Tips For Succeeding In Recovery: Embrace New Hobbies To Build Up Mental Health


When one is working to stay sober and put an alcohol or substance addiction behind them, creating a new lifestyle filled with healthy habits is critical. Oftentimes, one’s previous habits were closely linked to their substance use, so finding new outlets for activity is essential for success. Building a healthy, sober life post-rehabilitation can be challenging, but incorporating new hobbies can have a big impact.

Hobbies can help you rebuild a healthy life

A sober life does not have to be a boring one. Embracing new hobbies once you are sober, or reigniting your passion for previous hobbies, can make a big difference in building healthy habits and staying committed to your recovery. New, healthy hobbies can pave the way for new friendships and connections that will help you build your new life, and hobbies can reduce your stress levels and improve your mental health.

Avoiding isolation is key in maintaining your sobriety, and sometimes people in recovery need to rebuild their social skills. It can feel intimidating to make new friends as you work on your sobriety, but trying new hobbies can make the effort seem less overwhelming. When you are joining a group activity, you already have something in common with others and that can make it easy to start a conversation or make a connection.

You can join a card or game club, a community sports team, take some classes, or join a theater group, for example, and all of these hobbies help you connect to others who share similar, healthy interests with you. Everyone going through recovery knows that it is critical to keep a distance from old associates who are still using alcohol or drugs, and building up new hobbies that pave the way to interacting with others can help you move forward.

Challenge your brain and boost your mental health by trying new hobbies

Hobbies are great outlets for sparking creativity and building new skills, and these activities will challenge and boost your brain. When you tackle a new hobby that challenges you, you will often develop a sense of confidence and accomplishment, and those qualities will help you feel stronger as you move forward in your sobriety. Some hobbies that can be especially impactful in challenging your brain include learning how to play a musical instrument, learning a new language, art, reading, or throwing yourself into doing puzzles, Sudoku, brain teasers, or board games.

It can be especially helpful to focus on new hobbies that help to build both your physical and mental health, and Spirituality Health shares some valuable suggestions. You may want to try out Tai Chi or yoga, or reach out to do some volunteer work with a group that sparks a passion for you. Practical crafts can also be good hobbies to try for those working on recovery, such as knitting, woodworking, gardening, or cooking. You may also want to try out a hobby that connects you to animals, as time with dogs and other animals can reduce stress and boost your mental health. In addition, anything that gets you outdoors can be great for your mental and physical health too.

Boredom is a bad thing for people working to put an alcohol or drug addiction behind them, so finding healthy ways to fill up the hours of the day is essential. While your new sober life will include plenty of commitments to maintaining your sobriety, developing new hobbies can be critical to your success. Whether you go back to a healthy hobby you used to love or branch out and try something new, you will see your mental health strengthen and your stress levels decrease, and the socialization aspect will be a big benefit as you rebuild your life.

 

Thai Carrot Salad

Photography by: Sonia Lyons

After tinkering around with a recipe sent to me by a friend, I came up with the recipe for Thai Carrot Kale Salad below.  Now that summer is here, I make this recipe every week or so.  It’s crunchy and delicious, does not require heating up my kitchen with the oven.

Thai Carrot Salad Recipe

  • 1 lb shredded carrot (I use rainbow colored carrots)
  • 1/4 large thinly sliced red onion
  • Large bunch of kale destemmed and chopped
  • 2 C sriracha peanuts
  • Thumb sized grated ginger root
  • 1/4 C soy sauce
  • 1/4 C lime juice
  • 2 t sesame oil
  • 1/4 C maple syrup
  • 2 T chili garlic sauce

Directions

Place all ingredients in a large bowl and mix it up!

Can be made it bulk, and stays fresh for two weeks in the fridge.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Orange Lilies, Vincas and Baby Zucchini 

My friend E, who lives in The States, recently mailed me some lily bulbs and Vinca seeds! My sister SAL mailed us some black beauty zucchini seeds as well! Since both items arrived with our neighbor, who recently returned from The States, on Monday, I thought I’d get them all into the ground together.  Here is a picture of the spot in which I planted them.

I’m excited to see a few days later some green shoots are popping up from the lilies.

 Can’t wait to see the other plants pop up too!
Here are some of the other plants along the wharf:

The banana forest, herb and salad garden and flower garden area.

Our banana forest is producing another bunch of bananas 🍌! 

Here are some of the plants from the salad & herb garden:

Mint

Sweet Marjoram

Red striped amaranth (an edible salad leaf, eaten raw or cooked)

Seedlings of Red above 

Katuk (edible salad, raw or cooked)

Mexican Oregano 

Rosemary 🌹 

Acorn Squash

Lemon Guava 

Rue

Yay gardening! 

