15 Self-Care Ideas for Those in Recovery

Photo credit: Drew Coffman via Unsplash

When you are no longer drinking, you might suddenly find that you don’t know what to do with all the time you suddenly have in your day. You need to find healthy ways to fill both the void now that you’re not engaging in destructive behavior. You’ve probably seen the hashtags and social posts about Self Care Sunday, but the truth is that in order to maintain your emotional and mental health, self care needs to happen more than once a week. 

Sure, there are no more Sunday Scaries for you but that might mean that you’re spending your weekends figuring out who you are now that you’re not out there being a party animal. Or you might not know what to do that doesn’t involve happy hour after work during the week. That’s where this self-care list comes into play! 

Below are 15 self-care ideas that you can engage in any day of the week. In fact, we recommend trying one a day, seven days a week. Even better, most of these sober self-care ideas are free or cheap, too, so you should be able to easily try one or two immediately.

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1. Engage in Some Exercise 

If you’re looking for something to do, exercise is always a great option. You can join a gym, which is especially fun if you also go to one with amenities like a sauna (HIGHLY recommend). If you live where nature is in abundance there is also free exercise like hiking with friends or your dog, running (ever tried doing a half-marathon?), or bike riding. Even in the city, you can walk the busy blocks to get your heartrate up. You can also try more adventurous things, like hot yoga, rock climbing, or kayaking.

2. Spend Time with (Supportive) Family 

One of the best things about having free time when you’re sober is that you get to choose what to do with that time instead of spending it hungover in bed for most of the day. A top activity you can do is spend time with those you love, like your family. Just make sure that you’re investing your time wisely with people that are supportive of your recovery.

3. Make Yourself Some Yummy Food

Cooking for yourself can be really nurturing for the soul. Some ideas include spending self-care Sundays on activities such as food prep, making pancakes or waffles, or even cooking something comforting during the cold winter months (like soup!). Another fun thing to do is make some homemade pizza or, if you’re feeling a bit on the lazy side, order in and enjoy some time off from the kitchen.

4. Try Something Spiritual

Spirituality doesn’t equate to church, though it could if that’s what works for you. Any kind of spiritual activity will work. For some, that means going to church or synagogue or mosque. For others, it might mean engaging in meditation or reading more books. Find what fills your soul, whatever that is, and do that.

5. Get Snuggles From Your Pets

Something that’s highly recommended on our self-care list is snuggles with your pets. Seriously. There is nothing better for some self-care than getting some love from your loyal pup or really cute kitty or even less conventional pets (just don’t try to hug the fish). Spend at least 20 minutes a day really engaged with your pet, and you’re sure to feel rejuvenated in no time.

6. Hang Out With Friends 

Time with friends is essential when it comes to your sobriety AND your self-care. Just as you want to hang out with family that’s supportive, the same goes for the other types of people that love you: your chosen family. There are tons of ways you can spend quality time with friends. A few suggestions include hiking with friends and brunching with friends. I’m personally a really big fan of the brunch suggestion for lazy Sundays that are spent NOT feeling hungover.

7. Check Out Free Events in Town 

No matter where you live, there are typically at least a few free events in town that you can check out. These might include anything from your local botanical gardens holding a nighttime holiday event to free concerts in the summer. There is lots to do, even if it might take a little extra research to find the things you actually enjoy doing.

8. Cozy Up for an Evening at Home 

You know what’s a REALLY good time sometimes? Not leaving the house. I’ll pause while you clap. Some great at-home options include things like Netflix ‘n Chill with your sweetie, making a pot roast and chilling on your couch, putting on comfy clothes while you drink your evening cup of chamomile, and engaging in some sort of quiet time. You don’t have to have a crazy, wild, party life anymore and you don’t have to pretend like that life was fulfilling, either.  Enjoy the quiet while you can.

9. Head to a Meeting 

Of course, nothing says self-care like taking yourself to a meeting. For many of us in recovery, getting to a meeting—whether online or in-person—is a great way of taking care of yourself. It’s important to know that the traditional 12-step recovery isn’t the only way, either. You can try one of the many AA alternatives. And, obviously, we can’t recommend Tempest’s Bridge Club highly enough. Likewise, Tempest membership gives you access to a ton of online meetings and resources. 

10. Do Something That Makes You Feel Good 

There are a LOT of things that can make you feel good but, here, we specifically mean things that will boost your self-esteem in some way. Getting your nails done, filling out grad school applications, going thrifting, heading to the farmer’s market, and the DayBreaker sober dance party. Basically, there are no limits as long as the thing you’re doing helps you feel like your authentic, best self… whether that potential includes buying fresh veggies for your Sunday night soup or just dancing the night (and early morning hours) away.

11. Go to Bed Early 

One of my personal favorite forms of self-care is getting a good night’s sleep. Usually, this means going to bed early. When I got sober, I was still mostly sticking to my midnight bedtime and found myself increasingly exhausted by it. Then, I started going to bed at 9 pm and my life changed for the better. These days, I wake up early and am much more productive because of that. Getting enough sleep doesn’t necessarily mean an earlier bedtime, though. Naps are another way to get some quality rest time in. 

12. Play Some Games 

Games are a great way to spend some time when you’re sober, whether that means playing video games solo (or with online friends) or getting together for regular board game nights with your best pals. You can even try a good old-fashioned game of solitaire to take the stress off.

13. Take Care of Things at Home 

This might not seem like the most popular form of self-care but it can make a huge difference in the way you feel. When you have a space that you love, being home is so much easier. Once things are organized, clean, and decorated the way you like, home will feel like a haven. Maybe try doing some chores (laundry?), grocery shopping, cleaning the oven, hygge-ing your home, and simply organizing. It’s a simple thing to do but a nice way to spend the time and, as a bonus, you’ll get a great house afterward.

14. Tap Back Into Your Creative Side 

Creativity is something that you might not think of as a form of self-care, but it’s one of those activities that people loved to engage in after getting sober and getting in touch with their deeper selves. To get creative, there are lots of options. You can journal, try a coloring book, do some writing, paint, or even try photography. And don’t worry, you don’t need a fancy camera for it — just your phone and some time outside.

15. And, of Course, Reading

 It’s not self-care Sunday if you’re not doing some reading, at least in my house. It seems that a lot of Temper readers feel the same, too. May we suggest some powerful women’s recovery memoirs? You won’t regret it.

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There are a lot of things you can do to take care of yourself in sobriety but the most important thing you can do is take time for yourself, period. Sober self-care is crucial in order to keep your recovery strong. Whether you choose one of the activities above or something else, don’t forget to do some self-care daily. And yes, we do mean on days other than Sunday!

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