The Importance of Hobbies and Creative Outlets: Finding Fulfillment After Problem Gambling

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The Importance of Hobbies and Creative Outlets: Finding Fulfillment After Problem Gambling

 

If you’ve been experiencing gambling harm and you decide to stop gambling, you’re making a good decision. In fact, I’m fairly certain that you will reflect on this decision as one of the most important you ever make in your life. But that doesn’t mean it’s an easy one.  

 

If you’ve been spending an extended period of time and energy gambling, even while experiencing harm, stopping can feel like there’s a void in your life. It can be a real double-edged sword.  

 

But I can tell you from firsthand experience that the sense of freedom and brain space I recovered when I stopped gambling is one of the greatest benefits in my life. Yes, in the early days of my recovery, boredom was a huge trigger for me. It was really hard to find ways to stay busy, and when I wasn’t, I had significant urges to gamble. I had been using gambling as a coping mechanism when things weren’t going well in my life. It took me a while to develop a toolkit of other coping strategies that worked for me.

 

But here’s the good news: after you can make it through the early days, things get A LOT better.  

 

One of the best recommendations I have for anyone seeking lasting change from problem gambling is to engage in hobbies and creative outlets. They can be a powerful tool for healing and finding a new sense of purpose.

 

Hobbies and creative pursuits offer a range of benefits for those on this journey. First, they provide a healthy distraction and a way to cope with urges to gamble. When you immerse yourself in an activity you love, you’re less likely to dwell on past gambling experiences or fantasize about future gambling opportunities.

 

What’s more is that hobbies and creative outlets give you a sense of accomplishment and boost your self-esteem. Creating something tangible, whether it’s a painting, a piece of writing, or a woodworking project, gives you a feeling of pride and reminds you of your capabilities beyond gambling. This can be especially important if your identity and self-worth became tied to gambling.

 

Engaging in hobbies also provides opportunities for social connection and support, which are essential for long-term success. Joining a club, taking a class, or attending workshops related to your interests allows you to meet like-minded people and build new friendships based on shared passions, or develop new connections with friends who you previously primarily connected with through gambling activities.

 

Perhaps most importantly, hobbies and creative pursuits help you rediscover a sense of meaning and purpose outside of gambling. When you invest your energy in something genuinely rewarding, you begin to see new possibilities for your life. You start to dream about goals and aspirations unrelated to gambling and develop a stronger sense of identity grounded in your talents and values.

 

In addition to hobbies and creative outlets, engaging in physical activity and spending time in nature can also be incredibly beneficial for those seeking fulfillment after gambling. Exercise releases endorphins, reduces stress, and improves overall well-being, while connecting with the natural world can provide a sense of peace, perspective, and grounding. It’s hard to think of an environment more different from a casino than a hiking trail.

 

Remember, finding fulfillment is a unique and ongoing process for each of us. What brings joy and meaning to one person may differ from another. The key is to remain open to exploring new possibilities, be patient with yourself, and trust that with time and effort, you will discover the activities and pursuits that resonate with your authentic self.

 

By finding healthy ways to fill your time and express yourself, you can not only avoid falling back into old patterns but also build a more fulfilling life. 

 

Sam DeMello, Founder of Evive

 

Reference:

  • Hodgins, D. C., & el-Guebaly, N. (2000). Natural and treatment-assisted recovery from gambling problems: A comparison of resolved and active gamblers. Addiction, 95(5), 777-789.

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