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Southwest Chicken Pie

I found this shredded chicken recipe last week and it was delicious!  I made a double batch, using the salsa chicken I made in the crockpot that same day,and ended up freezing half. I also made a few modifications and substituted/added ingredients I had on hand and needed to use up. Tonight I pulled out the pie crust I made recently from this piecrust recipe and decided to thaw out the chicken I saved to make a casserole pie!

Ingredients (prepwork in parentheses) 

  • 1 lbs Yuca Root or Potatoes (peeled, chopped and par-boiled)
  • 1 lb chicken breasts (cooked and shredded) OR 3 cups Salsa Chicken (do not add tomato, pepper, onionor cilantro below, if using salsa chicken)
  • 3 tablespoons butter
  • 3 tablespoons flour
  • 1/4 cup water or broth
  • 1 cup yogurt (strained thick)
  • 1/2 cup onion  (chopped) optional – do not add if using salsa chicken
  • 1/2 cup  bell pepper (chopped) optional – do not add if using salsa chicken
  • 1/2 cup tomato (chopped) optional – do not add if using salsa chicken
  • 1/2 lb cooked (or can) beans 
  • 1/2 can sweet whole corn 
  • 1 teaspoon cumin
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon pepper
  • 1 tablespoon fresh cilantro or 1 teaspoon dry (chopped) optional –do not add if using salsa chicken
  • 2 cup cheese, divided (shredded)
  • 1 pie crust (rolled out to fit casserole dish)

Directions 

  1. After doing all the prep work above, see parentheses next to each ingredient, put all items, except 1 cup cheese and pie crust, in stand mixer. Stir on lowest setting until ingredients are all incorporated making the filling for the casserole. Add a little water if it doesn’t resemble thick batter. Should be thick but sorta pourable.
  2. Put crust into lightly greased casserole dish, pierce with fork, press out air bubbles.
  3. Pour filling into prepared casserole pan with pie crust. Sprinkle remaining cheese over top. 
  4. Bake in preheated oven (350 degrees) for 1 hour, broil for last 10 minutes until cheese is melted and slightly golden. 
  5. Let cool for 10 minutes, cut and serve.

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    Marshmallows

    I really wanted to test out my kitchenaid whisk attachment and some of the higher speeds today.  I decided what better way to do that than making homemade marshmallows for the FIRST. TIME. EVER!!  It was really easy only took 3 ingredients and the outcome was overall fantastic!! I am really enjoying my new Kitchenaid Pro Design 600 that I picked up refurbished by the manufacturer for $220 with the pour shield, spiral dough hook, whisk and cake paddle attachments.  It has held up to everything I’ve thrown in it and is making cooking so much more fun!

    Wanna make some marshmallows too?

    Marshmallow Recipe

    Ingredients

    • 1 cup honey
    • 1/2 cup sugar
    • 2 (.25oz) packets unflavoured powder gelatin
    • 1 cup water

    Instructions

    1. Put 1/2 cup water in the botton of the mixer bowl, sprinkle gelatin over water, walk away.
    2. In a small saucepan pour remaining 1/2 cup water, honey & sugar. Cook over medium-high heat until boiling, then about 7-9 minutes later check the temp using a candy thermometer if you are lucky enough to have one, I am not, or use the cold water test discussed here.  Once you’ve reached correct temp of 240 degrees farenheit, remove from heat.
    3. Turn mixer on to lowest setting and slowly, pouring down the side of the bowl, add the honey mixture.  Once all the mixture is incorporated, time to crank up the speed.  Turn it up to highest speed setting (mine is 10) and let it do it’s thing while you wander around the house waiting so patiently for it to thicken up and resemble marshmallow fluff (or really really stiff frosting).  Roughly 10-15 minutes.
    4. Once it’s thickened to your liking scoop into a 13×9 pan lined with parchment paper…or if you are like me and too lazy to wash the ONLY pan you have that size in time…just spread it out on the piece of parchment paper and using your finger kinda spread it around into a rectangular shape that’s roughly 5cm high.
    5. Set aside in a safe place ,where no little fingers will try to lick it, to dry for approximately 12 hours (overnight is good too).  Cut into whatever shape makes you happy and store in a dry coolish place….or eat them…or do whatever you like to do with marshmallows.

    For storage: I dust the cut marshmallows in flour and put in an air tightish container. They should keep for about a month…assuming they last that long!!

