished, it was like someone had hit the refresh button on my brain. The intensity dimmed. I could go back and re-read what I wrote and approach it from the perspective of an outside observer.
Oh, okay. I keep going on and on about Friend X who didn’t invite me to this event. And I’m really mad about Event Y. There’s clearly something going on there. What can I do to fix this? If nothing, how can I move past it?
When you begin to view your negative thoughts and feelings as problems to be solved, rather than the embodiment of who you actually are, you liberate yourself.
It’s like figuring out how to play the guitar. It’s awkward, and slow-going, and hurts like hell, but you’re committed to figuring it out. So you deal with the unglamorous parts until you’re able to sweetly serenade the masses with your rendition of Wonderwall.
- Related Post: How Cognitive Distortions Prevent You From Recovering
One of the best things you can do for yourself when you’re feeling bored in sobriety is to find a way to be of service to others.
Volunteer at your local shelter or thrift store. Sign up to do some work in your community garden. Humans not your thing? Volunteer at the local Humane Society to walk dogs or pet cats.
Volunteering is a great way to reconnect to your community. Helping others actually boosts our own mental health and feelings of self-worth. AND, it helps us to become less self-absorbed which, quite frankly, a lot of us are.
If you have the time, sign on to a longer-term project like helping with this year’s charity bake sale or the big 5K race your city holds every year. You’ll get a chance to meet new people and be a part of something positive.
If nothing else, it starts to chip away at any notion you might have that you’re unworthy.
- Related Post: How To Forgive Yourself When You Get Sober
Sobriety Gets Easier
Whether your sobriety has you wallowing in boredom or self-pity, please know that it will get better. Even if you have no idea HOW things can change, trust the process and keep working on it.
Feeling bored, sad, lonely, or anxious about something are all very human things to feel. You’ll never escape them.
Sure, you tried to do that with drinking, but look where that got you!
- Why Alcohol Makes Your Anxiety Significantly Worse
- Everything You Want to Need to Know About Anxiety
- 7 Helpful Books About Depression & Anxiety to Help You Recover
So now comes the arduous task of learning how to manage the tough stuff without a chemical crutch like alcohol.
This is the part where you figure out how to enjoy life without a little something extra to help loosen you up.
And you know what?
Even if you don’t see it now. Maybe you think I’m full of shit. I certainly would have if I’d read this article five years ago.
But I PROMISE you, if you keep moving forward, things in your brain will start to click. Dark clouds will go away. And one day it will occur to you that you’re actually happy and enjoying your life.
In the meantime, the Soberish community is here to support you and help you get there.