Summer is finally here! These longer and warmer days are a great time to head outside and bond with your friends and family, although they can be a stressful time for those in recovery. Many of the holidays (as most holidays can be) can often include plenty of drinking, which can be a trigger for most. That said, there’s no reason why you shouldn’t enjoy the season — all you need is to plan ahead so you can ensure that you’ll be in a safe and welcoming place. If you’re searching for ideas on how to create an unforgettable summer in sobriety that feeds your mind, body and spirit, we’ve got a few suggestions to get you started.
Sober activities to try during summer
- Enjoy the water.If you have access to a body of water — a lake, a river, or the ocean — there is an abundance of fun activities to explore. So, grab some sunscreen and a swimsuit and consider any of these:
- Learn how to surf or body surf
- Take up stand-up paddleboarding
- Try kayaking or canoeing
- Go river rafting
- Rent an electric bike. Electric bikes are a boon for taking bike trips between two destinations that happen to include a hilly landscape. Plan a scenic E-bike day trip with some friends, meeting up first for a cold brew coffee before hitting the road. E-bikes offer people of all ages an opportunity to enjoy the sights with minimal exertion, so hop on and get moving.
- Plan a barbeque. Some summer staples just cannot be beat, and one of those is sober summer barbecuing. Stake out a roomy park area for plenty of physical distancing and set up a couple of easy-ups for sun protection. Invite friends and family from your sober support network to bring their tastiest dishes and serve an array of refreshing alcohol-free beverages to keep everyone well hydrated. Set up horseshoes and other outdoor games, and don’t forget the Bocce ball set!
- Set up an outdoor movie. What’s better than watching a movie outside on a warm summer night? Not much! Go in together on a video projector rental and outdoor screen and host a movie in your own backyard. Invite friends to bring snacks or have some pizza delivered. Set up some beach chairs and blankets and enjoy a favorite flick together.
- Go camping. Campsites are always a fun outdoor activity, so call and make a reservation — or put yourself on the cancellation list. Camping is always fun during the summer months when you can comfortably sleep under the stars. Plan a weekend camping trip with the family or some sober friends. Grab a tent and some firewood (don’t forget the marshmallows!) and enjoy becoming one with nature.
- Take a trip. Join a local sober meetup travel group for a summer trip. Depending on your location, you will find sober travel groups planning trips and adventures, both domestically and abroad.
- Go fishing. If you’re looking for a calm and relaxing activity, why not grab your fishing pole and find a quiet spot to catch up on your reading? With any luck, you’ll come home with some dinner.
- Plan a picnic. Everybody loves a summer picnic! Invite your sober friends to meet at a local park for a potluck barbeque. Make it a family event, with plenty of games and activities for the kids, too.
- Go horseback riding. Saddle up alongside some sober friends and have a blast exploring the sights, sounds and smells along the riding trail.
New hobbies to try while staying sober this summer
- Stoke your passions. Not every sober summer activity needs to be a social one. Sometimes, just spending some quiet time to pursue a new (or renewed) interest is extremely fulfilling. For example, summer is the perfect time to take up plein air painting, where you can capture the different lighting effects while you compose a beautiful landscape on your canvas.
- Take up photography. Having a decent camera built right into our smartphones makes taking up photography a fun and free hobby. For those with loftier ambitions, investing in a DSLR camera is well worth the expense. Plan some day trips where you can explore the terrain with your camera. You will be amazed at all the things you might have otherwise overlooked when you are out and about with a camera.
- Organize a sober sports team. Find a local recreational sports league and form a team of sober softball, soccer or volleyball players. Doing so can help you create a network of sober friendships.
- Start a hiking group. Discover the natural wonders around you by organizing a hiking group. Pack lunch and go explore the local trails together.
- Find a cause. Nothing sparks a renewed sense of purpose like volunteering your time to a noble cause. Your community is bound to have many volunteer opportunities, like tutoring kids, walking dogs at the shelter or helping at the local food pantry.
Mental health tips to help with sobriety this summer
It is wise to be proactive when we recognize the unsettling signs of mental unrest. Allowing a negative or stressed-out mood state to continue unabated will potentially increase the risk of relapse. When your spirits are flagging or anxiety is inching higher, try these mental health tips to rebalance and restore your mood:
- Visit a relative. Maybe it has been a while since you have seen a cousin or sibling. Why not plan a visit and reinvigorate the family bond? So often, we say we will get together soon, but months turn into years, and before you know it, you have become strangers. Make a special day of it by meeting up at a pretty park and planning a potluck or barbecue and spending some quality time getting reacquainted.
- Consider a wellness retreat. Sometimes our mental health can use some extra special attention. A wellness retreat is a great idea when you feel your mood sinking and realize recovery might be in jeopardy. The retreats are typically situated in a stunning setting and offer targeted treatments, such as group therapy, therapeutic massage and yoga, to help lift your spirits. There are often many coupons and special offers for these retreats, so start your search on coupon sites!
- Buy some new sneakers. A new pair of athletic shoes may be all it takes to spark some new fitness goals. While relying too much on retail therapy has its risks, finding the right gear that will inspire you to try something new is a great way to start a new hobby. Challenge yourself to achieve new benchmarks, such as the number of daily steps tracked on your FitBit or taking up Pickleball. Decide on an activity or two, set some goals and get moving for a real boost in mood.
Spiritual practices for a sober summer
While spirituality might be new to some, it can serve as a guiding light and inspiration during recovery. As you navigate through the season, take time to center yourself with some of the spiritual practices:
- Mindfulness meditation. Mindfulness meditation is now included in substance use recovery programs as an essential treatment element. Mindfulness meditation is a helpful coping technique that allows us to redirect distracting negative thoughts toward the present moment in a nonjudgmental manner. Mindfulness helps to arrest the temptation to ruminate over negative thoughts and worries and to remind ourselves that this too shall pass. These gentle reminders keep us from allowing negative thoughts to take control and threaten recovery.
- Religious traditions. Many are familiar with the Judeo-Christian collection of religious belief systems. These include a multitude of Christian denominations such as Catholicism and the various Protestant faith communities, Judaism, Islam, and Eastern Orthodox. In addition, there are Eastern religions like Buddhism and Hinduism. These faith beliefs adhere to the practice of prayer and a set of unique teachings, traditions, and rituals.
- New age practices. The New Age form of spirituality has grown significantly since the 1970s. New Age religions or practices usually center on a connection with the universe, nature, and philosophy. The spiritual core of the New Age movement focuses on personal transformation and emotional healing.
- Journaling. Keeping a journal in recovery is an excellent tool for daily spiritual practice. Jotting down newfound spiritual insights, keeping an ongoing list of blessings and expressions of gratitude, and writing down personal prayer petitions is a way to remain connected with our spiritual side.
- Volunteerism. Many people who might otherwise consider themselves as agnostic or atheist regarding religion may find themselves attracted to volunteerism. The act of helping others through works of charity is, in essence, a form of spirituality in practice, without adhering to any particular faith beliefs.
While summer can be a tricky time for those in recovery, especially if they recently started their sobriety journey, there’s no reason why you should enjoy the festivities. It does require planning and effort, but the new memories you will make and the fun you’ll have are well worth the effort. We hope this summer is the best one yet!