    The KitchenAid in action:

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    Baked Crispy Fish & Potato Casserole

    Ingredients

    • 2 pounds Potatos (peeled, chopped, parboiled) 
    • 2 pounds Fish Fillets 
    • 1 cup Homemade Mayonnaise (room temperature)
    • 1 cup Cheddar Cheese (shredded)
    • 1/4 stick (2 oz) Butter (cut into small cubes)
    • 4 tablespoons Oil (get fancy use something delicious…Olive, Coconut, Almond..live a little)
    • 8-10 round Butter Crackers (crushed, think Ritz crackers)
    • 1/4 cup sliced Almonds
    • 1 teaspoon Homemade Fish & Poultry Seasoning

      Instructions

      1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees farenheit. In a lightly greased 13×9 pan line bottom of pan with parboiled potatoes.  
      2. Over potatoes evenly place cubes of butter, drizzle 2 tablespoons oil and sprinkle 1/2 teaspoon of F&P Seasoning.
      3. Pour 1/2 cup mayonnaise over all of the potatoes, then sprinkly 1/2 a cup of cheddar cheese over the mayonnaise.
      4. In a single layer place fish fillets on top of the cheese ensuring full coverage of the lower layers.
      5. Pour remaining 1/2 cup of mayonnaise over fish fillets followed by remaining 1/2 cup of cheddar cheese.
      6. In a small bowl mix crackers, almonds and remaining 1/2 teaspoon F&P seasoning until well incorporated. Generously cover the top of the cheese layer with cracker mixture, ensure that it is completely covered. Drizzle remaining oil evenly over the cracker mixture.
      7. Bake uncovered for 30-40 minutes or until crust is golden brown and fish is flaky and potatos are easily pierced with a fork.

      Serve with a simple side salad of fresh spring greens, tomatos, onions & shredded carrots, topped with one of these delicious homemade salad dressings (link coming soon!!)


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      Chiriqui Grande

      Today I went to Chiriqui Grande for some food and fabric.  My neighbor drove me in his boat.  He likes to leave early, usually he picks me up around 730a. The trip takes approximately 30-45 minutes depending on the weather and today we had totally calm water and brilliant blue sunny skies!  It was HOT.

      Once I get into to town I usually stop at the little restaurant near the dock for a quick breakfast.  This morning it was scrambled eggs and these little oval shaped meat filled potato pastries, they look like fingers. Ha!  After breakfast I wander around the town with my list, returning often to the boat to drop things off, acquiring all kinds of items.  Today was no different.  My spoils included a variety of fruit, vegetables, chicken food, chicken for eating and fabrics for sewing.  Overall it was a successful trip and I was able to return back home by 130 as planned after dropping off a friend of ours, who came along with me.
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      Crunchy & Green Triple B Muffins

      Bacon, Bananas & Blueberries???
      In muffin & loaf form? WHAT?!?!?

      Yes I did it. They were absolutely delicious.  Feel free to make some of your own. 

      Crunchy & Green Triple B Muffins

      This recipe makes approximately 24 muffins or 6 muffins and a 7″ loaf.

      Ingredients

      • 2 cups all-purpose flour
      • 3/4 cup granulated sugar
      • 3/4 teaspoon kosher salt
      • 2 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
      • 1/4 cup bacon grease with a bit of neutral flavored oil to top off the measuring cup
      • 2 large egg (can substitute 1/4 cup banana or applesauce for each egg to make egg-free)
      • 3/4 milk; dairy and non-dairy both work
      • 1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
      • 6 to 8 ounces fresh or frozen blueberries (do not thaw frozen) (about 1 cup)
      • 1/2lb crispy bacon (reserve grease for oil in recipe), crumbled
      • 2 small ripe and soft bananas
      • 2 tablespoons flaxseeds
      • 1/4 sliced almonds
      • 1 whole kale leaf or handful of baby spinach

      Directions

      1. In a large bowl, mix until well combined, flour, sugar, salt, baking powder, flaxseed and almonds. 
      2. In a 2 cup liquid measuring cup put grease/oil, eggs, milk, vanilla, bananas and kale/spinach, using an immersion blender, puree until all ingredients are smooth. 
      3. Mix blueberries and then bacon into flour mixture. 
      4. Add liquid mixture and fold until just incorporated, do not overmix, you want the ingredients to all be moist, but a little lumpy is fine. 
      5. Scoop by the spoonful into muffin cups (about 3/4 full) or pour/scoop into loaf pan.
      6. Place in preheated (375 degrees F) oven for 15-20 minutes (6/12 cup muffin pan), 45 minutes for loaf pan.  Remove with you can insert knife/toothpick into center and remove clean and tops are golden brown.  

