We can’t help but long for summers of our past: the final school bell of the summer, playing with friends, the familiar tune of the ice cream truck sends you running outside – no matter your age. The thrill of running toward the swimming pool full speed while yelling at the top of your lungs, legs tucked in preparation of that perfect splash-worthy cannon ball. Long afternoons with sunshine filled drives down long, windy roads, windows down and your favorite summertime mix playing on Spotify.
While summer beckons long days, freedom and fun, for those on the start of their life of sobriety, the carefree days of summer seem daunting and overwhelming. All of the familiar activities you once enjoyed have become their own series of obstacles. Summer was often seen as a time to let loose with loved ones and take a bit of time to enjoy ourselves. Between the parties and cocktails, cookouts, beach trips, camping weekends, and tourist attractions, and the ever-present red Solo cup, you could feel triggered by its mere thought.
There is good news! You can not only get through Summer, but you can celebrate it in sobriety! Here is a list of some great activities that you can do to both enjoy the season of sunshine and continue in your recovery.
1: Make a Plan
Be intentional when you go out – where will you go and who will go with you? Make sure that the places and company you choose are healthy for your and are those who support your recovery journey. Be cautious of allowing those in your inner circle who would draw you back into past addictive behaviors.
2: Get active!
Activity is great for those in recovery as it reminds you that you are alive! Plan a hiking trip or hit up the local festivals and fairs. Gather a group for beach volleyball or tackle the newest climbing challenge ropes course. Celebrate warm and slow summer evenings with bonfires, working on perfecting the recipe for the world’s greatest s’more. Group activities may be a way to meet new people, especially those supportive of your sober lifestyle.
3: Have an Out
Remember those carefully chosen friends? Make sure they all know when you need an escape. Create a text code within your circle to privately let them know when you feel overwhelmed, triggered or out of place. Have a back up plan in mind to go hang out at a different location.
4: Mocktail or cocktail? Your secret is safe!
Just because you’re sober, doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy yourself. Half of the fun of summer drinks are the great tropical flavors! Enjoy a virgin pina colada or cranberry and soda. At first glance, the red solo cup may appear to be your nemesis, but it can actually be your best disguise to blend in and still feel included. Check out allrecipes.com to see some drinks to try that are delicious enough to be fun and non-alcoholic to keep you on track with your goals.
5: Remember to HALT
When you are hungry, angry, lonely or tired, you may find yourself thinking of reverting to past habits. Low energy levels can lead to poor addictive behaviors. Summer can be the season of self-care. Take some time to relax, restore and refresh. Grab a fresh summer salad, grill some chicken and veggies or hit the pool. Refresh yourself with some great seasonal options.
6: Don’t hesitate to use the power of “No”
Invitations will come – remember it’s okay to say “no”. You have worked long and hard for your life of sobriety – that life deserves a chance to be filled with new, healthy memories and relationships.
A summer of sobriety doesn’t have to feel like a prison sentence – in it you can actually find a deeper appreciation of the new life you have chosen. When was the last time you stopped to appreciate a child catching lightening bugs or watched the glow of fireworks on a summer evening? When you are absorbed in the activity of using substances, your world stays as small and dark – the only “highs” you felt were artificially created. A summer of sobriety lets you fully feel the enchantment of each day – full of highs of its own. The memories to be created await you!
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