By Haley Kennedy, Recovery Coach – 7.8.2022 –
The summer months can sometimes be a challenge for people in early recovery. Memories of substance-infused parties, concerts, and family gatherings can temporarily gloss over the harsh realities of the substance use disorder you have left behind. Maintaining recovery during the summer will depend on continuing the proven actions that have gotten you this far:
Stay connected with your support network. If you end up in a risky situation, these are people you will instinctively want to reach out to for guidance and support. It’s also good to spread your network across all areas of your life: a supportive friend at work, a family member at home, one in each social circle, and so on.
Stick to a schedule. It can be tough to sustain self-care every day, but it is easier when you think things through ahead of time. Sit down on Sunday, look at your upcoming week, and plan out each 24-hour period – when will you exercise? Meditate? Attend a meeting? Talk to a sponsor? When do you have fun, social time scheduled? Identify any moments during the week you anticipate will bring stress and surround those times with positive activities, also being sure to set aside time to check in with your support system afterward. It’s vital to your recovery that you feel connected to yourself and others.
Be mindful of your time. Idle time promotes risk, especially when you’re busy all week and then suddenly are faced with an empty, boring weekend. When we don’t plan, we can revert to old habits. Choose to spend time doing fun and healthy activities that are in alignment with your values. A switch of social scenes may also be necessary, or at least, the addition of new activities with some friends in recovery that meet your new needs.
Know what you’re drinking. There are some summer events where alcohol is inevitable – a wedding, for example. Always bring your own non-alcoholic drink (something you really enjoy) to have on/in hand, so you aren’t constantly being offered one.
Over and above those continuing care essentials, I mentioned how it is vital to sustain recovery through fun and fulfilling activities that bring you a sense of joy. It can be hard to stretch your imagination to come up with new, fun, and exciting summer activities to fill your calendar, so I’ve come up with a few ideas.
Enjoy the water. If you have access to a body of water — a pool, a lake, a river, the ocean —there are plenty of fun activities to explore. So, grab some sunscreen, a swimsuit, a friend and consider any of these:
- Learn how to surf/body surf
- Take up paddleboarding
- Try kayaking/canoeing
- Go river rafting/floating
Plan a barbeque. Some summer staples just cannot be beat, like a nice backyard barbeque. If you don’t have a spacious yard, stake out an area at a local park. Invite friends and family to bring their tastiest dishes and serve an array of refreshing alcohol-free beverages to keep everyone well hydrated. Set up horseshoes or cornhole and enjoy yourselves!
Set up an outdoor movie. Go in together on a video projector and outdoor screen or see if your local library has them available to borrow and host a movie in your own backyard. Invite friends to bring snacks or get some pizza delivered. Set up some chairs and blankets, get comfy, and enjoy!
Go camping. Camping is always fun. Plan a weekend camping trip with family or some friends. Grab a tent and some firewood (don’t forget the marshmallows!) and enjoy becoming one with nature.
Start a hiking club. Invite some friends to join you on a series of hikes — plan on exploring a different hiking trail together each week. Hiking is both a social and solitary activity, allowing for conversation, yet plenty of time to just quietly ponder the beauty of nature and pray (if you so choose.) Locate some local trails or take a road trip to a neighboring town to check out new ones…but bring plenty of water.
Stoke your passions. Not every summer activity needs to be a social one… Sometimes, just spending some quiet time to pursue a new (or renewed) interest is extremely fulfilling.
Summer can be an amazing opportunity to spend time with family and friends in an authentic and present way. Soak up every sunset and every sunny day, dip your toes in the ocean and remember that recovery is the best possible gift to yourself and your loved ones.