      Serve with butter and honey/maple syrup!

          Enjoy! 

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          Crochet Owl Eye Mask

          I started using an eye mask off and on lately since we live in an open floor plan houseboat and have different bedtimes. I have found it to help quite a bit actually! Anyway my first eye mask was a strip of felt stapled to a strip of 1″ wide elastic. I know super lazy.  Actually I came up with it one night on a spur of the moment and it definitely did the job! So I decided I wanted something a bit more… posh.  

          After looking around for ideas on the internet I found this

          That was a week ago…. 

          Yeah I get busy around here apparently. 

          Ha! 

          Anyway after an hour of diligently focusing… 

          Ok  more like a divided hour over a 3 hour period of my day…. 
          I completed one too! 

          Yay!  
          Alright. 

          Goodnight! 

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          ​Super Soft Lightly Sour Sourdough Bread (in the bread maker or not)/Dinner Rolls and Pizza Crust

          I was on the hunt for a sourdough sandwich bread that my kids would eat AND I could do practically all of it in my gazillion dollar bread maker.  I found this FANTASTIC recipe over at The Fresh Loaf.  After making it EXACTLY as TX farmer notes,  in her sandwich loaf recipe mentioned above, and it turning out SUPER,  I decided to tweak it to suit my lazy need to not measure things by weight unless ABSOLUTELY necessary. Here is the outcome of my “2 additional loaves made  already ” adventure.  
          Ingredients 
          Starter Dough

          26g fed Sourdough Starter

          44 g Whole Milk Milk

          82g  AP Flour

          Let sit at around 72 deg overnight (12 hours) 

          Final Dough 

          (in this order in the bread maker, or whatever order your bread maker calls for) 

          1 Starter Dough portion (this is the yeast) 

          4 1/4 cups Flour (AP or 1 cup WW for 1 cup AP) 

          1 Tbs Sugar

          2.5 Tbs Butter

          2 tsp Salt

          In a 2 cup Measuring Cup add the following:

          2 whole eggs

          fill up to 1.5 cup line with Whole Milk 

          Directions 

          Using a bread maker, select a 20 min dough cycle or stop the mixing at 20 minutes 

          or use a mixer with dough hooks… 

          or use your hands. 

          I’m all about equal opportunity baking.  

          Now remove a portion equivalent to the amount of starter dough you added (roughly 1 cup). Set that aside.  Take the main dough and form a ball, place into cover bowl and let sit at room temperature for 2 hours.  Place container in fridge overnight (12 hours). 

          In the meantime for the extra dough you set aside:

          Roll your remaining dough into a thick even log and slice into 6 even pieces. Roll into balls and place on pan or in large 6 count muffin tin.  Cover and let rise for 6 hours or until each ball has almost doubled in size. (fills the muffin cup).  Bake at 350 for 15-20 min until golden brown. 

          Serve warm or store for later snack time. 

          Once the 12 hours has passed:

          Remove main dough from fridge.  You may divide it into two portions for baking ( 2 standard loaf pans or making 2 largish pizza crusts) or if baking in the bread maker don’t divide it (round it to fit nicely in the bread machine pan). 

          For bread loaf(ves) (not pizza crust) 
          Put main dough (whole) into pan,  cover and set aside for 6-8 hours until it has reached the top of the pan edge… maybe a tad bit higher if you are so inclined. I bake it at the pan edge measurement.

          Bread Machine Baking:

          When appropriate height is reached, using bake only function, select 45 minutes and press start. When finished remove and let cool on rack for an hour or 3.

          Oven baking:

          Place shaped loafs into pans and bake in a preheated oven (350 degrees) for 45 minutes until tops are what ever shade of brown you desire. Approximately 45 minutes give or take.
          Pizza crust:

          Take one half or the main dough and roll out to desired shape and thickness. 

          Let rest for about 1-3 hours….basically we’re going for slightly puffy.  

          Punch it down if it gets out of hand. 

          Sourdough is slow and forgiving… 

          …  in my experience. 

          Which is why you’re reading this right?? 

          Moving… on. 

          Top with whatever you enjoy on your pizza and bake it!  

          You may bake it in a preheated oven (350 degrees) or  in a wood burning pizza oven or over a campfire on a flat stone… I won’t judge. 

          Cook it until it looks golden brown around the edges (for 20 minutes or so) … you may find it desirable to use a pizza stone or to put cornmeal on the bottom for extra fanciness. 

          I don’t…  but you might.. and that’s why we’re called INDIVIDUALS. 😂

          Whatever you do,  enjoy gobbling it up at the very least!

          You’re welcome. 

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