Recovery can be hard work. Sure, it comes with a lot of rewarding and healing moments too! But recovery requires your effort, attention, and perseverance. It asks that you have a goal for your life, a vision to work toward, and a community of support to help get you there. Because of the effort that recovery demands, it’s important to balance it out with moments of enjoyment, fun, and amusement.
It might sound obvious that if you’re experiencing periods of stress, especially if those moments are emotionally draining, you’ll also need time to unwind, relax, and enjoy yourself. However, having a balanced life isn’t the only reason to include fun and laughter in your recovery. Having fun is actually necessary in order to recover from addiction in a healthy and holistic way. We asked our Seaside Terrace Program Director, Matthew Weiss, what the balance of sobriety and having fun means to him:
“Fun in sobriety is something that is overlooked a lot of the time and is also one of the most important aspects of recovery. One needs to feel enjoyment in their life to give balance to all the deep interpretive work we all do in recovery. Whenever I have had a rough day or week I try to plan something with friends that has nothing to do with work or recovery. Something new that I have always wanted to try like paint balling or something that has always brought me enjoyment like going to a car show or a baseball game. Even something simple like going to a local farmers market or taking a drive somewhere I have never been ends up being a lot of fun and rejuvenating to my soul.”
The Free Dictionary defines “holistic” as that which considers the physical, psychological, emotional, social, and economic facets of a person. At Transcend Recovery Community, you’ll find a community of recovering addicts who are healing, growing, and yes, having fun together. We plan day-long outings, big trips, family weekends, and two experiential group sessions each week, which include acupuncture, meditation, mindfulness techniques, and yoga. And if you’re idea of having fun is going to the gym, we also give each of our residents a membership to an exclusive gym with a full spectrum of workout options.
If you want to grow and heal the many areas of your life, include fun and laughter in your recovery for all these reasons (and beyond):
Laughter lowers your blood pressure, improves breathing, and regulates your heartbeat. Laughter also improves your memory, boosts your immune system, helps you sleep better, and prevents obesity. When you laugh and experience enjoyment, the body releases endorphins. Endorphins are neurotransmitters that send a message of enjoyment to the brain.
Having fun and laughing has been proven to be an effective method of coping with stress. Having rewarding, light-hearted experiences can help change your outlook on a situation, shift your mood, and feel better about yourself. Also, having fun can be an opportunity to reconnect with yourself and appreciate the efforts you’ve made toward reaching your recovery goals.
Having fun can be an emotional release. When you’re laughing with friends, playing a musical instrument, or even singing along to your favorite song, you have the opportunity for healthy emotional expression and connection.
Research shows that the happiest couples have a great deal of fun together. According to John and Julie Gottman of The Gottman Institute, “people are much happier in their relationships if – for every one disagreement or hurt feeling – they create five loving, positive and fun interactions to counter it.” Whether you’re having fun in your intimate relationships or in your friendships or with your family, doing so helps with strengthening healthy relationships and learning a new way of relating to others.
With regular experiences of joy, you’re more likely to stay physically, psychologically, and emotionally healthy, which can help prevent medical or mental health issues from developing and, in turn, save money.
Believe it or not, many men and women in recovery need to learn how to have fun. They may need to define what having fun means to them as a recovering addict. And learning how to have fun means remembering to include enjoyment in your life on a regular basis. Our Yale House Program Elliot Bokman, said it the best:
“Having fun in recovery is a must! If we aren’t enjoying ourselves and having fun, we probably won’t stay sober for too long. I personally had to learn how to have fun again after getting sober because I had used for so long that I didn’t know how to have fun without drugs and alcohol. When I’m feeling stressed, anxious or down, I will get myself together with a couple buddies or the residents of the Yale house and get into a boxing class, go for a hike or just hang out at the beach and throw the football around.”
For anyone who wants to integrate back into living independently, enjoy happy and healthy relationships, and maintain a balanced life, be sure to make time for enjoyment and pleasurable experiences.