2020 was a year of unprecedented changes. From social distancing to quarantining, COVID-19 certainly made the past 365 into a year no one is going to forget any time soon.

In particular, so many individuals saw their in-office workspaces become work-from-home environments. In fact, 2020 was unprecedented in its ability to isolate friends, family members, coworkers and peers from one another, during a time when we needed each other more than ever. With this isolation, and the flexible schedules, work layoffs and office setting transitions that followed, came an increase in free time for many during the day.

If you’re looking to turn that free time into a new hobby, a new skill or a new passion at the start of a new year, we’re ready to help. Here are a few of our top suggestions for anyone looking to fill their free time with something fun and new in 2021.

1. Find a new fishing spot

Fishing just might be the best activity if you’re looking to spend time with others, immerse yourself in nature and still accommodate social distancing protocols. No matter where you live, there’s likely to be a potential fishing spot close by. And whether it’s freshwater or saltwater, river fishing or deep ocean trawling, fishing can help you to relax, spend quality time with loved ones and gain fresh perspective while you take in the great outdoors.

2. Take up painting

If you’re looking for more of an indoor activity, particularly one that allows you to flex your artistic muscles, it’s possible that painting is for you. All you need to pursue this new potential hobby is a few paints, brushes and the paper, canvas or surface that you’ll be painting! One trip to a hobby shop, or even a grocery store, and you should be set.

There’s no shortage of inspiration online when it comes to exactly what to paint, so don’t be afraid to let your imagination soar before it’s time to put your brush to work. If you’re feeling adventurous, try painting something that will challenge you: perhaps a group of people, or your favorite outdoor space. And of course, there’s no wrong answer when it comes to what you’re painting. Break out the brushes, play some comfortable music and get to work painting the world’s next great masterpiece.

3. Cook a new dish

If your artistic muscles are better flexed in the kitchen, consider this your invitation to whip up a meal worth remembering. Cooking a new dish can be as simple as rummaging through the refrigerator and using existing ingredients. Or, you can go all out: grab that recipe you’ve been dying to try, or find a recipe online that matches the ingredients list, dish type or diet you prefer. In minutes, you could be well on your way to creating a new favorite dish, all because you took the time to leave your comfort zone and take risks in the kitchen.

4. Invest in a new stock

If you’re someone who loves to invest, take the new year as an opportunity to invest in at least one new stock option. COVID-19 has certainly imposed a lot of changes on the financial world, including the fact that a wide variety of companies have seen considerable shifts in stock price, purely due to pandemic-related fluctuations.

Take this chance to learn more about potential companies in which you’d like to invest, and then take the leap. Even if it’s only a single stock, you’ll have diversified your financial portfolio, learned more about a new company and had a little fun while you did it. And if you invest in the right way, you can even earn some capital back when it comes time to sell.

5. Capture great photos

These days, it seems like every phone out there takes breathtaking photos. If you happen to have a smartphone that takes great photos, spend even 10-20 minutes during the new year taking some shots worth remembering. Maybe this process is as simple as filtering by “Portrait” mode on your smartphone and capturing images in enhanced detail. Or perhaps capturing great photos means breaking out your actual camera.

If you do take this opportunity to dust off your camera, make sure you take the time to learn basic settings and functionality. You wouldn’t want to realize your photos lack the clarity, resolution or filter you want, only after your photo-taking session reaches its end.

Taking the time to live your best life

If you’re truly serious about living your best life in the new year, you need to know that it’s not as simple as just introducing new, exciting habits into your schedule. You also need to take the time to address any concerns that might be limiting your ability to find free time, or even to enjoy life’s other opportunities. When those concerns include substance use habits – a challenge we find many clients struggling with this year – know that Real Recovery is also available to help. You deserve a life free from self-destructive behaviors, and our licensed healthcare professionals are ready to help you achieve exactly that. Call us today at 1 (855) 363-7325, or learn more about us, our mission, our beautiful North Carolina location and everything we can help you achieve, when you get to know your newest substance use advocate.